Another entrant into the "Discuss Fastpitch Stupid Parents Hall of Shame": Gary Melson!
As some background, Coach Curs has been successfully coaching youth sports. She regularly produces good teams.
When a little league coach turned to shut down a heckler at a girls' basketball game, she knew he was an off-duty police officer, but she never imagined she'd end up facing years of jail time. Now Jessica Curs, the 31-year-old mother and veteran youth league coach, is crying foul, and the local police department is firing back.
Her first interview about the incident appeared Monday on KTXA TV in Dallas, and the following day Alvarado police chief Brad Anderson posted a scathing 1,100-word Facebook post (since deleted, see full text below) criticizing KTXA, defending his captain and offering a very different narrative.
Here's what they agree on: In mid-February, Curs was coaching a 4th grade girls' basketball game for the Burleson Youth Association against Alvarado. Burleson and Alvarado, two small cities, about 10 miles apart and south of Fort Worth, are classic rivals with a history of uncordial relations, especially in youth sports.
Alvarado police captain Gary Melson was keeping score.
Curs said Melson was sitting directly behind her, on the side of the court reserved for only coaches, the score keeper and the school monitor. Melson, in a T-shirt and jeans, heckled her throughout the game, the coach said.
With two minutes left in the game a foul was called, and Curs said Melson offered a snide comment.
"That's when I turned around. What I wanted to say was 'quit being a dipsh-t,' but all I said was quit being a dip ..." she said. "No one heard it except for him and me."
But in his Facebook post, Chief Anderson wrote "Curs screamed out a profanity, namely using the word 'dick' in front of bleachers full of parents and kids. This action caused numerous parents to rise to their feet and began confronting Curs, complaining and demanding action from APD Capt. Melson." He reiterated that claim in an interview with the Chronicle.
Curs called that "extremely inaccurate." Burleson Youth Association treasurer Paul Friedman said the association did an internal investigation after the incident. But since all the parents were sitting on the far side of the gym, none had any knowledge of what happened, he said.
Friedman said that only the referee, Andy Love, had some recollection of the spat.
"I turn to report my foul and I've got some guy standing on the edge of the gym floor grabbing a coach by the arm, trying to pull her off the court," Love told KTXA.
In spite of Chief Anderson's assertion that Curs "has a history of questionable behavior," Friedman said he's never received a complaint about her in the nine years he's manned the group's email account.
At the basketball game, Melson flashed his badge and ordered Curs to leave the gym and talk with him in the parking lot. So with two minutes left in the last game of an undefeated season, she forfeited the game on behalf of her team and followed Melson outside.
According to Chapter 14 of the Texas code of Criminal Procedure, an off-duty police officer who is outside his jurisdiction may detain or arrest someone if they cause "a breach of the peace."
As tears streamed from Curs' players in the parking lot, Melson called the Burleson police, but after a brief investigation decided not to press charges for disorderly conduct. That seemed like the end of it.
But two weeks later, Curs got a startling letter in the mail: a warrant for her arrest on charges of evading arrest. She turned herself in the next day, got booked, paid her bail, spent six hours in jail and was released. That seemed like the end of it.
In spite of urging from friends and community members to challenge the apparent injustice, Curs wanted to leave it behind her.
But on Friday, Curs' attorney Jonathan Michell told her that the district attorney would take up her case--that she would go to trial and could face up to three years behind bars.
So Curs called KTXA TV, which she said had been asking for an interview since the incident occurred, and consented to go on the record.
"Everyone has told me 'you need to do something about this, you can't let this guy get away with this," she said. "Finally I agreed. I'm not going to sit and let them do this to me."