Indiana News

Police recommend criminal charges in basketball melee

GRIFFITH, Ind. (AP) – Police in northwest Indiana say they’re pursuing criminal charges in connection with a Feb. 7 brawl that cleared the benches at a high school basketball game between Hammond and Griffith high schools.

The (Munster) Times report that Griffith Police Chief Greg Mance moved forward with the recommendation for charges after both schools declined an alternative plan for discipline. But attorneys for both Hammond and Griffith school districts said their clients opted not to participate in the alternative discipline because they were previously told by the prosecutors office no charges would be filed in the case.

“We were advised by the Lake County Prosecutor’s Office that no charges would be brought against any of the student-athletes involved in the Feb. 7, 2015, incident, which was communicated to the Chief of Police in Griffith,” according to a joint statement issued Thursday by Rhett Tauber, attorney for Griffith High School, and Michael Jasaitis, attorney for Hammond High School. “Thus, upon that reliance, any alternative proposal became moot. Therefore, we are hopeful that the recommendations brought will be examined and rejected accordingly.”

Mance indicates, in a Thursday statement, that it is now up to the prosecutor’s office whether it will move forward with the charges. He declined to identify the names of the people involved or specific charges sought.

Griffith Town Council President Rick Ryfa said the parties involved left police no choice but to file charges.

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“We understand the efforts by the Griffith Police Department to implement some type of deferment plan were rejected, leaving them no choice but to file charges,” Ryfa said. “We support and have full confidence in our chief of police and all our officers.”

Lake County Prosecutor Bernard Carter did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

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