KISSIMMEE, Fla. – A youth football coach caught on video striking a player twice during a game in Central Florida now faces criminal charges.
The Osceola County Sheriff’s Office on Friday said Gerrel Williams, of Savannah, Georgia, faces child abuse charges.
It wasn’t known if charges would be filed because the boy’s mother did not want to pursue the case, according to authorities.
“The Osceola County Sheriff’s Office, along with our local state attorney’s office, has reviewed this case and the decision has been made that charges for child abuse will be filed, regardless of parent’s decision not to press charges,” a statement from the Sheriff’s Office said.
Williams has also been fired from his job with the Chatham County Sheriff’s Office.
“CCSO reviewed the video and we are very disturbed by the actions of Mr. Gerrel Williams,” agency officials said in a statement. “The Chatham County Sheriff’s Office does not condone this behavior. As of Dec. 10, 2020, he is no longer an employee of the CCSO. Mr. Williams was not a deputy; he was a counselor in the detention center.”
The video, which has been viewed millions of times since it was posted Wednesday on Twitter, shows Williams hitting one of the players as the boy walked toward his team, which was huddled around the coach.
[WARNING: Graphic language can be heard in the following video and disturbing actions can be seen. Viewer discretion is advised]
No room in the game for coaches like this. I hope he is arrested and banned for life. pic.twitter.com/1B0F2cLiqH— Coach Reed (@CoachReed314) December 9, 2020
Authorities said the video shows Williams turning around to face away from the field, shouting a few words, then turning back around a few moments later and striking the player again, knocking him to the ground.
The child quickly stands up and the coach crouches down to say a few words to him before he grabs the player’s helmet, shakes it and pushes the boy away from the group, the video shows.
“Get off the field!” Williams can be heard yelling in the video.
Deputies said they were notified about a case of possible child abuse Tuesday afternoon by someone who said they were from out of town but had video of the incident that had taken place Monday at at Austin-Tindall Park in Kissimmee, according to a report from the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office.
The person who reported the incident told deputies he didn’t know anyone in the video but “wanted it to be in the right hands.”
After seeing the video, investigators reached out to American Youth Football league officials, who identified Williams as the coach and said he has been expelled from the league and is no longer allowed to attend any games.