WSU football players arrested for felony assault

REBECCA WHITE, Evergreen managing editor

Two WSU football players, redshirt freshman defensive lineman T.J. Fehoko and redshirt senior nosetackle Robert Barber, were surrendered by the football staff and arrested for second-degree assault on Friday.

The case will be forwarded to the Whitman County Prosecutor’s office for charging. Charges will also be recommended against WSU students Dylan Rollins, 19, and Pedro Diaz, 19, for provoking an altercation during a physical dispute on July 23.

In a news conference on Friday, Pullman Police Chief Gary Jenkins presented the facts of the case with WSU Athletics Director Bill Moos. In his opening statement, Moos said he would not comment on ongoing legal matters and he, as well as WSU Football Head Coach Mike Leach, believe that all people should be considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

Moos said it is up to Leach whether the players participate in the football game on Saturday. He said he will wait to make decisions until the legal process is finished. Moos said Athletics has its own process within the university that he could not talk about now, and that the WSU Conduct Board is reviewing the cases.

“As to the current charge of two of our young people,” Moos said, “we desire a situation where all of our student athletes are integrated fully into our general student population. That being said, we expect them to behave in a manner that is representative of the uniform they wear.”

Jenkins said Leach was accurate in his statements that there were a number of altercations going on at the party at the same time and there were a number of physical assaults. The two most serious injuries were incidents involving Barber and Fehoko.

Jenkins said second-degree felony assault could carry up to a year in prison, but that sentence could be lessened depending on the judge.

Jenkins said the reason they were able to identify the two football players was 19 seconds of cell phone footage the police obtained, as well as witness accounts. He also said he believes student athletes are more vulnerable because they are so recognizable, making them much easier to identify than students who are not involved in athletics.

Moos said he believes that the athletes are more recognizable, but that they are not being targeted or treated differently by police.

“We’re all Cougs, and altercations happen without student athletes involved as well,” Moos said. “This is unfortunate; we’re going to learn from it.”