Durham hit Florida fan during UT football game

Former state Rep. Jeremy Durham hit a University of Florida fan in the face during the University of Tennessee’s football game Saturday and was escorted out of Neyland Stadium by a law enforcement officer, reports The Tennessean.

Several witnesses confirmed an officer approached Durham and asked him to leave. The recently expelled lawmaker complied and was escorted out of the stands by a Blount County sheriff’s deputy.

Photos and video obtained by The Tennessean verify that Durham was approached by the deputy and others after the hitting incident.

When initially approached by event staff, Durham said, “Did you see what he did? He pushed me. And I pushed his sunglasses off.”

A Tennessee fan who saw what happened said Durham was sitting with his wife and state Sen. Brian Kelsey, a longtime friend of Durham’s. The Tennessee fan said a particularly boisterous Florida fan was yelling loudly, and at one point Durham responded to the yells. The Florida fan started yelling at Durham. Once the Florida fan yelled at Durham, the Tennessee fan said Durham turned around and hit the man in the face.

“As he hit the guy’s face, almost slapped at his face, he caused the guy’s glasses to fly off his face. (The glasses) probably went 10 to 12 people down the aisle and one row in front,” said the fan, who requested anonymity for fear of retaliation.

…David Williams, son of former Tennessee House Speaker Kent Williams, who was seated three rows behind the Florida fan and four rows behind Durham, said, “I saw Mr. Durham turn around and basically smack the guy in the face and it knocked the sun glasses off his head.”

Saturday’s incident is not the first time Durham has interacted with authorities in Knoxville, according to police records obtained by The Tennessean.

In 2003 — when Durham was an undergraduate student at the University of Tennessee Knoxville — he was arrested on aggravated burglary, vandalism and theft charges. When being questioned by police, Durham — who had a spots of blood on his clothing and on the steering wheel of his car after breaking a window to gain access to a house — admitted to forcing his way into the building and stealing two guitars, a guitar case and a compact disc case.

In a letter Durham sent to a judge in an unrelated case, Durham called the incident a “grave error in judgment” that resulted in a “potential criminal proceeding.”

On two separate occasions — once in 2002 and another in 2004 — Durham was cited for underage alcohol consumption.