Investigations are ongoing after a Utah County sheriff’s deputy detained a Ben Lomond High School basketball player on Jan. 17 at Cedar Valley High School in Eagle Mountain during a basketball game between the two schools.
The player, a black teenager who wasn’t identified, was reportedly sitting inside the Cedar Valley gymnasium during the boys varsity contest in a section marked for the home team’s fans when he was asked to leave by a Cedar representative.
In a video posted to YouTube of the aftermath of the incident, a woman who identified herself as “Sharon” told Ben Lomond assistant principal Day Thomas-Smith that the player refused to leave his seat.
It’s unclear how law enforcement became involved, though it’s standard at a lot of schools to have a law enforcement presence at home sporting events. It’s unclear how or why the situation moved outside the gym.
Neither the Ogden School District, the Alpine School District (in which Cedar Valley High resides) nor the Utah County Sheriff’s Office gave exact details of the events that unfolded that led to the detainment.
Shortly after the video begins, the sheriff’s deputy handcuffs the student and makes him lie down on a section of rock fill next to a concrete walkway outside the gym.
“Sorry, I just got a complaint that players were saying things behind the girls, went up asked the players to move, the majority of them moved, he did not, I asked him over and over to move, he questioned me and I said — I pointed out the sign that says ‘Aviator Fans.’ Please move and then we asked the coach to come and get him. I apologize I’m really sorry, that’s not how we like to roll here … really sorry about that, that’s unfortunate,” the woman named Sharon said to Thomas-Smith.
It’s unclear what Sharon was apologizing for, and her full identity could not be determined. An error message showed up when trying to access Cedar Valley High’s staff directory page on its website Tuesday and Wednesday.
The student wasn’t booked into law enforcement custody. He was “detained” and released that same night, and allowed to travel home with the team, according to Ogden School District spokesman Jer Bates.
It’s unclear whether the student was cited for trespassing, or if the student was the only person who was the subject of law enforcement intervention.
The video ends a couple minutes after a tense exchange among the sheriff’s deputy, the person filming the video and a man who identifies himself as an assistant principal at the school.
“We want to discover everything that did happen, we want to correct any wrongs that might have happened and we want to work with our school, the host school Cedar Valley High School and all law enforcement to do everything we can to make sure we don’t find students or visiting students in situations like this in the future,” Bates told the Standard-Examiner.
Bates didn’t release specific details of the incident. The Ogden School District is investigating the matter.
“That student’s parent was notified that evening by our school administrator who was on scene at Cedar Valley High. The student and the student’s parent and an advocate for the family met with the school administration and Coach Beard (Tuesday) morning as part of the ongoing investigation. I can confirm that I know that Cedar Valley High School administration is also investigating the situation from their end and I’ve been told in speaking with a representative from Utah County Sheriff’s Office that they are conducting their own investigation,” Bates said.
The incident has been decried by advocacy groups, such as Black Lives Matter, and it’s sparked outrage for many who say this was a racially motivated action against the player.
Ben Lomond High boys basketball head coach Tanoka Beard wrote in a Facebook post on Sunday, “Dealing with this firsthand, It’s just saddening and disgusting that there is still racial disharmony in 2020.”
Beard didn’t respond to multiple requests for comment. Bates said the district is aware of the concerns that race played a part in the conflict.
The Utah County Sheriff’s Office denied a public records request by the Standard-Examiner for the incident report because the investigation is ongoing.
Cedar Valley opened in the fall of 2019 in Utah County to address overcrowding at nearby Westlake High in Saratoga Springs.
The school has a ninth-12th grade enrollment of 1,990 students, according to Oct. 1 enrollment numbers compiled by the Utah State Board of Education. Its enrollment is expected to increase dramatically next year.
Alpine School District spokesman David Stephenson issued a statement on Tuesday.
“Based on an incident that occurred at a basketball game on Friday, January 17, an ongoing investigation is underway by Cedar Valley High School. Both schools are working together to create an atmosphere that is positive between the two schools. We are sorry that there were issues at the game and hope to have a resolution soon,” the statement read.
Ben Lomond and Cedar Valley are members of Region 10 in the Utah High School Activities Association. This was the first ever meeting in basketball between the two schools.
Region teams play each other twice per season in basketball. Ben Lomond is scheduled to host Cedar Valley on Friday, Feb. 7.