Threats and slurs are audible on the 21-second exclusive video NBC4 obtained of the hotel incident involving Westlake High School Football players. The August incident ultimately led to the suspension of several students although, after a police investigation, none of the football players were charged. Patrick Healy reports from Westlake Village for NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Sept. 2, 2013.
A threat to "f- you up" can be heard during the angry Honolulu encounter that led to a police investigation of Westlake High school football players, according to cellphone video obtained by NBC4 News.
The video appears to have been recorded by one of the five freshman who were confronted by seniors in a hotel room at the Honolulu Hyatt Place. The football team members, along with coaches, and many parents, had traveled to Hawaii for pre-season games.
An allegation that one freshman had been sexually assaulted triggered the law enforcement investigation. No charges have been filed, and the school district's own investigation found no evidence of a sexual assault, according to Jeff Baarstad, superintendent of the Conejo Valley Unified School District.
The confrontation came after seniors felt that a freshman had acted disrespectfully, the district concluded. Six seniors were suspended for one to five days, and will remain on athletic suspension for three games before they can appeal, Baarstad said.
That does not send a strong enough message, according to one Ventura County parent who has seen the video and brought it to NBCLA's attention.
The video had been posted briefly on Instagram before it was removed.
"The superintendent is playing this down," alleged the parent, who asked not to be identified.
In the 21-second video, a young man can be heard saying, "They're trying to hit me."
Later, he addresses an unnamed "coach," presumably expected to be shown the video at some point. Jostling of the camera produced blurry video, and even with repeated viewings, it is virtually impossible to make out who is doing what.
At one point a football jersey is glimpsed briefly. During the video, the "N" word is heard twice. It's not apparent who said it.
District investigators concluded there was no racial element to the confrontation. None of those who was present and interviewed reported hearing slurs, Baarstad said.
NBC4News has learned there were African-American student athletes among both the seniors and the freshman.
Some Westlake parents said they believe one of the freshman, from a well-to-do family, in effect baited the seniors. Baarstad said the seniors needed to take the issue to their coaching staff, not take matters into their own hands.
None of the freshmen involved in the incident were disciplined. The District's investigative work has been turned over to the Ventura County Sheriff's Department for review "out of an abundance of caution," Baarstad said.
Baarstad said the district does not have a copy of the video obtained by NBC4, and requested one for investigators to examine.
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