A referee who was attacked by three coaches and a player at a Sarasota youth football game is from St. Petersburg.
The Aug. 27 melee at Riverview High School captured national attention after it was caught on video and posted on YouTube.
The video shows referee Jayme Ream being tackled by a player, and kicked by coaches of the Sarasota Gators. Ream broke his shoulder in the incident.
“When we became fully aware of what occurred, my deputies began a thorough investigation to indentify those responsible and bring them to justice,” said Sarasota County Sheriff Tom Knight said.
Three adults and one juvenile are each charged with one count of battery on a sports official.
- Sarasota Gator coaches Dexter Austin, 48, of Bradenton, and Timothy Howard, 38, of Sarasota, turned themselves in.
- Gator coach Antonio Bradley, 28, was expected to turn himself in later Friday, according to Sarasota County Sheriff Tom Knight.
- A 14-year-old player with the Gators will be charged in juvenile court next week.
While all suspects have cooperated with deputies, Knight said, “A couple seem to be remorseful, [however] Mr. Austin does not seem to be too remorseful.”
The altercation started after Ream and Austin argued over the referee's call.
According to the probable cause affidavit, several penalties had been called by lead officials against the Gators.
The coaching staff yelled at Ream and water was thrown at him, the document said.
Ream ejected the coaching staff and ended the game minutes before the end of the first half.
Once Ream ended the game, according to the affidavit, members of the Gators coaching staff become hostile toward him.
As Ream walked away, Austin aggressively approached Ream and threw a water bottle at him, Knight said.
That is when the physical altercation started, which eventually led to the melee in the end zone.
Knight said Ream was defending himself, “which he has every right to do.”
Ream was then tackled by a 14-year-old player, who was wearing a No. 6 jersey. As Ream fell to the ground, other Gator coaches got involved.
Knight said that Austin is the one in the video who appears to be kicking Ream on the ground.
According to Knight, Ream suffered a shoulder fracutre because of the incident.
Howard has also been charged with another count of battery for hitting a coach from the North Port Huskies, the Gators' opponent.
Knight said it is a priority for his office that people feel safe at county fields, parks and courts. He added that it is up to the adults to hold themselves accountable and set examples for children.
“I’ve heard some attempts to excuse or explain away the actions involved,” he said. “The reality is, is that there is no excuse. Their actions are intolerable in an environment designed to serve our community’s children."
While four individuals with the Gators have been charged, the fight will negatively impact all Gators. The team has been suspended from play and been barred from playing at any Sarasota County School District field.
“It’s very disappointing that sometimes [adults] lose perspective that they are really there for the kids,” Knight said. “These coaches [were] living vicariously through their children and their football program.”