PROVO A Brigham Young University football player has been charged with assault for allegedly hitting a man outside a movie theater in February.
Fahu Tahi, a Cougar running back who returned from an LDS mission last fall, was charged in Provo City Municipal Court with one class A misdemeanor count of assault, stemming from the Feb. 12 incident, according to court documents. Tahi has been summoned to appear before a municipal judge on April 17.
Provo police say Tahi took inappropriate action in response to a disruptive moviegoer.
According to Provo police, Tahi was with a group of four other Polynesian friends, including BYU football player C.J. Ah You, at Movies 8. Witnesses inside the theater said the alleged victim, Michael Riffle, a Utah Valley State College student, was boisterous during the film.
"The victim, according to the (police) report, was being loud and disruptive during the movie, which was causing the feelings," said Provo City police spokeswoman Karen Mayne. Witnesses told police that several movie patrons had attempted to quiet Riffle down. "He was asked by many people in the theater to be quiet," Mayne said.
At 12:27 a.m., Riffle, accompanied by 15 other male and female friends, was confronted by Tahi and his friends outside the theater.
"The verbal exchange was heated," Mayne said. "It just kind of escalated."
Police officers who wrote the report characterized the situation as Tahi and his friends being surrounded by 15 of Riffle's companions, Mayne said. The tension soon snapped and Tahi allegedly threw a punch, striking Riffle in the face.
Mayne said the confrontation soon ended after the punch was thrown and that Riffle drove himself to the hospital for medical treatment. Riffle told the Deseret News he suffered a broken nose. Riffle said he is a member of the Army's Special Forces and spent seven months last year serving in Afghanistan.
Tahi did not sustain any physical injury, according to the report.
BYU coach Gary Crowton said in a statement Tuesday, "I have been aware of this situation for some time and have been working closely with the Honor Code Office to ensure the issue is handled appropriately."
The Honor Code Office is reviewing Tahi's case, said BYU spokeswoman Carri Jenkins.
Tahi participated in spring drills, which concluded last month, and is listed on the BYU depth chart as the backup to starting running back Marcus Whalen. Tahi led the team in rushing in 1999 as a freshman before leaving for a two-year mission to Jacksonville, Fla.
Ah You was at the scene of the alleged assault, according to Provo police, but he was not cited. In March, Ah You, a BYU defensive lineman, struck former teammate Bret Engemann in the face at the Smith Fieldhouse.
BYU's Honor Code Office has placed Ah You on "enhanced probation" for hitting Engemann, Jenkins said.
"Probation allows a student to stay in school and work with the Honor Code Office to meet certain conditions," she said. "With enhanced probation, there are additional requirements and restrictions."