By now you might be familiar with the story of a Virginia man who sought out law enforcement after he was hit with what eyewitnesses have described as a “hard screen” or “hard pick” in a game of pickup basketball Monday evening at an LA Fitness. After a gym employee called 911 to report that a member had been “assaulted,” the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office dispatched a cop to the gym. Deadspin has obtained the officer’s body-cam footage from this visit, and it’s like being treated to an alternate view of the Mona Lisa.
The officer talks to the front desk clerk and quickly forms a profile of the victim: “He’s tall and he has a beard ... he’s probably, like, Middle Eastern ... black shirt ... a little shorter [than the police].” Soon enough the officer is talking to both the hard screener and the hard screenee just outside the gym’s basketball court.
SCREENER: So big man pushed me in the back while we’re standing underneath the basketball—all I did was make a basketball play into him like this [mimes making a basketball play into him]. That’s all I did. If he wants to cry about that that’s a basketball—it’s part of basketball.
SCREENEE: Brandon, Brandon, you know that you didn’t do that. Admit what you did. Admit what you did—
SCREENER: No. That’s all I did.
After listening to some tense crosstalk, the officer cuts off both men and asks a few clarifying questions. He learns that the men have known each other for a few years, from “gym, business, stuff like that,” per the screenee. Then he cuts to the heart of the matter: “Is this something where you’re gonna press charges for assault and battery, or just some heated basketball shit?”
SCREENEE: I mean, I thought it was just heated, but I mean, I’m not gonna have him run straight down, and elbow me in the head—
SCREENER: And I’m not gonna take you punching me in the back either.
SCREENEE: I know but—
SCREENER: And then you called me a bitch right afterwards too.
SCREENEE: I called it, yeah.
POLICE: Sounds to me like some normal basketball shit.
SCREENER: That’s all it is.
POLICE [to SCREENEE]: What is it?
SCREENEE: [long pause] It’s not normal basketball shit.
It soon becomes clear that all the screenee wants is for the screener to be kicked out of the gym for the day. The police officer states that this is not his decision to make, but rather the gym manager’s. (“My job is to press charges against people that commit crimes,” he reminds everyone.) The gym manager tells the players they can both leave or both stay. The screenee appears unsatisfied by this ultimatum.
SCREENEE: I don’t have a choice. If I press charges, he’ll come retaliate against me, if I want to go home, if I want ...
POLICE: Look, I’m not saying you have to press charges, I’m saying in terms of whether you stay or go is not my decision. Do you want a police report filed for this particular incident?
SCREENEE: [flustered hand gesture, walks back onto court]
The police officer then engages in some good-natured banter with the gym manager and some gym-goers before leaving the facilities. “I ain’t here for you!” the police officer says to some men who appear strong. “He takes steroids,” says the manager, walking away. “Okay,” says the police officer.