After the football game Friday night in Centre between the Oneonta Redskins and the Cherokee County Warriors, a Cherokee County fan got into a scuffle with the Oneonta SRO who was with the team. The incident occurred after a Cherokee County player said that one of the Oneonta Coaches used a “racial slur” towards him. The fan who was involved was the uncle of the player who made the claim about the racial slur.
Oneonta Police Chief Charles Clifton said he became involved when some of the fans alerted him that the SRO could use some help. By the time the chief arrived on the scene, the man had shoved the officer to one side and was headed toward the coaches when Chief Clifton got between them and the fan. According to Clifton, he told the man he was under arrest and that is when Clifton was hit in the jaw. According to the Chief, he went to the emergency room for treatment. He said that although he expected the man to be arrested by the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Department, but no arrest was made.
WEIS News reached out to the Cherokee County Sheriff’s department about the situation and received the following statement from Chief Deputy Josh Summerford:
An altercation occurred this past Friday night at the conclusion of the Cherokee County Warriors winning the state semi-final game. It was reported that a Cherokee County fan confronted a member of the Oneonta coaching staff for alleged racial remarks. Oneonta’s Police Chief, Charles Clifton, stated that he was struck in the face during the confrontation. Cherokee County SROs, LT. Kelley and Deputy West, responded after the alleged strike occurred. Our professional SROs deescalated the situation by removing the suspect. SROs were not informed about any strike until after the suspect was removed. Deputy West completed an official police report, and on Monday morning, the case was referred to the State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) for an investigation to be completed. A referral was made to the SBI to avoid any appearance of conflict because Clifton is a previous CCSO employee and the suspect is a spouse of a CCSO employee.
According to the Code of Alabama, striking an individual is generally a misdemeanor and an on-scene arrest cannot be made by a law enforcement officer unless an officer witnesses the strike. Under specific circumstances, striking a law enforcement officer, is a felony and requires an investigation. The allegation is of a potential felony and the SBI has been requested to conduct that investigation.