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Lawsuit filed by victim in cowbell assault

December 3, 2010

SDN Staff Reports

An incident in which a Mississippi State student was assaulted by another with a cowbell at the 2009 Egg Bowl has prompted a lawsuit in Oktibbeha County Circuit Court.
William Matthew Brasher filed a lawsuit in Circuit Court last month against Brent Morgan Vowell, 24, of Columbus and against the Southeastern Conference in connection with the Nov. 28, 2009, incident during the post-game celebration following MSU’s football win over the University of Mississippi at Davis Wade Stadium.
In the incident, Brasher suffered what MSU police described as a severe head wound after the suspect — identified as Vowell by police — hit him with a cowbell while they were in the north end zone bleachers immediately following the game.
Brasher, whose name has previous not been released by authorities, had some friends from Ole Miss with him in the stands, and, after MSU won the football game, some verbal sparring that occurred with the suspect that turned violent, culminating in the victim being struck with the cowbell, MSU police said after the incident was reported.
Vowell was arrested in mid-February of this year after eluding police for two and a half months. About two weeks prior to his arrest, MSU police detectives released photographs of him in the bleachers at the stadium following the incident. Police have not named the source of the photos, but said several people are believed to have witnessed the assault on Brasher.
Brasher’s lawsuit, filed by two Oxford attorneys, seeks unspecified damages from the SEC and commissioner Mike Slive, alleging that the league knowingly refused to enforce its 1974 rule banning artificial noisemakers at all conference athletic events.
“If the SEC had taken the steps necessary to enforce its rule prohibiting artificial noisemakers, including cowbells, Mr. Brasher would not have been attacked with a cowbell,” Circuit Court documents state.
Brasher’s lawsuit alleges that when Vowell struck him with the cowbell, he was knocked unconscious and suffered a 4-inch laceration that required staples to close the wound. The assault saw Brasher suffer a “concussion, memory loss, mental and emotional distress and anguish, depression, paranoia, anxiety, loss of enjoyment of life and inability to pursue prior educational and professional goals,” court documents state.
MSU is not named as a defendant in the lawsuit, but court documents state that the university has been served with a claim by Brasher and could be added to the suit if the claim is denied. Both MSU and SEC officials have declined comment on the lawsuit.
Vowell is scheduled to face trial in January on the aggravated assault charge in the incident with Brasher. He remains free on a $10,000 bond.
One of Mississippi State’s longest-held spirit symbols, the cowbell has been the topic of much debate in recent months after SEC officials granted Bulldog fans a one-year grace priod to use them at Davis Wade Stadium if rung only during timeouts, following scoring plays and before kickoffs.
SEC officials have already informed the university that fines will be levied for violations of the rule at MSU football games earlier in the season.

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