The details of what happened on Saturday night at Charleston’s Embassy Suites, where hundreds of people were celebrating West Liberty University’s WVIAC Championship win, depend on who you ask.

Charleston Police arrested four people while trying to clear a crowd of an estimated 200 people.

Those four were West Liberty Athletic Director James Watson, 66, his son, Brian Watson, 28, Tyler Tucci, 22, a football player at West Liberty and Gabrielle Davis, a volleyball player.

Charleston Police Lieutenant Steve Cooper was not at Embassy Suites on Saturday night, but he says he stands by the actions of the Charleston officers after fully reviewing the case files.

“It appears that we acted within the scope of our duty and as professionally as we could,” Lt. Cooper said on Monday’s MetroNews Talkline.  “Every officer, every independent witness, all made statements on paper at the same time and they all tell the exact same story.”

Charleston Mayor Danny Jones is backing the officers as well.

A West Liberty faculty member who was scheduled to talk about what she saw on Saturday night on Monday’s MetroNews Talkline canceled the appearance “on the advice of counsel.”

Lt. Cooper says two officers initially responded to a call from Embassy Suites about noise complaints at about 10:30 p.m. and quickly requested more assistance.  The officers were trying to break up the large crowd that had taken over the lobby and bar area.

Former West Virginia University Athletic Director Ed Pastilong was there and says he walked into what seemed like a celebration.

“It wasn’t just all students.  There were a lot of parents and a lot of followers of West Liberty there, so it was a mixed crowd.  There a reasonable number of people there, as you expect, following winning a conference championship,” Pastilong said on Monday’s MetroNews Talkline.

He says he talked with Jim Watson and several others before a Charleston Police officer approached them.

“We were instructed by the police officers to immediately go to our rooms and it was clear, from the officer, that he wanted us to go to the room so, fortunately, I followed his instructions,” Pastilong said.

Lt. Cooper says the whole incident could have been avoided if people had done what Pastilong did.

“Several attempts were made by the officers to get everybody to go back to their rooms and they just refused,” he said.  “Once Brian Watson began inciting things, the crowd gathered around the police.”

Lt. Cooper says, when officers were in the process of arresting Brian Watson on drunk and disorderly charges, James Watson, who has been West Liberty’s AD for 23 years, stepped in and allegedly pushed a police officer.  He was arrested and charged with obstruction.

Others are denying claims that there was a push and have come to the defense of Jim Watson.

“I’m sure the Athletic Director is a fine person, but it only takes a couple of seconds to make a bad decision, an emotional decision,” said Lt. Cooper.

Tucci and Davis were involved in a separate run in with police that ended with pepper spray being used on Tucci.

The four people who were arrested were released from the South Central Regional Jail on bond Sunday.

The West Liberty Hilltoppers beat Fairmont State for the team’s third straight WVIAC Championship.  West Liberty is ranked #1 nationally in NCAA Division II.

 

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Comments

  • Irishman

    There are rules that need to be followed. Ebassy Suites is a classy hotel establishment and brings in people from all over the U.S. to do business. It's not a hotel just built so that West Liberty can engage in a drunken celebration. Shame on the 4 arrested for not being professional enough to do as the police requested. It gives what should be a very proud moment for an excellent University and gives it a black eye.

  • joe

    I am sure the establishment was upset, but if there were that many intoxicated individual int he bar why is the city, the state abc comm questioning the bar serving this many people until they are intoxicted to the point of a mob and then calling the police. Maybe the city should reques the abcc license be suspended until the investigation is complete as they have done with other establishments in Charleston.
    Or is there some sort of arbitrary treatment to different business establishments.

  • MaryL

    "the tri-state area including Wheeling and Pittsburgh is really a lot more sophisticated than the Charleston area"... what does that mean? I'm thinking if the championship game was held in Podunk, KY, these drunks would have still been arrested. They should know better no matter where they are, Charleston or Wheeling. Like you're trying to blame the fact that they were in a 'less sophisticated' area, so they got arrested ... ?

  • Wowbagger

    West Liberty isn't too lively itself, but the tri-state area including Wheeling and Pittsburgh is really a lot more sophisticated than the Charleston area. Frankly these folks should know better. Ever since this story broke I can't help thinking about Joe Bartell the West Liberty Athletic Director of the 1950s and 60s, and the guy one of their athletic buildings is named. He was a true sportsman, a gentleman, and a church elder who would have been totally disgusted at this sort of behavior. There is big money in sports today, but old fashioned sportsmanship is long dead!

  • Poppo1

    Never have heard of someone being arrested in a bar on public intoxication charges. I thought most people in a bar were intoxicated.

  • wirerowe

    Jon The shame is that these idiots who did not play one minute of basketball this year are taking the headlines away from Coach Crutchfield and his amazing basketball players. I know there may not be much to do in West Liberty and surrounding states and coming to Charleston may be like a Mardi Gras. .But public intoxication and obstructing an officer are crimes in most places and probably even in West Liberty if you check..The hotel management called for the police because the party was getting out of hand and the police calmly ask everyone to go to their rooms. Eddie Pastilong did as they requested. The others didn't .Why? Because some and most likely most were drunk. There is a reason that we have pubic laws against public intoxication and obstructing an officers. I would suggest that they sober up before they think about suing on this one.

  • Mike

    Jon -

    I'm sure you'd have a different view if you were a guest there and trying to get some shut eye. Besides, if the staff called, police were more than justified in their actions

  • Jon

    A police officer walking in to a private establishment and ordering people from the bar and to their rooms is not a stretch if you live in Russia or Cuba. That's called Tyrany, and I'm quite sure Danny Jones and all his liberal friends support Tyrany. Their arrogance proves that.

    • thornton

      The Hotel called police due to the drunks causing a ruckus.
      Police responded.
      Drunks are not normally wise and therefore 1+1=2.

      I believe the operative thought is...act like you have been there before.