A 22-year-old white man was arrested and charged with aggravated assault for allegedly attacking a Black man at a Memphis golf course.
The affray reportedly was set in motion after the victim hit his golf ball toward the wrong hole.
Wesley Caldwell of Nesbit, Mississippi, wound up in the custody of the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office after witnesses reported he struck Mark Coleman in the left side of his head with a golf club on Saturday, Dec. 3. Caldwell and the victim were both golfing at The Links at Whitehaven, according to Golf Digest.
A police report describes how the white Mississippian became enraged after the other player’s errant shot sent his ball toward the wrong hole. Coleman and another player in his group walked over to get the rogue ball but were met with fury from Caldwell.
Caldwell picked up the misplaced ball and tossed it in the opposite direction, ABC 24 reports.
The Memphis Commercial Appeal reported Coleman’s companion told authorities that before Coleman could overcome his shock, Caldwell hit him with a golf club and knocked him to the ground. Coleman tried to get up but became dizzy and stumbled. He subsequently was airlifted to a hospital, where he had emergency surgery for a fractured skull and bleeding in the brain. By Friday, Dec. 16, Coleman was still hospitalized, and on a ventilator, the Commercial Appeal reported.
Caldwell has been charged with aggravated assault and was released from jail on a $5,000 bond. His father told WREG News Channel 3 “there’s more to the story and his son will have his day in court.”
The Memphis NAACP has taken an interest in the case, according to the Daily Mail, and is questioning the low bond.
“Well, there’s been an aggravated assault. There’s been a threat against a witness in his past, there’s been a couple of reckless driving charges [and a] DUI, and so he’s young, but he’s had instances where he’s acted violently in the past,” said former Shelby County Commissioner Van Turner, the president of the civil rights group’s local branch.
Members of Coleman’s family also took issue with the bond being set so low.
“It’s very unacceptable,’ Coleman’s brother Stephon said, while his stepfather, Willie Walker, pushed even harder.
Walker asked, “Why is it a $5,000 bond for the damage he’s done to my stepson.”
Many on social media are asking similar questions.
“Wesley Caldwell golfer hit Mark Coleman in his head with golf club has criminal record & his Bond was set @ only $5,000 & you’re released from Jail Where in this country are you arrested for another violent crime & your previous violent criminal history isn’t investigated?” one person tweeted.
The NAACP Memphis Branch first offered its prayers before calling for the charges to be upgraded to attempted murder.
The organization released a statement on its position, saying, “While golfing, Mark had a dispute with Wesley Caldwell. Instead of walking away like Mark was attempting to do, Caldwell struck Mark in the head with a golf club causing Mark significant brain injuries. Caldwell is to be arraigned today and there is a call in the community for Caldwell’s charges to be upgraded from aggravated assault to attempted murder which should be heard and supported.”
“Mr. Coleman has been a fixture in Memphis civic life for some time,” it continued. “While we continue to pray for Mark, we will also continue to demand justice for Mark and for all of those impacted by violence in our community.”
The community is joining the NAACP’s call.
Caldwell is preparing to stand before the judge in court on Tuesday, Jan. 17.