Four Davidson High School football players were suspended Thursday after a cell phone video surfaced from a “disturbing hazing incident” that left a 14-year-old with a broken arm.
Freshman quarterback Rodney Kim Jr.’s parents told WKRG their son was promoted to the varsity football team after a spring practice session last Friday. However, things turned violent when the team entered the locker room.
Several teammates threw Kim to the ground before repeatedly punching him, with a few even jumping on his body with all of their weight. The majority of the incident was captured in a cell phone video that surfaced on social media earlier this week.
While some are calling it “a hazing incident,” Mobile Police Chief Lawrence Battiste has characterized it as an assault — one being investigated criminally.
“We are actively investigating to determine all individuals responsible for causing the student to sustain a broken arm injury,” Battiste said in a statement. “Once the investigation has concluded, we will provide an update on those arrested and the charges.”
Mobile County School Superintendent Martha Peek said the four students were suspended Thursday because they were able to be clearly identified in the cell phone video. However, because there aren’t security cameras in locker rooms, that grainy footage could be all school officials and police have to go on outside of student interviews.
Peek said coaches were “in close proximity” when the incident started, adding they responded after they “realized there was an increased amount of noise in the locker room.”
“We will leave no rock unturned on this. It is very serious,” Peek said. “We regret anything like this happening. We don’t want anyone hurt, certainly when it results in an injury like this. It’s a disturbing situation that we by no means condone in any way.”
Outside of whatever action the MPD takes, Peek said more students could face disciplinary action through MCPSS and didn’t rule out the possibility of further suspensions or expulsions.
As for the coaches, Peek said no staff members are facing disciplinary actions at this time but very well could once the system completes its investigation. Online, several people — including Kim’s mother — have called for head football coach Fred Riley to be at least suspended.
Riley has been the coach at Davidson since 2004.
Asked if hazing new players was thought to be some type of tradition for the varsity team, Peek said to her knowledge it is not.
“I’ve not dealt with any situation like this in the six years I’ve been the superintendent or even before as deputy superintendent when I worked closely with the athletic director. I don’t know of any tradition like this in the school system,” she said. “I’ve seen some people say, ‘In locker rooms, this has happened since time began.’ Well, if it has been, then it’s time for it to stop.”
The Warrior football team has an upcoming spring game against Baldwin County High School on May 18, but Peek told reporters Thursday she doesn’t yet know if it will be affected.
“I haven’t even considered a game,” she said. “I know we have spring games coming up, but I have no info to share with you at this time.”
Messages to Kim’s family seeking comment on this report have so far gone unreturned.