Sheriff's office closes case involving Florida high school coach's hard foul

The Lee County Sheriff’s Office released its report Wednesday of a hard foul committed by Fort Myers (Fla.) High School boys basketball coach Scott Guttery on a student during an open gym and concluded there is no evidence a crime was committed by Guttery.

The case was originally closed five weeks ago, an LCSO spokesperson told The News-Press, but new information re-opened it before it was closed again Tuesday after being deemed “unfounded.”

Guttery, who has led the Green Wave to six district titles and the 2010 state championship, was reinstated by the Lee County School District last week after 49 days on paid administrative leave despite remaining under a professional standards inquiry. He declined to comment on the sheriff’s report but was critical of the school district in public comment made during a school board meeting Tuesday night.

“Our district is in the habit of listening to disgruntled parents and lawyer’s allegations, and reacting to those accusations before speaking with their employees or their employee’s direct supervisors,” Guttery told the board during his comments. “In this particular case, our district reacted to a phone call from a litigation attorney and a false accusation of parents with a history of problematic behavior within the school system.”

More: Guttery, Fort Myers High basketball coach, pleads for change in how teachers are treated

The family of the student, Joshua Sanchez, retained Fort Myers-based attorney Sawyer Smith last month. He sent the district a letter of intent to sue, but a lawsuit has yet to be filed with the Lee County Clerk of Courts.

Smith responded to Guttery’ public comments.

“It’s pretty obvious Guttery is upset that he was investigated for causing a 15-year old boy a concussion,” Smith responded by text. “As they say, sorry (not) sorry.”

The incident happened on May 4 during a pick-up game involving students and members of the Green Wave coaching staff. Witness accounts and a surveillance video show a play where Guttery extended both hands to block a shot and made contact with Sanchez’s neck and face before Sanchez fell hard onto the court.

Multiple witnesses said in the report hard fouls of this nature were normal and part of pickup games. A few added Guttery extended his hand to help Sanchez up but was rebuffed before Sanchez got up on his own and headed to the sideline.

Sanchez and a teammate who was present stated there was pretext to the hard foul. Their accounts in the report mentioned a previous play where Sanchez called a foul on Guttery evoking an angry response from the coach.

While the teammate said Guttery sarcastically questioned Sanchez’s call saying, “Come on, man, That’s a foul? Really?”, Sanchez recalled a far more testy exchange. Sanchez’s account states Guttery told him “I will show you what a real foul looks like” prior to the hard foul.

Witnesses said Sanchez, who suffered a bloody nose in a previous game that day on a similar foul by a fellow student, returned to the game and went on to score the game-winning basket. Eventually, Guttery asked Sanchez to leave open gym for cursing, the report stated.

Sanchez’s parents, Stephanie and David, met with school resource officer Osvaldo Gamez May 5 to review surveillance of the pickup game. After taking a frame-by-frame look at the footage, the parents, who are current and former law enforcement officers, agreed the incident between their son and Guttery didn’t rise to the level of a crime and at no time informed Gamez of any injuries to Joshua Sanchez, according to the report.

More: Fort Myers coach Scott Guttery returns after being sidelined by hard foul on student

On May 9, accompanied by Smith, the family met with the LCSO. They said their son became dizzy and complained of a headache after being ejected from open gym. He began to dry heave later that night, they said.

Dr. Walter Lambert of the child protection team conducted a forensic medical examination of Joshua Sanchez May 18 at the Children’s Advocacy Center, but findings were pending at the time of the LCSO report release.

The family requested a meeting with principal David LaRosa but a scheduling conflict forced LaRosa to refer them to an assistant principal, a meeting the family never took.

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