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Kilgore College investigation says officers did not use excessive force

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KILGORE, TX (KLTV) -

Kilgore College says their officers did not use excessive force, nor did they violate any local policies or state laws following an incident after a basketball game in February when Navarro College players were pepper sprayed. Kilgore College said those players were being unruly and making threats against the officer.

Richard Sanchez, the district president of Navarro College, said last month he is extremely disappointed in how his team was treated and expects something to be done about it.

The Kilgore College police chief writes in the report that he reviewed statements from multiple witnesses, and the statements were "polarized in view, a KC VS. NC if you will."

To summarize the report, a female employee of Navarro College was angry because she said Kilgore College students were using profanity during the game aimed at Navarro players. KC officers were called over and told the students to stop using such language. One KC employee told the chief he heard the students using profanity, but other KC employees said they did not.

The report says the female NC employee became angrier and angrier as the game progressed, and at the end was swearing at KC employees. Students, fans and some KC basketball players celebrated the win at center court. The female employee is seen in a video of the game speaking to a NC assistant coach, who then told a KC assistant coach that the celebration was "classless."

According to the report, NC players came out of the locker room," and both witnesses and officers said they appeared "very angry and wanting to fight," something that Navarro College Athletic Director Roark Montgomery doesn't deny.

"Our players I'm sure were having words with some of the Kilgore fans. I've seen some of the reports that say Kilgore students or fans did not approach our bench area, but they did," Montgomery said.

The Kilgore College report says police officers told the players to go back to the dressing room. But that's when, the report says, a NC assistant coach began blowing a whistle, and NC players began coming back out of the locker room. 

"I think is one of the more asinine things that said it could have been almost a pre-planned signal, and I assure you that that was not the case," Montgomery said.

A KCPD officer said he was trying to get the players back into their locker room when a NC assistant coach came up behind him using loud profanity towards him. The assistant coach then got between the KCPD officer and these players but was not doing anything to get the players back in the locker room. The KCPD officer said one of the players made the comment, "You wanna' go at it then let's go." That's when the KCPD officer began spraying pepper spray at the individuals.

The police chief says that the female NC employee should have been removed from the gym when she began using profanity at KC employees and others in the stands during the game.

"Her removal may have deescalated what took place later. This would follow suit for anyone who exhibits this type of behavior," the police chief wrote. "While we keep our fans and staff in check, there is a reasonable expectation that visiting teams do the same. There were enough witnesses that saw the behavior being exhibited by the NC employee that one would expect the NC staff would have done something about it rather than letting it continue."

The police chief also wrote that there will be additional security during rivalry games, and the college needs to install cameras in the gym.

Navarro College president Dr. Richard Sanchez said he is extremely disappointed with the report, saying there was no reference in the report to the information the Navarro College athletic director provided to KCPD.

"It disappoints me because the report appears to be a cover-up," Sanchez said. "It appears to be one-sided, and it is not a balanced report and it does not address the facts."

Sanchez is most upset that neither set of investigators contacted Montgomery, who was with the players when the situation occurred.

Montgomery says he is glad the incident didn't escalate further, but has one nagging feeling about the reports.

"It seems like they take no culpability or responsibility. And it's like the old adage, I guess, I think it takes two to tango, you know," Montgomery said. "I mean, we didn't create a disturbance in and of itself by ourselves."

Navarro College says it plans to conduct its own investigation, but has continued its spring sports schedule with Kilgore College as planned. They say relations are strained, but professional.

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