Police investigating Madera High coach for possible battery charges

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The Madera Police Department is looking into possible battery charges against a Madera High School coach. (KFSN)

The Madera Police Department is looking into possible battery charges against a Madera High School coach.

Football practice continued Thursday afternoon at Madera High, without head coach Bonner Cunnings. Action news has learned the coach is accused of hitting a player before practice Monday after the student made an insulting comment about his weight.

Investigators say the confrontation happened inside the field house at the high school. "The allegations center around the varsity football coach allegedly committing a battery on a student," said Commander Dino Lawson, Madera Police Department.

The incident happened Monday and police were notified Wednesday by the student athlete's parent. Detectives say, since then, several players and coaches who witnessed the event have been interviewed. Madera Unified Superintendent Ed Gonzalez said the coach was put on administrative leave after district leaders heard about the allegations. "We are characterizing it as misconduct, and it's an allegation of misconduct."

Late Thursday, an attorney hired by the coach told Action News the incident was more horseplay and quote: "When all the facts are known, it will be clear that what's alleged was innocent and only an accident."

Police said they have attempted to talk with Cunnings but he hasn't been willing to sit down and talk with investigators. "at this time, no, he is not cooperating," said Lawson.

For now, the assistant coaches will be taking over the team, and preparing for the match up Friday against San Joaquin Memorial. "We talked to the kids and so the students all know, the coach is on leave and now their priority is to be ready for Friday night and the assistant coaches will step in and do the great work they've been doing all year," said Gonzalez.

Coach Cunnings did give a statement to the district and is cooperating with school officials. Police said once their report is complete, it will be turned over to the district attorney.
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