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Talbot: Bethel-Battle incident sparks debate of due process

Posted: July 15, 2014 - 9:30pm  |  Updated: July 16, 2014 - 12:15am

Amber Battle’s shoulders crumpled.

The hit was quick and hard and for a moment she looked shocked before she took a step backward and sat on the bench behind her.

Nigel Bethel had punched her in the face.

She sunk her head low as Bethel was subdued by nearly every basketball player on the court.

But, for Bethel the punch looked like the final straw.

He had simply been pushed around enough.

To him at the time, it seems that it was a girl didn’t matter and for the grand jury it didn’t either.

Bethel, a former Texas Tech standout football recruit, was cleared Tuesday on a felony count of aggravated assault stemming from a fight with Battle, a Lady Raider basketball player.

Bethel’s attorney, Tray Payne, doesn’t believe his client was given the same due process afforded other athletes or students at Texas Tech.

He believes that the administration made a knee-jerk reaction to a football player hitting a woman.

He believes that if Tech has a zero tolerance policy for Bethel than it needs on for Battle, too.

He’s right due process was not followed, but that doesn’t mean Tech made the wrong decision — even if they made it too early.

Texas Tech, as usual, acted in its best interest. Removing Bethel from the team was what was best now that all the information is slowly being made available to the public.

And that’s fine. Athletic Director Kirby Hocutt and the staff at Texas Tech could have done a better job keeping a lid on what transpired.

They chose not to.

Now, they have to accept the fact that the instigator of the event is still a Red Raider — that her punishment was less severe — and that she may not have been forthright from the outset.

Battle will miss a month of the season with her suspension — about seven games.

Bethel, meanwhile, disappears. He could end up at Miami. He could end up in Oklahoma.

He has been released from his scholarship. So, that is his and the school that recruits him’s prerogative.

What the jury saw was a person being pushed around on the court time and time again.

What they decided was it was just an incident, an altercation.

They didn’t see an assault.

Because, yes, pushes happen, but a smack in the side of the head is a bit more deliberate.

And before Bethel threw the first punch, he was smacked in the side of the head by Battle.

It wasn’t a push after all.

His punch was pretty darn clear.

The video isn’t 100 percent clear on how hard Battle hit Bethel, there is pole in the way.

But, it is clear it was more than a push. And it is clear that she did a little bit more than was originally reported.

Now, it looks like she may not have been truthful with the police when she filed the initial report.

A Texas Tech Police Department offense report released June 30 accused Bethel — enrolled in his first month at the school after graduating from Booker T. Washington High in Miami in May — of “causing serious bodily injury” by hitting Amber Battles on Saturday.

The one-page report states the attack included “hands, fists, feet, etc.”

Feet were not involved and only one fist was used.

And overall the “altercation” was minor.

Honestly, it looked like Bethel got a lucky punch to do that much damage.

He didn’t step into it.

He didn’t rear back before he swung. It was a quick hard jab and if she had been a man, with the way she was playing, a lot of people would say she deserved it.

She didn’t.

No one does. Not a man, woman or, especially, a child.

And the latter two do count more.

That’s just life. You are brought up to act a certain way and violence against women is not acceptable in any form.

It doesn’t matter if it is retaliation.

Regardless of who he hit though, Bethel escalated the situation and that means he has to be punished.

That means Texas Tech has the right and I feel should have kicked him off the football team.

Nothing has changed in terms of Battle’s injuries.

She still was the one with the broken bones in her face and she was the one that had surgery.

And Bethel still overreacted.

Texas Tech was justified in releasing him from his scholarship.

It said in a news release that it “has a zero tolerance policy on this type of behavior.”

That is its prerogative.

That is its policy.

Due process, though, was lost somewhere in the intolerance.

 

nicholas.talbot@lubbockonline.com

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Follow Nicholas on Twitter

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7
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From the reports it sounds like

sounds like both parties "esculated" the conflict - not just one.

4
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To Me It Looks Like

Bethel had a chance to walk away and avoid that unfortunate scene. I'm sure he was mad and I'm not saying I would've done any better, but I hope and I think I would've.

I'm sure he wishes he could've controlled his temper in that moment.....but he didn't and now he's paying the price.

My respect meter for both players is reading woefully on the low side.

0
5

Mr. Talbot, Sir:

My hat is off to you.

In one article, you have demonstrated more honest reporting than Don Williams has during the 106 years he has been at the AJ.

During the short time you remain in Lubbock, I will pay close heed to your writing.

You can get a job anywhere.

4
1

Anyone else would be charged

Anyone else would be charged with assault. You hit someone, you are going down, guilty plain and simple. That's what the judge tells a juvenile who defends himself/herself at school. Then they're off to a Juvenile Detention Center. IMHO they are both guilty...but the DA's office sets a different standard when TTU athletes are involved. It's too bad because everyone should follow the law or one tends to lose respect for it.

Bethel gives TTU a black eye(no pun intended)...for hitting a woman!

0
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convoluted 7th grade journalism

Now that Tech has reinstated bad boy Bethel, shouldn't you write another article stating how right Tech was to reinstate the young man?

Moreover, if you believe Amber filed a false police report, why aren't you arguing that she should be charged accordingly?

Your story is all over the place and makes no sense. It is rather obvious that you never played basketball. Contrary to the implications you present, basketball is anything but a no-contact sport. It's rougher than rugby for Pete's sake.

Amber Battle is an All Big 12 power forward. If you get into a pick up game with her, you'd better be prepared to get physical.

Women have argued for equal rights for decades. Welcome to the world of equal rights, ladies.

on another topic ...

him's? as in the songs you sing in church? what? seriously? this is the caliber of journalist the AJ is hiring these days?

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