MISSOULA — The police investigation into the incident that resulted in the arrest of Montana starting safety Justin Strong in Pullman, Washington, in October is nearing completion. Police foresee handing the investigation over to Whitman County prosecutor Denis Tracy next week.
"Right now it looks like we just have Mr. Strong as a good suspect in our case," said Pullman Police Detective Sgt. Jake Opgenorth. "Based on witness testimony, I don't feel at this point there's probable cause on any one other person."
Strong was arrested for second-degree assault on Oct. 21, a Saturday, 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 that Monday morning. Second-degree assault is a felony in Washington state.
According to Opgenorth, police have one interview left to conduct next week.
"I would hope by the end of next week we'll be done with this investigation and be able to forward it to the prosecutor," Opgenorth said in a phone call Tuesday morning.
Once the police investigation is concluded, Tracy, the Whitman County attorney, will decide whether to file charges against Strong, or anyone else.
According to previous reports from Pullman police chief Gary Jenkins, two other unnamed Montana football players were with Strong during the incident, but Opgenorth said there isn't probable cause to charge anyone other than Strong.
Strong 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 Washington State University senior, who goes by "Wyatt," competes in hammer throws for the Cougars track team, according to the school's athletics website.
Meyring suffered a fractured skull and a hematoma and was flown out of Pullman to Spokane. He was released from the hospital the following week.
Strong was suspended for two games after the incident. He also missed the first game of the season due to a broken thumb.
He tied for the lead in interceptions on the team and finished ninth on the team in tackles with 41 takedowns. He also had 2 1/2 tackles for loss, four passes defended and a pass breakup.