FBI investigates violent arrest of fan at Ole Miss football game

Reuters News
Posted: Nov 23, 2015 6:41 PM

By Karen Brooks

(Reuters) - The Federal Bureau of Investigation is looking into the violent arrest of a fan at University of Mississippi football game after a video showed a security officer punching the man in the face during the arrest, school officials said Monday.

The video, which went viral over the weekend, shows two security officers confronting a man in the stands at Saturday's matchup between Ole Miss and Louisiana State University at the Vaught-Hemingway Stadium in Oxford, Miss.

The man is identified as Chris Barnes by his wife, Holly Barnes, who posted the video on her Facebook page. In the video, Chris Barnes is smiling during his conversation with the officers when one of them appears to punch or push him, causing him to fall down behind some nearby spectators.

The officers pull Barnes back up, and then one officer punches him in the face as the crowd around them reacts in shock and some fans start trying to pull Barnes away from the officers.

"We do not tolerate violent behavior on our campus, and our request for an independent FBI investigation should make it clear that we are taking this situation very seriously," said University Police Department Chief Tim Potts in a news release.

The release said the FBI arrived on campus on Monday to begin their inquiry.

The officer in question, who has not been identified, was an off-duty officer from the nearby New Albany Police Department working security for the game and has been placed on paid leave pending the investigation, New Albany Police Chief Chris Robertson said in a statement.

Barnes was arrested during the incident and posted bail four hours later, his wife said in her post. It was unclear what charge he was booked on, and officials at the Lafayette County Jail declined to release the information.

Barnes asked friends to take him to the emergency room, where he was diagnosed with a concussion, fractures to his orbital wall and maxillary sinus and damage to eye tissue, Holly Barnes posted.

"This all stemmed because the officers thought he did something that someone a few rows up did and blamed him and his friends," she wrote in her post, which asked that the officer who punched her husband be punished. "YOU ARE NOT ABOVE THE LAW. THIS IS NOT OK."

(Reporting by Karen Brooks in Austin, Texas; Editing by David Gregorio)