Last week Vanderbilt basketball coach Kevin Starlings made ESPN Sportscenter for a remark that Stallings wish he would never have yelled. Right after Vanderbilt beat Tennessee , a player made some gestures that could be construed as unsportsmanlike . Stallings yelled at the player after the game " I am going to kill you". It happens all the time . One might make that statement not meaning any harm. However , could Coach Stallings been arrested for that threat ?
Under Tennessee criminal law , one can be charged with a simple assault under three different theories. Tennessee Code Annotated 39-13-101 sets forth the following elements of simple assault.
(a) A person commits assault who:
(1) Intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causes bodily injury to another;
(2) Intentionally or knowingly causes another to reasonably fear imminent bodily injury; or
(3) Intentionally or knowingly causes physical contact with another and a reasonable person would regard the contact as extremely offensive or provocative.
Under the facts of the Stallings incident , (2) could be applicable .The key wording is did Stallings intend or knowingly cause the player to fear imminent bodily injury. The answer to the inquiry is know. Stallings was upset and said some things he regrets. Let’s look at whether threats could get one arrested. You ball up your fist and yell at someone that you are going to punch them in the nose.In this example there are some other facts that may cause the person to fear getting hit . Also , the threats can’t be remote like a threat by text or phone. No one is in close proximity .
The big takeaway is be careful what you say and yes you can get arrested for making verbal threats in the right situation.