An Archer man ejected from the sidelines of a Newberry-Union County football game in Lake Butler and detained by law enforcement on Oct. 29, 2021, will likely head to court this summer.
The incident came as part of a contentious night in which Union County dominated Newberry on the field. Referees had called personal foul penalties on both teams, then in the closing seconds of the third quarter they ejected a volunteer coach from the Newberry sideline.
Mainstreet Daily News tried to confirm the name of the man at the time, but Newberry coaches and school officials declined to comment after the game. According to a Union County Sheriff’s Office (UCSO) warrant affidavit obtained by Mainstreet, the coach was Geronnie Tirell Rollins, 46.
The affidavit presents the incident as described by UCSO deputies Travis Rimes and Andrew Johnson, who were summoned to the Newberry sideline due to a disturbance.
“The man in all black needs to leave the field,” multiple referees and a member of the Newberry coaching staff told the deputies, according to the affidavit.
The man wearing all black clothing was Rollins, whom one referee said had been ejected from the game and refused to leave, according to the affidavit.
“I approached Geronnie, Geronnie was yelling ‘[Expletive] that, I am not leaving!’” Johnson wrote in his affidavit statement. “Geronnie was ordered several times to exit the sidelines, to which he continued yelling profanities. At this time, Deputy Rimes grabbed Geronnie by his left arm in an attempt to escort him off the sidelines, to which Geronnie snatched away stating, ‘Don’t put your [profanity] hands on me [profanity]!’”
According to Johnson, “at that point force became necessary to bring Geronnie into compliance with the lawful orders given by the deputies. He grabbed Geronnie’s upper torso area and redirected him to the ground.”
Johnson and Rimes handcuffed Rollins and escorted him to a nearby patrol vehicle, where he eventually was released to then-Alachua Police Chief Chad Scott, who was at the game.
In November, the Eighth Judicial Circuit for Union County charged Rollins with trespass on grounds or facilities of a school after warning, resisting an officer without violence and for interfering with an educational institution.
Based on video of the event and photos taken by Mainstreet Daily News, Rollins’ attorney, Dan Sikes of Starke, said his client should not be prosecuted.
“They are charging him with trespassing on the sidelines when he is an assistant coach and they charged him with resistance without violence when he is leaving the field and he gets attacked from behind,” Sikes said in a phone interview.
The UCSO did not immediately press charges against Rollins, but when Rollins went to the UCSO to complain about his treatment, deputies moved forward with charges, Sikes said.
In a Nov. 4 Mainstreet follow-up story, UCSO Capt. Lyn Williams said the deputies took Rollins to the ground because he refused to cooperate with them when they tried to escort him off the field.
“He bowed up like he was going to fight the deputy,” said Williams, who added that charges remained a possibility.
Williams also denied that the incident was racially motivated, as some alleged, because both deputies are white and Rollins is black.
On Wednesday, Williams confirmed to Mainstreet that Rollins came in weeks after the incident to file a complaint, but by then, the state attorney’s office “had already decided to go forward with these charges.”
Sikes expects a court date in June or July.