Jan. 5, 2005 - It's been more than four months since Emmitt "Lee" Williams was arrested for assaulting a football coach following a youth football practice and still major felony charges continue to elude the former league president.
Now the victim, Rob Hamblen, is seeking damages as a result of the incident, which he says left him with neurological damage and permanent hearing loss. Hamblen filed a civil suit against Williams in hopes of recovering the $30,000 he says it will cost him in medical expenses.
The Pima County Sheriff's Department arrested Williams Sept. 2 on charges that he assaulted Hamblen, head coach of the Marana Broncos' Midget team of the Tucson Youth Football and Spirit Federation. Williams, who was serving as president of the Marana-based youth football association at the time, was initially booked on felony assault charges after he allegedly struck Hamblen several times with a metal folding chair following a team practice at Arthur Pack Park, 9101 N. Thornydale Road.
"I believe they are trying to sweep this thing under the rug," said Hamblen, who believes that Williams is getting preferential treatment from prosecutors because he is a Tucson Police officer.
To date, Hamblen claims he has not been updated per Victim's Rights Laws, which entitle him to be informed of every step of the investigation and prosecution. The only time he was notified was after Williams' release from prison, said Hamblen.
"They tried to minimize the damage," he said, "I'll do anything I can to expose this."
On Sept. 14, the Pima County Attorney's office reduced the charges against Williams from felony assault to simple assault, a Class One misdemeanor. Despite eyewitness statements, from up to 15 bystanders at Arthur Pack on Sept. 2, prosecutors decided to reduce Williams' charges based on what it deemed to be minimal injuries suffered by Hamblen, who claims the attack was unprovoked.
Hamblen said he was told by the Pima County Attorney's office that if it prosecute this case as a felony assault, they'd have to prosecute every bar fight and similar brawls.
The 10-year coach of the Broncos said he will need to permanently wear a hearing aid after losing 15 percent of the hearing in his left ear resulting in the attack by Williams. The Pima County Attorney's office was surprised to learn of Hamblen's physical status when told by the EXPLORER, claiming the coach failed to inform them of his condition when the two sides originally met to discuss the case in September.
"In the victim's initial visit with us in our office that didn't come up," said Rick Unklesbay, the Chief Trial Counselor for the Pima County Attorney, of the extent of Hamblen's injuries allegedly inflicted by Williams in September.
Williams has a history of disciplinary actions taken against him by TPD. Including his recent arrest in September for allegedly assaulting Hamblen, Williams was investigated by TPD Internal Affairs 11 times since 1999. For his roles in those investigations, the 52-year-old TPD officer received several major written reprimands and one suspension.
Williams has not been disciplined by the TPD for the recent altercation with Hamblen. The Internal Affairs Bureau of the Tucson Police Department is still investigating William's role in the Sept. 2 incident and doesn't expect a ruling for up to a month, said a TPD official.
A 16-year veteran of the TPD, Williams is currently on active duty at Operations Division West, 1019 W. Prince Road.
Despite not facing felony charges, Williams will face up to six months in prison, and/or a maximum fine of $2,500 and a one-year probation for simple assault, a Class One misdemeanor. Because the case is being tried as a misdemeanor, it will be heard in Pima County's Justice Court rather than in Superior Court.
According to Unklesbay, the delay that Hamblen is experiencing is natural and cases of this nature usually take six to eight weeks to reach the Justice Court. No records of the misdemeanor charges were found at the justice court by the EXPLORER. The case should be available in justice court any time now, the prosecutor said.
Hamblen said he was recently told by TPD Internal Affair's Office that the delay in prosecution was a result of the recent shakeup of the Pima County Attorney's office.
In early December, Pima County Attorney Barbara LaWall fired one deputy county attorney and suspended three others for their alleged mishandling of the murder investigation of a Tucson doctor.
Williams' day in court won't end in the Pima County Justice Courts. Hamblen filed a civil suit against Williams, the Marana Broncos and the Tucson Youth and Spirit Federation to recover the costs of his hearing aid and other medical expenses which he said are a result of the Sept. 2 fight.
Hamblen met with Marana Broncos officials to assure them he will reimburse any costs to the organization.
"I'm not going after the Broncos," said the coach who has been with the program since 1994. "If they lose any money I will donate it right back to the Broncos."
Despite having its own insurance to cover the various injuries and other related mishaps that accompany any season, the Broncos are also covered under the Tucson Youth Football and Spirit Federation's insurance policy.
"We cover all our volunteers," said TYFSF president, Jerry Dini of the federation's multimillion-dollar policy, which insures all 15 of its organizations.
"We have a large liability plan. If kids get hurt and don't have insurance, we become their primary."
Dini said the federation's insurance covers everything from major injuries to child molestation.
All three sides have been served with notice of his intention to sue and proceedings are expected to commence shortly after the new year.