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Savannah youth football coach fired, will face child abuse charges for striking player

Savannah youth football coach under investigation following striking one of his players
A Savannah-area youth football coach has lost his job and is under investigation by a Florida Sheriff's Office after being recorded hitting one of his players on the sideline during a game. (Credit: Osceola County Sheriff's Office)

SAVANNAH, Ga./OSCEOLA CO., Fla. (WTGS) - A Savannah-area youth football coach has lost his job and is under investigation by a Florida Sheriff's Office after being recorded hitting one of his players on the sideline during a game.

According to the Osceola County Sheriff's Office (Fla.), the coach will face charges of child abuse.

The Osceola County Sheriff’s Office along with our local state attorney’s office has reviewed this case and the decision has been made that charges for child abuse will be filed, regardless of the parent’s decision not to press charges," Maj. Jacob Ruiz said in a statement.

The incident report is below:

The incident happened on Tuesday in Kissimmee, Fla. and the Savannah Police Department took to social media to address the situation.

Over the past two days, we have received numerous messages on social media regarding the actions of a Savannah-area youth football coach that were caught on video and has been shared widely on social media," the SPD said in a statement. "We thank you all for passing along this information for our detectives to look into. We want to assure everyone that we did immediately look into this and quickly learned that this incident occurred while the team was out of town. After contacting the police department in the city the team was at when the incident occurred, we learned that their detectives had already begun investigating the coach's actions.

The coach in the video was an employee at the Chatham County Sheriff's Office. Sheriff John Wilcher says he fired Gerrell Williams Thursday morning. Williams worked as a counselor at the Chatham County Detention Center.

CCSO reviewed the video and we are very disturbed by the actions of Mr. Gerrel Williams," Wilcher said. "The Chatham County Sheriff’s Office does not condone this behavior. As of Dec. 10, 2020, he is no longer an employee of the CCSO.

The team was reportedly called "the Gators", which was the name of a youth football team in a league run by the City of Savannah. But that league was suspended early on in the pandemic and the team pictured in the video has no affiliation with the city's sports leagues.

The City released this statement:

The City of Savannah suspended our league for the 2020 season and have NO involvement despite the team using the Savannah Gators name," according to City of Savannah spokesman, Nick Zoller.
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