MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A basketball player from Hamline University in St. Paul is in a Spokane, Wash., jail after apparently punching a woman in the face on New Year’s Eve, authorities said.
Eugene Lawrence and his Hamline teammates were out west over the holidays for a basketball tournament at Whitworth College. After a game on New Year’s Eve, Lawrence and a teammate, Tyler Pannell, were with Pannell’s friend, 20-year-old Kayla Bray.
According to court documents, Bray’s father said she gave Pannell a ride to a hotel and at some point she got into an argument with Lawrence. What the argument was about is unknown at this time, but police said that’s when Lawrence punched her in the face and knocked her to the ground.
Police said she had to call 911 for help herself. The players involved refused to call 911 because it would’ve broken their team curfew rules.
Lawrence made his first appearance in Spokane County Court Thursday morning and was charged with felony second-degree assault in connection with the incident. A Hamline assistant basketball coach who was at the court hearing had no comment on the matter.
Officials with Hamline University have not made any public comments about the matter. Lawrence had played in nine games for the Pipers this season, but as of Thursday morning, his name and complete biography had been removed from the Hamline athletics web site. According to a statement the school released to KXLY-TV, Lawrence has been suspended from the team while the incident is being investigated.
“We are very concerned for the welfare of Ms. Bray and regret that this incident happened. Eugene Lawrence has been placed on an interim suspension from the basketball team and the University, and we are fully looking into the incident. We have reached out to the Bray family and shared with them our concern and support for their daughter,” the statement reads.