Judge defers ruling

Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 25, 2006

in basketball game assault case

By Ray Holley

The Selma Times-Journal

Last December, spectators at a Dallas County &045; Keith High School basketball game witnessed a Keith fan slap a DCHS player after taunting fans and players by waving a Keith jersey in their faces. The fan, Shemkia Johnson, 27, was charged with assault and disorderly conduct, according to Dallas County Sheriff’s officials.

Judge Bob Armstrong heard testimony from Eric Ross, the 17 year-old senior DCHS player who was slapped and other witnesses for both sides.

According to John Oxford, assistant district attorney, Armstrong had said he felt there was enough evidence to convict Johnson of the charges. However, &8220;it was a situation that just got out of hand and he didn’t want to put a criminal conviction on her record,&8221; said Oxford.

Armstrong decided to defer ruling on the case for a year and in essence, put Johnson on probation.

Shortly after the incident occurred, Michael Jackson, district attorney, had stated, &8220;We’re going to do everything we can to make sure that these sporting events for kids are violence free. Those that commit violent acts will be prosecuted.&8221;

In response to Armstrong’s light ruling in the case, Jackson said, &8220;We all get angry sometimes at sporting events, but as adults we have to keep our temper under control. At the very least, our office wanted her to complete an anger management course. There should be consequences for your actions.&8221;

Part of the fun of attending a game between two rival teams is the fan’s involvement in rooting their team to victory, suggested Oxford. However, Johnson’s behavior was &8220;completely inappropriate.&8221;

The slap cleared the benches and several spectators converged on the game floor, putting both teams in jeopardy. Dallas county officials decided to call the game because they did not feel it was safe to continue, resulting in the win going to Keith.

Children follow the example that parents, teachers and other adults around them set. Commenting on Johnson’s behavior, Jackson said, &8220;We as adults in the community have to set an example for our kids. When we exhibit bad behavior our kids tend to follow our example.&8221;