Gilbert family wants answers after alleged ongoing discrimination leads to assault

A senior on the Gilbert High School football team says he was knocked out by a teammate and has received racist treatment.
Published: Sep. 15, 2022 at 10:10 PM MST
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GILBERT, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -- A Gilbert family is looking for answers after a senior student and football player claims months of discrimination ended with him being assaulted earlier this week. Gilbert Police and the Gilbert Public School District are investigating.

Deion Smith is a senior on the Gilbert High School football team. He spent Thursday getting dental work done on a tooth he says was knocked out by a teammate. “He had hit me in my jaw, and caused my tooth to fall out,” Smith said. “So then I’m noticing, I’m bleeding, I’m leaking.”

Smith says he quickly became outnumbered in a physical altercation with his Gilbert Tigers teammates. But he says it’s what happened next with his head coach Derek Zellner that’s led him to not plan on returning to the Tigers or in general, Gilbert High School.

“I said ‘no I’m not ok, look at my tooth,’” Smith said. “And he just patted me on my shoulder and said to just keep it in the locker room. That everything is going to be ok.”

Deion’s mom April Miles says this is the latest example of months of hostile, even racist treatment towards her son, including multiple verbal abuse instances. “The lack of consideration for human life, not just a black human life, but a human being, the lack of consideration is phenomenal at this school,” she said.

Miles says she’s contacted the Gilbert School District and Gilbert Police about what happened. But so far, no actions have been taken. A district spokesperson tells Arizona’s Family that as soon as they were informed of these allegations, the Gilbert High School administration and the Gilbert Police Department began an investigation that is currently ongoing.

As for what Miles wants moving forward? “I want Coach Z fired,” she said. “I don’t want him to be able to neglect another child in the way that he’s neglected mine.”