A youth football coach in Florida is facing criminal charges after hitting a 9-year-old player. Gerrell Williams, the now-former coach of the Savannah Gators in Savannah, Georgia, hit one of his players twice in the head during a viral video and prompted scrutiny from LeBron James and many other prominent figures. The victim's mother did not want to pursue charges, but the prosecutors have decided to move forward with the case.
"The Osceola County Sheriff’s Office along with our local state attorney’s office have reviewed this case and the decision has been made that charges for child abuse will be filed, regardless of parent’s decision not to press charges," Maj. Jacob Ruiz said in a statement. "The actions of this person are despicable and there is zero-tolerance when it comes to the abuse of a child." This statement followed a police investigation into Williams' actions, as well as a public outcry for him to go to jail.
You see a coach do this to your kid, what are you doing? 😡
(via @CoachFore)December 10, 2020
Following the video going viral, AYF Vice President Adam Laufer spoke out. "We are of course beyond disappointed in the coach's actions, which are wholly inconsistent with the fundamental value of youth sports. The coach has been banned indefinitely from all future AYF events and activities," he told TMZ. The AYF is a youth football league with a presence in all 50 states, as well as six countries.
In addition to losing his job as a youth football coach, Williams faced discipline from another place of employment. He was fired from his job as a counselor at the Chatham County Sheriff's Office detention center. Now he will face criminal charges for his actions on the video.
"For everybody that has seen the video and everyone that have something negative to say, I apologize for my actions about what took place," the coach said in an apology video, "but at the end of the day, I am a man and I'm not going to make no excuses for what I did. I was wrong.
"I shouldn't have disciplined him in public. ...At the end of the day, I apologize to him, the kids, the city down here and my family back at home," he continued. "There's no excuse for my actions." Williams also said that both the player and his parents forgave him for the hits. The coach finished by saying, "nobody should be bashing me."