One arrest linked to football brawl

Richardson charged with simple assault, scheduled to appear in court Monday
Mar. 13, 2014 @ 09:35 AM

Four months later, an arrest has been made for the adult seen on top of a high school football player in a postgame brawl.

Joseph Richardson Jr. was arrested last week by the Vance County Sheriff’s Office for his part in the altercation following the high school varsity football game between J.F. Webb and host Northern Vance on Nov. 8. Richardson was charged with misdemeanor simple assault, signed for a $1,000 unsecured bond and is scheduled to appear in Vance County District Court on Monday.

Richardson, a 44-year-old volunteer coach for Northern Vance, was listed for a 111 South Pinkston St., Apt. 48, address on the warrant and a 218 Denver St. address on the arrest report.

According to the arrest warrant of Sgt. Billy Gooch, Richardson “unlawfully and willfully did assault and strike Zach Bailey by hitting the victim about the body with his hands and fist.”

Both football teams were in their final regular season game. Northern’s losing streak was extended to 21 games, currently the longest in the state, and Webb broke a six-game losing streak with a 21-20 win.

The game included 27 penalties, 13 for personal fouls or unsportsmanlike conduct. Both totals are considered extremely high.

Six law enforcement officers, three each from the sheriff’s office and Henderson Police Department, were at the game. Two used pepper spray during the altercation to restore order, including Gooch.

Both Vance County Schools and the Granville County Schools issued discipline in early December. Maj. Joseph Ferguson of the sheriff’s office said the investigation was extensive.

“We wanted to look at the entire situation as a whole and see if could identify anybody involved,” he said.

Ferguson said it is typical in the case of misdemeanors to investigate and allow victims to swear out a warrant.

He said the sheriff’s office took the step to swear out the warrant “just because of the egregiousness of it all, the assault, being it that it was a volunteer coach on a player.”

“We had an assault case several years ago involving multiple suspects against one person, and that took some investigating as well,” Ferguson said. “What normally happens in misdemeanor cases is we defer to the victim, and they are able to swear out warrants.

“The coach, being unknown, we investigated it further. And we identified players. Being player on player, we decided to let anyone that felt they had been assaulted, they could obtain warrants on suspects as well. The players, from both schools that were involved, were disciplined by their school systems.”

In the first week of December, respective school systems confirmed punishments had been issued.

Ronald Gregory, superintendent for Vance County Schools, said he reviewed the game footage for almost 10 hours. He forwarded information to the N.C. High School Athletic Association on Nov. 22.

Gregory placed the Northern football team and coaching staff on probation through the 2014-’15 football season. He also said the coaching staff will be required to attend several meetings and trainings focused on sportsmanship, athletic program development, organizing and running effective practices, parent engagement and sensitivity training this year and in 2014-’15.

He also said head coach Eric Watkins will attend additional training throughout this year and 2014-’15.

Webb’s athletic program had been selected by the Big Eight Conference for a sportsmanship award for the fall. School officials declined to accept due to the football postgame altercation.

Contact the writer at