Once Murray State guard Zay Jackson entered a guilty plea Friday to charges of wanton endangerment and began serving a 30-day jail sentence, police released surveillance footage of the September incident in a Walmart parking lot that led to his arrest.
To say the least, the disturbing video doesn't portray Jackson in a flattering light.
When Jason and Alia Clement briefly confront Jackson after he pushed his shopping cart into a parked car, the Murray State guard pulls up alongside the couple to continue the argument as they're loading their own groceries into their vehicle. Jason Clement then goes behind Jackson's car to snap a photo of his rear license plate, leading the Murray State sophomore to behave in a matter that's completely indefensible no matter what words were exchanged between the two parties.
He backs up several times to nudge Jason with his rear bumper. He puts his car in reverse so he's now facing both the Clements. And he plows his car straight into them, even driving a few hundred feet and speeding up with Jason still clinging to his hood before breaking to send Jason sprawling to the asphalt.
It's hard to believe Jackson's actions haven't led to Murray State dismissing him from the team, but the Racers continue to remain loyal to the promising guard. Although the school has suspended Jackson indefinitely, athletic director Allen Ward said in a statement released to the Murray Ledger that Jackson is "still a very big part of the program" and will likely return to the team sometime this season.
"He made a mistake, he's taken responsibility for that mistake, he's been accountable for it, and we're going to do everything we can to help him through this and let him know that he has the support of the Murray State program," Ward said.
"He's got some tough days ahead of him. It hasn't been easy on him, these last couple of months, not being a part of the team activities, but we will continue to work through those times and we'll be there for Zay, and he's going to be a very big part of this program, and he will be part of the team this year."
Why would Murray State be reluctant to cut ties with Jackson? Maybe he has otherwise been a good citizen, but part of it also surely is related to the potential he flashed in limited minutes as a freshman. He scored 4.9 points, dished out 2.3 assists and played pesky defense for a veteran-laden Murray State team that finished 31-2 and advanced to the Round of 32 in the NCAA tournament.
With starters Jewaun Long and Donte Poole having graduated, Murray State needs perimeter players to complement All-American Isaiah Canaan. Coach Steve Prohm envisioned Jackson as a potential backcourt threat alongside Canaan prior to his arrest, but Murray State should be careful now with the message it's sending.
If Jackson serves his prison sentence, sits out all of this season and behaves as the most perfect of citizens, maybe that's sufficient to reinstate him to the team for the 2013-14 season. But if Jackson serves his jail sentence and returns to Murray State soon afterward, that's too lenient a penalty for someone who showed such disgusting disregard for human life just a few months earlier.