A football coach at a California high school has been suspended and could possibly face criminal charges after cellphone video emerged showing him punching a student in the stomach.
The footage, which was turned over to police in the first week of October, purports to show a male student at Beaumont High School standing in front of coach Will Martin with his arms raised in the air.
Moments later, Martin take a swing and drives his right fist into the boy’s belly, causing him to double over and eliciting laughter from his classmates.
Gut punch: Will Martin, head football coach at Beaumont High School in California, was caught on video earlier this month punching a student in the stomach
After the video was turned over to the school and the local police, Martin (pictured taking a swing at the teen) was suspended
Kids in the room – incluidng the boy getting punched by the coach – can be heard laughing
Martin delivered a quick jab to the gut, causing the teen to double over, eliciting peals of laughter from the spectators
One of the student present in the room captured the incident on his cellphone and showed it to his parents, who then alerted the school, ultimately sparking a police investigation, and also leaked it to the station NBC4.
According to the teenage whistleblower, couch Martin has been known to use punching as a disciplinary method, and that dozens of students have allegedly been subjected to it.
The unnamed Beaumont High School student said the couch would make his team members lift their hands above their head and shut their eyes before punching them in the stomach as punishment for bad behavior.
The Beaumont Unified School District learned of the video on October 3 and turned it over to local police, who are now investigating to determine if charges should be filed against Martin.
According to a statement from the district, coach Martin was placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.
‘We want to reassure parents that our No. 1 priority is the safety and well-being of our students, and that the Beaumont Unified School District takes reports of teacher misconduct very seriously,’ the press release stated.
Some local parents, however, have spoken out in defense of the benched coach.
Martin, a married father of five, joined the staff at Beaumont High School in March 2016
Jessica Taylor, whose son is on the football team, said she thinks the punch was blown out of proportion.
‘If it’s so bad, why are the kids laughing? Why are the kids thinking it’s funny?’ she said. ‘I don’t see a problem with it. My son says there are drills where you get hit like that, and my son says, “Mom, it’s football.”’
Another parent at the school, Jeff Furtado, praised Martin as a ‘great coach’ and insisted to the station KCAL that it was just horseplay.
Mando Cuellar said his son was present during the incident depicted in the video and said all the boys laughed together afterwards.
‘I know this man personally and he’s a man of god,’ Cuellar said of the coach.
On Monday, a second cellphone video emerged on social media showing the same punching incident from a different angle.
In the minute-long clip, coach Martin instructs his player to stand against the wall, lift his hands above his head and close his eyes.
Peals of laughter are heard in the room and the boy has a hard time keeping a straight face. After several aborted efforts to stand still with his eyes shut and his arms raised without cracking up, he finally settles down and braces for the coach’s gut punch.
Martin jabs the teen once, causing him to bend and grab his stomach. More laughter is heard.
Martin, a married father-of-five, joined the staff at Beaumont High School in March 2016, coming off of a stint as a defensive coordinator at Rancho Mirage High School.
According to an article published in the Record Gazette on the eve of his installment as head coach at Beaumont, Martin played cornerback for national junior college champion Riverside City College in 1989 and worked as an NFL coaching intern for the San Diego Charges and Jacksonville Jaguars.