For those of us familiar with the tales of riots following intense hockey or soccer games, it comes as no surprise that some passionate sports fans are capable of serious aggression and violence. But it’s not specific to any one sport; as two 49ers season ticket holders discovered last year, sometimes the alcohol and the energy of football fans can lead to unexpected danger.
While attending a 49ers game in 2014, brothers Kiran and Amish Patel were attacked in a Levi’s stadium bathroom by two reputed gang members, Dario and Amador Rebollero. The incident was supposedly captured in a video posted on YouTube, in which one man punches another three times while other fans stand aside and watch. This summer, Amador was sentenced to five years in prison after pleading guilty to two felony assault charges related to the incident. That’s not the end of it, say the victims–now, they’re suing the team.
According to the Patel brothers’ lawsuit, filed last Friday with the Santa Clara County Superior Court, the San Francisco 49ers did not ensure the proper stadium security to protect fans from the possibility of violence. Not only does it call out their own beating incident, but it also alleges that the team was already aware of the possibility of violence at NFL games, and suggests that the 49ers are simply too lax about it, especially given the recent legal troubles of some of the team’s own players (Bruce Miller and Ray McDonald, for example). The lawsuit also does not specify a dollar amount for damages, suggesting that both brothers are still receiving medical care for related injuries.
Of course, the 49ers maintain that they were equally appalled by the incident and applaud the Santa Clara Police Department’s response, emphasizing that the safety of all visitors and NFL fans is of the utmost importance. Additionally, city officials have begun to consider restricting alcohol consumption at sporting events.
Is this a case of mislaid blame for the actions of two bad apples, or is it a legitimate lawsuit needed to bring an institutionalized acceptance of violence into check? That’s the difficult question that only Santa Clara County will have the authority to answer, now.