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Quick Hits From Whistleblower’s Suppressed 2014 Statement to UC Berkeley Campus Police on the Football Strength and Conditioning Program That Killed Ted Agu
September 7, 2016

“eBook Bonus: Introduction to ‘Ted Agu Papers,’ Cal Football Death Cover-Up,”

“Table of Contents of the New eBook ‘TED AGU PAPERS,”

Amazon Kindle link:

by Irvin Muchnick


A month after the death of Ted Agu in a brutal early-morning conditioning competition, the whistleblower player who made recorded statements to the University of California-Berkeley campus police included allegations both far more specific and far more wide-ranging than were previously known, a transcript acquired today by Concussion Inc. shows.

In a story later today, we will have a fuller summary of  the main points of backup quarterback Joey Mahalic’s March 19, 2014, interview by Detective Harry Bennigson and another campus police detective (whose name I’m withholding for now until I determine whether this person is still on the force).

Tomorrow we will break up the interview into full-text topics and publish a facsimile of the entire document, after first blacking out the telephone number Mahalic gave police.

In the interview, Mahalic went into great detail, and reemphasized several times, his perception of the circumstances of the November 1, 2013, criminal assault by player J.D. Hinnant against teammate Fabiano Hale — an incident incited by strength and conditioning coach Damon Harrington, and seen as an illustration of the extreme coaching methods that led to Agu’s death, if not a direct precursor of it. The vigilante attack by Hinnant did not come out of nowhere, and Harrington’s refrain that the team needed to maintain internal accountability “by any means necessary” — accompanied by a fist pounding into an open hand — made a strong impression on members of the non-traveling squad who were subject to the coach’s punishment workouts.

But Mahalic also enumerated lies Harrington told players the day Agu was stricken. In addition, Mahalic discussed with the cops the possibility of the unsupervised use by players — on the day of the fatal February 9, 2014, drill and ongoing — of creatine and other borderline performance-enhancing drugs.

As he did in his deposition in the Agu family’s civil lawsuit against UC — published in full in the new ebook THE TED AGU PAPERS — Mahalic discussed agonizing for months over whether to officially complain about Harrington’s excesses, before finally coming forward after Agu’s death and being directed to the campus police by university administrators, including then-vice chancellor John Wilton.

Our publication of the Mahalic police interview raises several important related questions:


* This 40-page document was not among the more than 100 pages of records suppressed by Cal during the investigation of Agu’s death by the Alameda county sheriff’s office, on behalf of the county coroner; however, the police report summarizing the interview was one of those suppressed documents. The coroner at the time, Dr. Thomas Beaver, would testify during the civil lawsuit that the team physician at the time, Dr. Casey Batten, lobbied for a snap finding of heart failure in Agu’s death and did not reveal the existence of the dead player’s sickle cell trait condition or the fact that his multiple collapses during the fatal drill indicated the role of sickle cell — and of the coaching and training staff’s inattention to it. (The county later amended the finding of cause of death to include sickle cell, and the university settled with the family for $4.75 million.)

In full context, what does the Alameda County district attorney have to say about this new information? Was obstruction of justice committed by Cal officials in not forwarding the Mahalic interview and other documents to the sheriff and/or the D.A.?


* This reporter is contemplating state court action under the California Public Records Act (CPRA) in an attempt to compel release of what is believed to be the UC Police Department’s four-page summary and report of Mahalic’s statement. Now that the raw statements are public, this additional document would help answer the question of exactly how the university and its police processed them.

Do these new circumstances improve our prospects for prevailing on the courts to rule that there are compelling reasons here to override the usual CPRA exemption for law enforcement agency records?


* The San Francisco Chronicle reported this summer that it had acquired Mahalic’s statement.

Is this the same document Concussion Inc. is now publishing? If so, why has the newspaper’s own coverage censored the extent of what the whistleblower is known to have told campus cops?

“Explainer: How ‘Insider’ Access Made San Francisco Chronicle and Berkeley J-School Miss Real Story Behind Death of Cal Football’s Ted Agu,”

Complete headline links to our Ted Agu series:

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Concussion Inc. - Author Irvin Muchnick