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Video at Falcons' football camp shows coach boxing player unconscious

Posted: April 5, 2013 - 5:27pm

What is apparent from the video is that freshman-to-be Jacob Weir is defenseless.

Weir and an opponent are facing each other with boxing gloves on, standing amid the mattresses, suitcases and belongings of the Thunder Mountain High School football team on their trip to a team camp at Gold Beach, Oregon, last summer.

Weir wears no headgear. His future Falcons’ teammates cheer.

A jab from Weir’s opponent indicates this may not be an even match. Weir’s opponent lands a left hook, then a right cross.

In the video, Weir turns his back and bends over. His arms are limp and hang straight down.

The opponent follows Weir and throws a right uppercut from behind that glances off the already staggering Weir. The opponent continues to follow, approaches to Weir’s right and throws an uppercut, using the force of his body behind the blow. The punch lands squarely. 

Weir's head is already below chest level. His arms seem lifeless, his body is slumped.

Then another punch connects. Weir falls to the floor, his body half on an air mattress and half off.

His opponent, amid cheers and whoops, raises his arms and parades about the room.

It appears there are no coaches or adults present except for Weir’s opponent, John Wahl, a parent and assistant coach traveling at the time with the team.

“The parent in me wanted to go right over to his house and take care of this,” Jacob Weir’s father, Richard, said. “But I can’t do that. The video shows assistant coach John Wahl knocking my son out - sucker punching him. I guess they were boxing or something. My son clearly has his back to him and is hunched over and he hits him and knocks him out cold.”

Richard Weir said he first learned of the video Thursday when Thunder Mountain High School principal Dan Larson called from his school office. According to Weir, a Juneau Police Department school resource officer was also with Larson.

“They told me my son was not in trouble and I was not in trouble,” Weir said. “Then, they told me they had a video that showed an assistant coach knocking my son out cold. They sent me the video yesterday. The police told me that it is 100 percent coach John Wahl my son is boxing.”

Weir said the police were going to the prosecutor concerning possible criminal charges.

“You can see plainly my son has his back to him and is hunched over, and he comes up and sucker punches him from behind and knocks him out,” Weir said.

Larson did not return phone messages from the Juneau Empire.

According to JPD Sgt. Chris Burke, police became aware of the video when a complaint was filed by Thunder Mountain High School administration. Schools are mandatory reporters, meaning any type of incident such as suspected child abuse or similar incidents must be reported.

“It is true and it is being investigated,” Burke said. “It is currently an active investigation. Once we have all of our interviews down and completed everything, and documented our facts, if there is a violation of the law, then we will make a recommendation to either the district attorney and/or the city attorney depending on what charges or what level of charges are appropriate.”

TMHS head coach Bill Byouer said he did not know about any video and the first he heard of it was from a Juneau Empire reporter. Byouer takes the TMHS team to the Gold Beach camp each summer.

TMHS assistant coach Brandon Mahle, also on that trip, said he was told by school authorities not to comment about the video until interviewed by the JPD. Mahle said he was to be contacted today (Friday).

Mahle said he first learned of the video yesterday and identified Wahl as an assistant coach on the trip and in the video.

Juneau School District superintendent Glenn Gelbrich said the district is aware of the video and investigating. He said the “employees that are allegedly involved are on paid administrative leave pending the results of that investigation.”

When asked if John Wahl was the coach in the video, Gelbrich said he wasn’t at liberty to identify the employee.

According to Floyd Dryden administration, Wahl, a math teacher, was not at school Friday. Calls to Wahl’s home were not returned.

“I think that what we have is a set of allegations that, if true, are very disturbing and that would not meet our expectations,” Gelbrich said. “But what we have to do is we have to establish what the facts are. We certainly have been told how people characterize what went on there and, if that is true, than obviously we are very disturbed by that.”

Gelbrich said once school officials have established the facts in the case, “we’ll take the appropriate action. If these things are true than obviously we have some pretty serious work to do.”

Richard Weir stated his son, a linebacker on the junior varsity team last season, missed a few games after the incident.

“Since the incident, he has not been right,” Weir said of his son. “He has been complaining of head problems, neck aches and back pains and all kinds of stuff since then.”

Jacob Weir is currently at the Miller House, a mental health center operated by Juneau Youth Services.

“He has never been a problem until this incident,” Richard Weir said. “He told us he did not say anything about the incident because he was afraid of the coach. He did not want to see him at practices or on school grounds and started skipping classes. He was very depressed.”

When reached at the Miller House concerning the incident, Jacob Weir said the football team was relaxing at one of the rooms they were staying in at the Gold Beach camp. A member of the team had brought boxing gloves, and the team wanted to get some energy out as they had a game the next day.

Jacob Weir said coaches approved the boxing, but said not to get hurt.

“He got kind of wound up and wanted to box some of us kids,” Weir said of coach Wahl. “He asked me to box and I said OK, but no face shots.”

Jacob Weir said he made a gesture that he was through, after the coach hit him in the face. Weir then turned around.

“He hit me and it knocked me out,” Weir said. “I didn’t expect him to hit me and knock me out. He went all over me.”

Jacob Weir said he was unconscious for about a minute and has had neck problems since. He did not tell his parents about the incident and thought head coach Byouer knew about it because all the kids were watching.

“I was scared of the coach,” Weir said. “I didn’t want anything to happen to me, like, with my football career. I love football more than anything and want to be a football player when I grow up.”

Jacob Weir stated his step brother, Drew Gardner, also played on the TMHS Falcons’ football team this season and “We played together, like a team.”

Jacob Weir said he wants to be in the Miller House for a bit to work on his coping skills, self esteem and impulse concerns. He is also embarrassed by the video and scared of the coach.

“That was part of the reason,” Weir said. “I saw him when he picked up his kid at Thunder Mountain and he kind of scared me. He didn’t apologize and I figured he should. It doesn’t feel right.”

Richard Weir stated his attorneys are reviewing the video.

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