At many schools, there’s a tendency for athletes to at least appear to get a different set of rules than everyone else. The minimum SAT or ACT scores, for example, are much lower than for the rest of the student body, and people have long known how some athletes coast through school without having to learn much of anything.
But a self-defense shooting in New Mexico takes all this to a new level.
New Mexico State basketball players and coaches skipped town in a university-owned bus while investigators were trying to interview them and find the gun that was used by one of their players in a self-defense defense shooting on the UNM campus hours before tipoff, according to a report obtained by Target 7.
As a result, a detective sped down Interstate 25 with lights and siren on and pulled over the bus as it was headed back to Las Cruces with evidence on board.
Eventually, state police found the gun with an assistant basketball coach at an Albuquerque hotel, a tablet on the bus and the cell phone belonging to NMSU forward Mike Peake that ended up in the hands of a university administrator in Las Cruces. Two coaches had initially said they did not know where the gun was, according to the report.
Target 7 reached out to New Mexico State University officials, and they would not answer any questions.
“I don’t want to say the coach was obstructing,” said Darren White, who used to oversee the state police when he was public safety cabinet secretary. “It’s clear to me he wasn’t cooperating.”
Now, this is interesting because, as noted above, it looks like a pretty clear self-defense shooting. Peake was lured to an area, then attacked and even shot at before he returned fire.
It also doesn’t appear that Peake’s gun was stolen or obtained in any other illegal manner, at least not that I could find in this story.
So why not just guide the players into stepping up?
I get that a lot of people are distrustful of the police, but these are athletes who have an entire university behind them. They’re not exactly “random dude on the street #3,” who would arguably have more reason to be concerned.
Now, someone is actually in deep trouble and it doesn’t look to be Peake.
Instead, the coaches may well be facing charges.
However, I can’t help but wonder how much of this was due to ignorance of self-defense laws. I’m not excusing the coaches, mind you, but anyone familiar with use-of-force laws would, depending on the state, look at this and think, “Yeah, it’s self-defense.”
I get why the police were investigating–they needed to make sure it was–but the obstruction by the coaches likely didn’t help Peake. If anything, it made him look guilty. It appears that the only reason he wasn’t charged was that the facts were just too clear.
Athletes often get a pass and get protected at many schools, but this is one case where that protection could have been the worse thing in the world for that athlete.