A Marshall football player has been dismissed from his Marshall University football team after police say he attacked a gay couple last month as they walked down the street in Huntington, WV.
Investigators said the couple involved, Zackery Johnson and his partner, Casey Williams, were walking down the street, when Butler spotted them embracing and kissing from a passing car and began yelling slurs at them before getting out of the car and punching them in the face.
“He was traveling in the vehicle, he saw this, saw these two individuals walking, saw them give each other a kiss. He had the driver stop the car, he gets out, confronts him and said some choice, some bad choice words,” HPD Detective Chris Sperry said.
The violent April 5 attack is not being treated as a hate crime since the couple are not protected under West Virginia state law.
Marshall University officials have condemned the actions of their player calling them “bigoted” and “violent” and said they won’t be tolerated.
Marshall Athletic Director Mike Hamrick issued a tweet late Wednesday afternoon saying, “Coach Holliday and I have decided to dismiss Steward Butler from our program in light of additional information regarding his charges.”
Investigators say most of the confrontation was caught on camera, because one of the victims started recording it all on his cell phone, and even caught the getaway car’s license plate.
Investigators said after Butler punched the two men, in an apparent hate crime, the other two Marshall players told him to stop and leave.
Huntington Police said Butler claimed the attack was out of self-defense and that none of the men in the confrontation knew each other.
Detectives said they’re looking into the self-defense claims because Butler stopped and got out of a moving car.
We also asked investigators if he was suspected of using drugs or alcohol, but they said that was unknown.
A quick look at court records show Butler doesn’t seem to have much of a criminal history in West Virginia.
However, in his home state of Florida, in Polk County, we tracked a handful of arrests, including one charge for battery of a police officer in 2009, just before he turned 18.
Though police said they believe this case is a hate crime, they said state statutes don’t protect sexual orientation as a civil right.