While high school football referee Ken Smotrys was being exonerated by the California Interscholastic Federation Wednesday of allegations that he uttered racial epithets at two Compton Centennial players during a game on Oct. 20, the attorney representing those players called the investigation a "whitewash job".
"I find it very interesting that the CIF could exonerate Mr. Smotrys without talking to either of the players who were directly involved," said Leo Terrell, the attorney representing Centennial players Kumasi Simmons and Vincent Brooks, who claim Smotrys uttered racial epithets at them in a game at Beverly Hills High. "The private investigators who handled the case were nothing more than hired guns. You can't believe the reliability of such a report."
Terrell refused to allow Simmons, Brooks or Centennial Coach Omar Bradley to take part in the CIF's investigation because he claims that they had already made statements to the police and to Centennial administrators.
"My clients had already stated on the record what happened, and I wasn't going to subject them to a massive cover-up," Terrell said.
Andy Patterson, the CIF's attorney, said the 75-page report was extensive and thorough.
The investigation was handled by the R.J. Frasco Agency in Burbank and was initiated shortly after Smotrys was punched by Simmons in the second half of the Oct. 20 game. Terrell said Simmons was provoked when Smotrys uttered a racial epithet at him.
While Simmons was being questioned by police, Brooks accused Smotrys of pushing him down and voicing a racial epithet at him during the same play in question.
The CIF said Smotrys, 34, is no longer on suspension and could resume officiating next season.
The investigation included interviews with all five officials who worked the game, as well as players from both teams.
Only one Centennial player backed up the allegations made by Simmons and Brooks, but he declined to be interviewed on the record because he said he was worried the case could go to court.
None of the officials heard Smotrys voice racial epithets. They also all said Bradley was out of control during the game.
According to Ernie Hammock, the line judge and the only African-American on the crew, Bradley was loud, obnoxious and referred to him once as "Uncle Tom".
One Centennial player stated that during the pregame meeting and at halftime, Bradley told the team to act like they always do when they are playing a predominantly white team and know they are going to be called names and take it out on the people on the football field.