DEARBORN HEIGHTS (WWJ) – A judge has dismissed assault and battery charges against four high school football players who were accused of starting an on-field shoving match last October.
WWJ’s Florence Walton was in the courtroom when 20th District Judge Mark Plawecki dismissed the misdemeanor charges against the 17-year-old Star International Academy football players — Mohamed Elfatih Ahmed, Fanar Al-Furat Al-Asady, Hadee Mohamaud Attia and Ali Maniff Bajjey.
The judge said although the students’ behavior on the field was deplorable, football is a brutally violent sport.
“If we criminalize these players’ actions, we criminalize nearly every football game ever played. If we criminalize these actions, we criminalize every pitcher who has intentionally thrown at a batter, and every vagrant elbow thrown beneath the basket,” said Plawecki.
The charges stem from an incident that occurred during the final minutes of a playoff game last year, as Star International Academy was about to be defeated by Westland Lutheran High School 47-6.
Referees told the players on the field that Westland’s quarterback was going to take a knee to run out the clock, are warned players not to react violently. Instead, police say several Star players burst through the offensive line and laid out the quarterback, 15-year-old P.J. Guse, who suffered a grade III concussion and missed some school as a result.
“I’m not sure how he went flying through the air but he did. He landed face down and didn’t move. And I’ve never been so scared,” said Jane Guse, P.J.’s mother.
Players and coaches from both teams stormed the field and a brief skirmish broke out, during which Westland’s coach was punched by a Star player.
After a three-month investigation, the players were criminally charged by Dearborn Heights Police and Wayne County.
Diane Herra, who was at the game when violence erupted, said she was disappointed with the judge’s ruling.
“This boy could not even walk to the benches, he kept falling because he was so hurt. So, I just don’t understand, just because, you know, it’s a Muslim school and we’re a Christian school,” said Herra.
The judge did suggest, however, that civil litigation is an option for the Guse family.
Dawud Walid, Executive Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations Michigan, said he is pleased with the judge’s decision.
“To have criminally charged these youths, treat them like adults, would be basically to decriminalize almost every football game that takes place on the collegiate level, high school level or professional level. So, we are pleased with the verdict today,” said Walid.