Coeur d’Alene police find evidence of ‘racial slur’ as they probe harassment of Utah women’s basketball team

Written by on April 4, 2024

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(COEUR d’ALENE, Idaho) — Video and audio evidence collected by investigators “corroborates” reports that members of the Utah women’s basketball team were harassed and subjected to racial slurs during an incident on March 21, 2024, police in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, confirmed Wednesday.

“We’ve identified an audio recording where the use of a racial slur was clearly audible,” police said in a statement Wednesday night. “We’re working to determine the context and conduct associated with its use to determine if it is a violation of the law. While we’re still reviewing evidence, it appears the use of a racial slur occurred more than one time.”

Police also released a photo of a silver car that was in the area at the time of the incident and encouraged anyone with information related to the vehicle to reach out to detectives at the Coeur d’Alene Police Department at 208-769-2320 or to submit a tip online.

Police said on Wednesday that detectives have now “conducted interviews with the involved parties,” and have also collected about 35 hours of surveillance video from businesses in the area as they investigate the incident.

A spokesperson for the Coeur d’Alene Police Department (CAPD) told ABC News on March 27 that local detectives and the FBI, which is “involved” in this case, planned to travel to Utah to interview the players.

The FBI told ABC News on March 27 that they are “aware” of the incident but have not launched an investigation, and added that if “information comes to light of a potential federal violation, the FBI is prepared to investigate.”

A spokesperson for the Utah women’s basketball team told ABC News on Monday that the team is “continuing to work with the authorities who are conducting the investigation and continuing to support our student athletes.”

According to a police report filed on March 21 by Robert Moyer, a witness who identified himself as a team donor who was traveling with the Utah women’s basketball team, the players were targeted twice while arriving at and leaving the Crafted Tap House, where they had dinner.

“Two lifted pickups (NFI) were revving their engines and speeding by the team as they walked down Sherman. The trucks then turned around and came back towards the team and yelled the N-word at them as many of their players are African American,” according to the report. “Robert stated the incident caused a well-founded fear among the players.”

ABC News obtained police body camera video that includes audio of Moyer’s call to 911 asking to meet with police to report the incident and his subsequent conversation with a police officer who arrived at the scene.

The Utah women’s basketball team, which is a part of Division I of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), was in Coeur d’Alene for several days to compete during March Madness, Moyer said, adding that he feared for their safety as they remained in the city after the incident.

“I’m so pissed,” Moyer said, before proceeding to tell a police officer that he wants to file a report after a group of white men “revving their engines” drove down the strip near the Crafted Tap House in Coeur D’Alene and they started “throwing the f-bombs and the n-bombs” at a group of Black female basketball players near the Crafted Tap House.

According to Moyer, the first incident took place at around “6-ish” and the second was at around 8:30 p.m. He said that after harassing the players before they went into the restaurant, the same trucks “were waiting for us to come out” and then did it again.

“That scared them. That scared them a lot,” Moyer said, adding that one of the players was in tears after the incident.

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Asked if he could describe the individuals or the trucks, Moyer said that one of the trucks was white and the trucks were “screamer trucks” that were “jacked up.”

The police officer confirmed to Moyer that he has written up a report and the incident is on record and encouraged Moyer to call the police if anything else takes place during their stay in Coeur D’Alene.

“If we hear that stuff and it’s in our presence, we will absolutely take them to jail, the officer said.

While the players have not spoken out publicly about the incident, Utah’s women’s basketball head coach Lynne Roberts addressed it during a post-game press conference on March 25.

“We had several instances of some kind of racial hate crimes towards our program and [it was] incredibly upsetting for all of us,” Roberts said. “Racism is real, and it happens, and it’s awful.”

The NCAA told ABC News in a statement on March 27 that the league is “devastated” by the incident.

“The NCAA condemns racism and hatred in any form and is committed to providing a world-class athletics and academic experience for student-athletes that fosters lifelong well-being,” the statement said. “NCAA championship events represent the pinnacle of a student-athlete’s collegiate career.”

ABC News’ Jade Lawson and Luke Barr contributed to this report.

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