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Coeur d'Alene prosecutor: No charges in racial incident involving University of Utah basketball team

by BILL BULEY
Staff Writer | May 7, 2024 1:09 AM

COEUR d'ALENE — Criminal charges will not be filed against an 18-year-old Post Falls student in connection to a racial incident that received national attention in March, according to the city's chief deputy city attorney Monday.

"In short, I cannot find probable cause that Anthony Myers’s conduct — shouting out of a moving vehicle at a group of people — constituted either Disturbing the Peace under state law or Disorderly Conduct under the CDA Municipal Code. Instead, what has been clear from the very outset of this incident is that it was not when or where or how Mr. Myers made the grotesque racial statement that caused the justifiable outrage in this case; it was the grotesque racial statement itself," wrote Ryan S. Hunter in a six-page complaint review charging decision dated May 3.

Read the full review at cdapress.com.

The March 21 racial incident was reported in downtown Coeur d’Alene involving the University of Utah women's basketball team.

According to the charging decision, the team and others walked from The Coeur d'Alene Resort several blocks to Crafted on Fifth Street and Sherman Avenue for a dinner reservation for 90 people at 5:30.

"The U of U contingent arrived at Crafted shortly after 5:35 p.m., with no obvious indications captured in surveillance video recordings or corroborated by third-party witnesses that anything was amiss with the group or any of its members," Hunter wrote.

At about 7 p.m., the contingent began leaving Crafted and walked westbound on Sherman Avenue back toward The Resort in multiple small groups. At about 7:15, surveillance video captured a silver passenger car driving westbound on Sherman Avenue from which someone can be heard shouting a racist and obscene comment.

The incident was reported to police about 10 p.m. by Robert Moyer, a donor for the University of Utah basketball team traveling with them.

It occurred shortly after the traveling party arrived in the area to participate in the NCAA women’s basketball tournament’s first and second rounds, hosted by Gonzaga University in Spokane.

A few days later, city leaders held a press conference and apologized. The event received national media coverage.

According to a March 26 statement from the University of Utah, "the players, band and spirit teams, as well as staff, administrators and supporters “continue to be deeply troubled and shaken by the hateful and disturbing actions and vitriol directed toward them in Coeur d’Alene."

Paul Kirk, senior associate of strategic communications with University of Utah Athletics, could not be reached for comment on Monday.

Police later said that audio and video recordings they reviewed corroborated reports of what happened, and they were looking for the driver of a silver sedan in connection to the incident.

Police also sent an investigator to the University of Utah, where 11 people were interviewed.

According to Hunter's report, the Coeur d'Alene Police Department’s "subsequent exhaustive investigation determined the identities of the four occupants of the silver passenger car and, ultimately, confirmed that one of the individuals in that vehicle, Anthony Richard Myers, an 18-year-old student at Post Falls High School, made the offensive statement containing the racial slur, to which he subsequently confessed during interviews with law enforcement.”

Hunter wrote that the investigation also established that Myers "had shouted the N-word as the vehicle passed in front of Crafted just before saying it again as part of the obscene statement directed at members of the U of U contingent."

Hunter also wrote that Myers later tried to retract part of his confession and said another person in the car made the obscene and racist statement.

"However, there is very little evidence to support that post-hoc claim, while there is substantial evidence corroborating his original admission," Hunter wrote.

While it was initially reported that two lifted pickups were revving their engines and speeding by the team, the charging decision document said that was not accurate.

Hunter wrote that “there exists no audio or video evidence to substantiate the initial report that several vehicles were revving their engines and speeding by in an intentional effort to intimidate and/or harass the U of U contingent as they traveled to or from dinner at Crafted. However, although not captured in an audio recording, five credible eyewitness statements confirmed that someone shouted the N-word at a particular member of the U of U contingent during their walk to Crafted.”

But Hunter wrote that those accounts varied widely in the description of the vehicle and persons involved in shouting a racial slur “with the only uniformity as to the identity of the perpetrator being that it was a white male.”

In his decision, Hunter cited numerous municipal codes and the 2004 case of State v. Poe before the Idaho Supreme Court to outline why charges of malicious harassment, disturbing the peace and disorderly conduct could not be successfully filed in this case.

"Our office shares in the outrage sparked by Anthony Myers’s abhorrently racist and misogynistic statement, and we join in unequivocally condemning that statement and the use of a racial slur in this case, or in any circumstance. However, that cannot, under current law, form the basis for criminal prosecution in this case," Hunter wrote.

In summarizing the charging decision, Hunter wrote: “Prosecution declined due to insufficient evidence to establish probable cause as to every element of any of the potential offense(s) without reliance on First Amendment protected speech."

City leaders responded to the decision at the request of The Press

"I'm disappointed the law doesn't allow us to hold those people accountable for the hurt that they caused," Mayor Jim Hammond said.

Coeur d’Alene City Councilwoman Christie Wood said she respected and appreciated the work of law enforcement and the prosecutor’s office with this case.

“I think they made every effort to seek justice,” she said. “We are a nation of laws, and we abide by the laws.”

However, Wood said the victims “need our support and the validation this did occur.”

She said after the incident was reported, many questioned its veracity and some even called it a hoax, which she said was “totally unfair.”

She said the city continues to be sorry for what happened and will continue to support the victims.

“We will focus at the city on inclusiveness, diversity and respect,” Wood said.