Kilgore, TX (KETK) — The Kilgore College Police Department released information Thursday gathered during an investigation into the pepper spray incident that occurred at a basketball game in Kilgore on Saturday, February 23, 2013.
Chief of Police Martin A. Pessink of the KCPD, has received numerous statements and e-mails regarding the scuffle that happened after the Kilgore College and Navarro College basketball game.
According to the KCPD, prior to the basketball game, the Kilgore College athletic director contacted the KCPD requesting additional officers during the game because Navarro was bringing two fan busses and there could be problems. The KCPD lieutenant, who arranges all security details, assigned himself and three other officers to work the game. Police were assigned to oversee different areas of the gym throughout the game.
During the game, a female Navarro employee became upset because she believed some Kilgore students were using profanity towards Navarro players. She went to an officer and complained about it.
Only one Kilgore employee said he heard cursing coming from some Kilgore students during the first portion of the game, according to Chief Pessink. No technical calls were made by officials because they did not hear any cursing.
The female Navarro employee complained multiple times to the KCPD about the Kilgore students.
Toward the end of the game, the woman who expressed her concerns to the officers, became angry and began shouting profanities at a Kilgore employee who was sitting at the scorers' table. At this time, the Kilgore employee could not leave the table and raised his arm to let the woman know he could not get up. The Kilgore employee motioned for his supervisor to come over to the table.
The supervisor stated he went to the scorers' table to find out what was going on then went back to his seat.
According to witnesses, the Navarro employee began yelling and made her way toward the Kilgore supervisor. The supervisor told the woman she needed to watch her language and others said she needed to leave. In the video footage, people sitting in the area can be seen waiving the woman off.
The Navarro woman, continuing to yell, went back to her seat and other Navarro fans joined in her rant.
After the game, some Navarro players refused to shake hands with Kilgore players. During this time, several Kilgore fans began to celebrate the win at center court along with a few players who were directed to leave the court and go to the locker room.
At this point, Kilgore students moved across the court and began to aggravate the Navarro College bench. When this happened, Navarro players returned from a tunnel leading to the locker room and appeared ready to fight.
According to witnesses, the athletes were held back by other players and fans. Police told them to go back to their locker room. Witnesses also say the Navarro College players began using verbal threats toward the opposing fans.
After-game video shows a KCPD officer pull a baton from his holster in preparation of a large fight. Authorities began physically pushing the players back toward the tunnel until they were verbally threatened by a Navarro College player.
At that moment, officers began pepper spraying the enraged athletes. A Kilgore College athletic trainer began tending to the injured Navarro staff and players. Use of the pepper spray deescalated the situation, promptly, and those involved dispersed from the gym.
No pepper spray was used inside the locker room.
In review, KCPD listed the following items as areas of improvement:
- Remove disruptive fans or employees from the gym
- Move non-basketball coaching staff closer to athletes for better monitoring
- Place more police officers at athletic events involving strong rivals, including an off duty Kilgore police officer
- Install cameras in the gym