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MISSOULA Montana Grizzlies safety Justin Strong, arrested over the weekend in Pullman, Washington, for felony assault, told police he was breaking up a fight at a house party and later hit a man who’d first struck him.

Booking documents identified the man who was hit as Bradley Meyring. The 5 foot 9 senior, who goes by “Wyatt,” competes in hammer throws for Washington State University’s track team, according to the school’s athletics website.

Strong is Montana’s starting free safety and leads the team in interceptions. His three interception day against Portland State in September earned him multiple national player of the week awards.

Denis Tracy, the county attorney for Whitman County, Washington, confirmed to the Missoulian on Tuesday morning that no charges have been filed against Strong. The second degree assault count on which he was arrested is a felony in Washington state.

“There are a number of witnesses we would like to re interview and we suspect there are other witnesses we have not yet identified that we would also like to interview,” Gary Jenkins, the Pullman’s police chief, said Tuesday afternoon. “Some witnesses reported two other male subjects with Mr. Strong who may have been with him during the assault, and investigators are working to identify those subjects so that we can get their statements.”

Police were dispatched Saturday to a dispute in Pullman’s College Hill neighborhood after a caller reported a “group of guys beating up an unconscious male.”

Two other men, according to the police report, were with Strong. Their names were not listed in the report. According to witnesses, they were all wearing Washington State apparel.

Strong’s younger brother Marcus plays football for Washington State and the Cougars had a home game against Colorado Saturday night.

Strong was arrested for second degree assault on Saturday morning and booked into Whitman County Jail in Colfax, Washington. His bail was set at $50,000 via telephonic hearing, but was released on his own recognizance on Monday morning.

Strong did not appear to be under the influence, according to booking documents.

Strong said he was breaking up a fight at a house party and was between the two people fighting when he was hit from behind by Meyring. Witnesses told police Strong had a cut lip and a swollen right eye, according to the documents. Strong said Meyring ran and that he chased him, but Strong calmed down and stopped chasing him.

Strong told police the fight continued later. According to the police report, Meyring walked up to Strong with his fists balled. Strong told police he hit Meyring while he was standing and said it was in self defense. After being hit, Strong said, Meyring fell to the ground. Strong told police once Meyring was on the ground, he tried to get up and Strong hit him again.

Two witnesses told police a different story.

The witness said he saw Meyring run out of the house party with three men chasing him one of them Strong. The witness said he followed them. After running for a few blocks, the witness said Meyring turned around and put his “open handed palms” up toward the men chasing him, in an effort to not fight.

According to the witness, Strong punched Meyring in the left side of the face with his fist. That punch knocked Meyring to the ground. The witness said Strong hit Meyring once more while he was on the ground and believed that Meyring’s head injury came from falling to the ground after the first punch.

Another witness told police that Strong and another man hit Meyring several times while he was on the ground.

The arresting officer detailed in the report that Meyring was “bleeding heavily.”

According to police reports, Meyring suffered a fractured skull and a hematoma and was flown out of Pullman to Spokane Saturday morning for additional medical care.

As of Tuesday morning, a spokeswoman for Providence Heart Medical Center confirmed Meyring was still in the hospital, but no update was given because “at the patient’s request, no information is being shared.”

Kent Haslam, Montana’s athletic director, told the Missoulian on Monday evening that protocol regarding Strong would follow the student athlete code of conduct.

Per the University of Montana Student Athlete Code of Conduct, felony charges are a Category I violation.

The preliminary action for when charges have been filed, according to the Code of Conduct, is as follows:

“The Athletic Director or his/her designee shall take preliminary action to temporarily suspend a student athlete from participation in practice, competition, and/or access to athletic department services when a student athlete has been charged with a felony. The suspension is indefinite pending the outcome of criminal proceedings and disciplinary action by the ACT, which as soon as possible shall be informed by the AD or designee of the temporary suspension and meet to discuss the issue.”

The preliminary action for when charges have not been filed is as follows:

The mandatory minimum, according to the Code of Conduct, for a first offense of a Category I infraction is dismissal from the team.

As of Monday evening, Haslam was still in the fact finding process in regard to Strong’s punishment. He told the Missoulian in a phone call that when more is known, “We’ll definitely announce what’s going on.”
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