The Whitman County Prosecutor declined to pursue criminal charges against a University of Idaho football player who punched out a Washington State University athlete at a Pullman house party March 24.
Police recommened both players be charged, but Prosecutor Denis Tracy said he could not rule out that Roman Runner, a wide receiver for the Vandals, acted in self defense when he hit Mansel Simmons, a receiver for the Cougars.
Simmons suffered a severe concussion from the fight and has said he won’t play football again. He continues undergo rehabilitation from his head injuries and hopes to return to WSU and earn his degree.
In a letter to Simmons sent this week, Tracy said evidence suggests that Runner hit Simmons. But he could not prove that Runner’s blow was malicious.
“In fact, he probably was acting in self defense,” Tracy wrote.
Tracy also said he had evidence to pursue a disorderly conduct charge against Simmons, but given the nature of Simmons’ injuries and that he did not harm anyone other than himself, he decided not to press charges.
The fight broke out after members of the UI and WSU football teams had an argument at a party on the 300 block of NE Ash Street in Pullman. The argument escalated in the parking lot on the corner of Maple and Ash, where both Runner and Simmons were held back by friends. Simmons charged Runner, who then punched Simmons. Both men fell to the ground.