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Florida sheriff’s sergeant arrested after allegedly punching referee during kids soccer game

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A Florida sheriff’s sergeant allegedly punched a referee during a children’s soccer game and was arrested on Tuesday. 

Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Michael Russell, who was removed from his position, was arrested on a felony charge of battery on a sports official, Sheriff T.K. Waters said via WJXT-TV

Waters held a news conference to detail the arrest, pointing out that despite Russell being one of their own, no one is above the law.

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A general view of the assistant referee running the line at Carrow Road Stadium home of Norwich City during the Premier League match between Norwich City and Wolverhampton Wanderers at Carrow Road on November 27, 2021 in Norwich, England. (Matthew Ashton – AMA/Getty Images)

“We never relish arresting an employee of this agency,” he said. “However, our collective belief in transparency, openness and accountability outweighs any personal allegiance. We are a society of laws, and no one is above those laws.”

The alleged incident with Russell occurred Sunday morning while he was off duty at the game. A fight had broken out between players on either team and referees tried to break it up, blowing their whistles and getting in the middle of the players.

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However, Russell felt the urge to go on the field and punch one of the referees, Waters explained. There appeared to be no explanation as to why.

A general view of soccer shoes and a soccer ball during a training session at the Smaragd Arena on Day 3 of the FC Red Bull Salzburgs training camp on June 27, 2022 in Bramberg, Austria.

A general view of soccer shoes and a soccer ball during a training session at the Smaragd Arena on Day 3 of the FC Red Bull Salzburgs training camp on June 27, 2022 in Bramberg, Austria. (Neil Baynes – FC Red Bull Salzburg/FC Red Bull Salzburg via Getty)

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“It’s really confusing to me. It’s disappointing,” Waters said.

Russell has been a member of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office for 14 years, but Waters mentioned that an “administrative review” will be coming for him after the criminal investigation reaches a close.

A generic Referee's Assistants flag during the Coca-Cola Championship match between Leicester City and Cardiff City at the Walkers Stadium on November 26, 2007 in Leicester, England.

A generic Referee’s Assistants flag during the Coca-Cola Championship match between Leicester City and Cardiff City at the Walkers Stadium on November 26, 2007 in Leicester, England. (Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)

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While Russell was removed from his post as a homicide sergeant, he remains in employment during the sheriff’s office investigation.



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