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UI’s Runner might face felony charge over punch


An Idaho football player could face a felony assault charge for his part in an altercation that ended the career of former Washington State receiver Mansel Simmons.

Pullman Police announced in a press release Wednesday that they are recommending a second-degree felony assault charge against Idaho receiver Roman Runner for allegedly delivering the punch that fractured Simmons’ face and caused a severe concussion in the early morning hours of March 24.

Whitman County prosecuting attorney Denis P. Tracy will decide whether to file charges in the case.

Runner also allegedly displayed a knife, according to the release, but put it away before Simmons charged at him, which is when Runner punched Simmons in the head and knocked him to the ground.

An Idaho spokesperson said the school will allow the legal process to run its course. Runner participated in spring drills after the alleged assault occurred.

Police are also recommending a misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct for Simmons, who announced in late April that he was forced to quit football due to the injuries he sustained

The altercation started after Runner and three of his friends were asked to leave a party in the 300 block of Northeast Ash Street in Pullman. As Runner and his friends walked to their vehicle to leave, according to the release, they were confronted by a group of 10 to 20 men who were also attending the party.

When Runner’s group returned to their vehicle later, they were again confronted by the local group, according to police. Witnesses reported Simmons and Runner were both being held back by friends, and that Simmons broke free and ran at him but was punched in the face before throwing any punches himself, according to police.

Pullman PD Cmdr. Chris Tennant said Simmons is not subject to assault charges because he never actually engaged in the fight.

After Simmons was knocked unconscious, police allege that Runner and part of his group fled the scene while one of them remained and called 911. Simmons was taken to Pullman Regional Hospital, then transferred to Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane where he was treated for his injuries.

Police found a pistol near the scene but could not confirm if it was related to the altercation. There was also damage to the vehicle the Idaho group arrived in, but police were unable to identify a suspect.