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Pro football tapings and lawsuits: one day an injured rookie will collect millions

Sooner or later, the pro football goalpost tapings are going to injure a rookie who will lose a season or, worse, a step and his shot at playing. If the case below was worth $430,000, I wonder what that rookie will earn in a suit–and every sports agent ought to be advising their rookies on the matter. Certainly if it rises to the level of a criminal matter, each and every team owner and the NFL will have shown gross indifference to hazing. Old school hazing may be funny and admirable for Foxsports.com columnist Jay Glazer, but see how much humor a judge sees when the football “is in his court.” Moderator.

Deputy in hazing lands police post
Cooper was fired by Sheriff Department over 2003 incident

By Andrea Koskey/Appeal-Democrat
August 30, 2007 – 12:01AM

Bobby Cooper is back on the streets as a Marysville police officer, three years after being fired by the Yuba County Sheriff’s Department for his role in a hazing incident.

Outgoing interim Police Chief Jack Beecham, who hired Cooper, called Cooper “a real asset to the community.”

A Police Department colleague, Sgt. Dennis Hauck, said Cooper is “nothing but an ace officer. He always steps up when we need something.”

Cooper serves as a patrol officer as well as a field training officer. He began working for Marysville as a sworn employee Aug. 1. Cooper had served as a reserve officer for eight months.

The Sheriff’s Department fired Cooper in 2004 in connection with a hazing incident that took place in a Morgan Hill motel during a 2003 SWAT members conference.

Cooper, Sgt. Allan Garza and Deputy Joshua Jellsey were accused of tackling Deputy Chad Ellis and duct-taping his legs in the hazing incident. Ellis was injured.

The three were placed on administrative leave. Cooper was the only one fired over the incident.

Cooper pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge of false imprisonment. He was placed on one year of probation, fined $150 and ordered to perform 100 hours of community service, in addition to his termination.

Ellis sued Yuba County and received a $430,000 settlement last year. Cooper, however, was not listed as a party in that settlement. Ellis has since left the department.

Cooper last week agreed to speak with the Appeal-Democrat about the incident and his new job, but Hauck said Cooper was advised by his lawyer to decline the interview, citing pending litigation.

In 2006, Cooper sued Yuba County to get his job back. Cooper’s lawyers could not be reached for comment, nor could confirmation be made that this is the same legal matter.

“I stand behind him 100 percent,” said Beecham. “We picked up a real asset for the city of Marysville. He is an outstanding officer to the point that as a reserve officer, we also used him as a training officer.”

Beecham said he was aware of Cooper’s history prior to conducting a full background check. Beecham said he decided to hire Cooper based on his background and was approved for hire by the City Council on Aug. 7.

“We went through the standard hiring process,” he said. “Based on his background, we made the decision to hire him.”

Incoming Police Chief Wally Fullerton, who assumes his duties Sept. 1, declined to comment on Cooper’s hiring saying he didn’t know anything about Cooper or the officer’s past.

“I have faith in the hiring process,” Fullerton said. “I have no reason not to.”

Appeal-Democrat

By Hank Nuwer

Hank Nuwer is the Indiana-based author of Broken Pledges: The Deadly Rite of Hazing, High School Hazing, Wrongs of Passage and The Hazing Reader. He has written articles or columns on hazing for the Sunday Times of India, Toronto Globe & Mail, Harper's Magazine, Orlando Sentinel, The Chronicle of Higher Education and the New York Times Sunday Magazine. His new book is Hazing: Destroying Young Lives from Indiana University Press.

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