Charges not yet filed in Howell hockey brawl, police say
A few days after a brawl broke out between two referees and two parents following a high school hockey game in Howell Township, police continue their investigation, but authorities say it's possible that no charges will ever be filed against anyone.
Howell Township Detective Sgt. Christian Antunez points out by the time police arrived, the argument that turned violent was already over.
He said normally, when there’s a simple assault, like this case, it’s classified as a disorderly persons offense, and police usually don’t make any arrests unless they see what happened first-hand.
“All parties involved agree there was a fight, but it appeared from the investigation that it was more like a mutual thing between all four parties, so of course the stories differed between the parents: the two males, and the two referees,” Sgt. Antunez said. “The two males are saying they just went there to have a conversation and they were attacked, the referees say they were minding their own business and the two men came into the office and attacked them."
If police do not file any charges against anyone, he said the individuals can go to municipal court and sign a complaint for simple assault against the other people involved, but at that point police would not be involved.
“The person making the complaint would get a copy of the police report, go to municipal court, sign an affidavit, sign a criminal complaint for simple assault and then everyone would be summoned to court and if they can’t work out the differences, then there could be a trial,” he said.
However, for this scenario to unfold, the judge would have to find probable cause.
“You can’t just go into the court and say 'hey I want to sign a simple assault complaint against John Doe' and the court is going to automatically do it. The Judge has to say 'yes, there’s enough probable cause here for you to go forward with this complaint and for me to hear it in court,'” Antunez said.
He added the situation is very unfortunate.
“For something to get this out of control at a kids' sporting event is really just disturbing," Antunez said. "It’s hard to understand how something can get to this point just from kids playing hockey, you would hope everyone involved would be setting a better example."