College football player hits a woman: The case of Joe Mixon

Two and a half years ago, an incoming freshman at the University of Oklahoma went into a popular restaurant/bar on his 18th birthday. Joe Mixon was a very highly recruited running back and was considered by many to be the best in the country at the position. He (now) stands approximately 6’1" and weighs 226 pounds according to the OU athletic department website.

The tldr version: He broke a woman’s face.

The long version: According to Mixon, Amelia Molitor hurled racist insults at Mixon and spat on him. According to Molitor, Mixon called her friend a fag. At any rate, Mixon went over to Molitor’s table where there is a very brief discussion and Molitor pushes Mixon. Mixon makes an aggressive “bowing up” move but backs off slightly. Molitor then slaps Mixon and lands her slap somewhere around Mixon’s neck/face area. Mixon responds with a devastating right hook to Molitor’s face which causes her to hit her head on the table as she falls. You can see the graphic video here. I have tried to describe it as faithfully as I could although I welcome corrections/differences of opinion. Molitor suffered several fractures to her face although I don’t know if they were the direct result of the punch or were caused by her head striking the table. I assume that it doesn’t really matter.

OU President David Boren (a former US Senator and governor of Oklahoma), athletic director Joe Castiglione and head football coach Bob Stoops all watched the video and determined that Mixon’s punishment from the university would consist of a one year suspension from the team. He was not allowed to practice or work out with the team. He had some academic restrictions placed on him as well although I don’t believe that they were made public.

The city of Norman charged Mixon with misdemeanor assault to which he entered an Alford plea. On the advice of his attorneys, Mixon has said very little publicly about the incident. He has apologized to Molitor through his attorneys. Molitor is suing for “negligence, willful and wanton misconduct, and intentional infliction of emotional distress” (from wiki).

The debate (finally):

Were the actions of the University of Oklahoma sufficient?

There is currently a large amount of outrage about the incident because the tape was only released to the public last week. Everyone that has followed the case over the last 2 years had heard that “it was bad”. To be honest, it looked about like I expected it to. He’s a large man and she’s a smallish woman. Given that she had broken bones to her face, I expected it to be a devastating punch. It was.

Much of the outrage comes from a contingent that says that “You never hit women”. Period. To paraphrase Chris Rock, I would NEVER hit a woman but I understand. Just because I would personally choose to never hit a woman doesn’t imply that hitting a woman is NEVER justified. IMHO, Mixon could have and should have walked away after getting slapped but that’s just MHO. I don’t believe that we as a society want to teach women that they get free slaps at men. I don’t want men to slap women either.

Some have argued that Mixon’s punch was disproportionate to the actions of Molitor. IOW, he brought a gun to a knife fight. I disagree. Given that Mixon had no obligation to walk away (although IMHO he should have), the altercation was going to escalate to the same point regardless. It is difficult to watch the video and believe that if Mixon had simply slapped Molitor back (a “proportionate” response), that that would have been the end of it. I believe, although it is obviously unknowable, that Molitor would have continued to escalate the altercation and sooner or later, punches were going to be thrown.

Given the above, I feel that the actions of OU were appropriate. Discuss.

I saw the video and my first question was why wasn’t Amelia Molitor charged with assault. She initiates physical contact. Mixon starts to walk away, she says something, he turns back, she pushes him, he lunges at her without touching her then backs off and she slaps him. He then lays her out.

Sleestaks simple rules on fights. He (or she) who initiates contact is responsible, within reason, for what happens. If you slap a large, strong man expect to be hit back.

Mixon walks away after the punch. Had he continued to wail upon her that would be one thing. However, from watching the video it seems to me that Mixon wasn’t trying to keep the fight going, he wanted to disengage before it even started. Once the threat* was handled, Mixon left.

Should he have hit her? In a perfect world, no. However people react. He reacted after being slapped which is understandable.

Molitor is acting as though she was innocent in this whole thing. She initiated the violence and I hope she doesn’t get a damned thing from the lawsuit.

I think the punishment for Mixon was just about right.


*Some will, I am sure, argue that Molitor wasn’t a threat and that Mixon was bigger/stronger/whatever. Size is irrelevant, whomever initiates violence ought to be responsible for the aftermath.

Molitor was the first to use physical violence.

So the debate becomes, should we be gender-equal or gender-unequal?

Gender-equal: Men and women should be treated no differently when it comes to self-defense, retaliation, etc.
Gender-unequal: Men and women **should **be treated differently when it comes to self-defense, retaliation, etc.

I don’t think it necessarily has anything to do with gender. It is very unlikely she could really harm him; he could easily kill her with a blow from a bare fist. Even though he was struck first, he wasn’t fending for his life. His striking her wasn’t self-defense, it was retaliation.

Mind, it wouldn’t change my thinking if it was a 260-pound female boxer who laid out a 100-pound man.

I believe people have the right to use force that is proportional to the threat they are facing. I do not get to shoot a person because they pushed me. His actions in that video were a sickening degree of escalation. I completely agree with Sicks Ate, this wasn’t self defense, it was retaliation.

If you want to argue that the woman should be punished for starting the fight, okay. I’d fine her $250. I’d probably send him to jail for a year.

While I agree that retaliation should be proportional, I cannot recall a single legal case whereby a judge said, “The defendant could have used 400 pounds of force in his fist swing, but instead reduced it at the last moment to 160 pounds of force, so because of that self-restraint I will reduce his sentence from three years imprisonment to one year.”

So from the perspective of the person doing the retaliation, they may logically think, “I’ll be in jail if I punch hard, and I’ll be in jail if I punch gently, so I might as well just sock this person with all i got.”

I think the thought going through the head of the retaliator is “Fuck you,” not various legal arguments.

I have no idea what that foot-pounds of force quote has to do with anything.

Words and slaps aren’t really relevant. Was she threatening him? Did he respond in self defense? I’d say no and no. He should have left the situation entirely. He was not trapped. But he was 18 and she was taunting him. I don’t agree with “never hit women”, but this wasn’t the time to hit a woman. He was wrong. Understandably wrong, in a way, but wrong.

A football suspension and a misdemeanor on his record sound about right. Not sure on the lawsuit, but that’s not your main question. I can see paying for her medical care and attorney’s bills. Anything above that will depend on his level of wealth and perceived maliciousness, and I’m pretty sure a jury and judge will take all that into account at trial.

I also don’t agree that he had no obligation to walk away. Maybe not explicitly, but he did have an obligation not to physically harm another person. And when people are taunting you into doing just that, the way to prevent being overwhelmed to the point of violence is to walk away. Not a legal obligation, perhaps, but definitely a moral obligation, and a legal one too if that’s the only way to prevent yourself from becoming violent.

What I meant was - using proportional force and disproportional force will both get the same legal penalty, so, at least from a legal perspective, there is no incentive to show restraint in retaliation.

(Well, to a certain extent, I’m sure that if someone committed murder in retaliation to a simple fist punch that would be quite another thing, IANAL, a lawyer can correct me if I’m wrong.)

He did use proportional force. She initiated violence, he punched her once hard enough to stop her attack and left. He didn’t shoot anyone. He didn’t keep beating the woman after he hit her. She pushed and slapped him, he hit her and stopped her attack and then left.

The only way I would accept your argument would be if it was shown that he had advanced self-defense training. Most folks, when they are provoked into throwing a punch just throw a punch. Without training, most folks aren’t going to know a) to think about how hard to throw the punch and b) have the skill to actually do it. And, from the video, it appears that Mixon didn’t even put a lot into it. He didn’t pull back for a haymaker.


Legal and right can be two different things. He was exhibiting threatening behavior and he was definitely able to realistically act upon that threat. If he would have stepped up on a police officer and did what he did to the woman and man he’d likely have been arrested.

Iirc, he spat on her before the slap. Spitting on someone has been considered assault. Anyways I think he was wrong.

I watched the video. I never saw a compelling reason for him to approach their table in the first place. Depending on what was said, I could understand him being angry. She shoved and slapped him, and he could have easily given her a shove right back instead of hitting her. He, of course, could have walked away, too.
Also, that he split immediately after decking her was totally uncool.

Actually, the reports were that Molitor spit on Mixon. As well as using racial insults. No idea of either of those are true.

Interestingly, there was a motion to suppress the release of the video. What is interesting about it is that Molitor was the one wanting the video to be suppressed while Mixon wanted it released.


I’m not a lawyer, but I think you’re wrong here. Or maybe you’re correct but in a misleading way. You can respond with whatever force it takes to stop the threat. If someone is slapping you, you can grab their wrist and make them stop. If someone is hunting you down with a rifle, you can shoot them with your handgun or stab them with your sword, even if they haven’t yet fired a shot.

But if someone is slapping you, you can’t stab them with your sword. So proportionality counts, in a sense. Sure, stabbing the perp stopped the threat, but all they were doing was slapping you, so, you’re still on the hook for attempted murder.

In the case of the OP, Joe could have stopped the “threat” by simply leaving. Or, if he would have held her wrists so she couldn’t continue slapping him, he probably would have been fine legally, even if he could have left the area instead. The problem is that he wasn’t acting in self defense in stopping a threat, he was acting, as you said, in retaliation. And retaliation isn’t legally justified. So you’re right that slapping her and punching her were equally illegal. The difference is that the damages she can claim in her lawsuit are now far higher than they would be had he just returned her slap.

You can have one or the other but you can’t have both. Attitudes that men should never hit women - or even the lesser but still protective attitudes expressed by posters in this thread - are what encourages women to attack bigger and stronger men, and what create situations like the one here.

When a woman does that, she’s banking on the societal attitude to ensure that the guy probably won’t fight back or if he does that it will be mild.

IMHO, this woman had it coming, and if other aggressive women think that’s a possible outcome of assaulting people it’s a good thing.

This must be something that is happening more frequently than I hear about. I didn’t realize the scope of the issue.

It is possible, but far from certain that he could have held her hands or wrists to stop the slapping. From the anger that I saw in the video, I believe that holding her probably would have led to even more aggressive actions on her part such as biting or kicking. Your sword analogy is an extreme false equivalence.

On the other hand, he’s a football player at a major university. He takes much bigger hits than that during warmups. Whether or not that should be taken into consideration, I don’t know.

Hard to know how often, but it happens. Here’s a current story as an example.

But the point is that smaller men very rarely if ever attack bigger college-football player types. Women do, and what emboldens them is the societal attitude that they can’t be harmed even in such situations.

Irrespective of what we think either party should be charged with, OU presumably has a “morals clause”-like policy when it comes to students and student-athletes. Presuming they acted within the bounds of this policy, then I find their punishment appropriate. Fair or not (probably unfair), as a student and especially as a student-athlete in a high-profile sport, he is a representative of the school. His decisions represented the school poorly by assaulting someone when it was not self-defense (he was never in any danger; she might as well have been assaulting a brick wall).

On a personal note, I don’t condone hitting anyone unless necessary. His assault wasn’t necessary. This especially applies to women for me because chivalry (chauvinism be damned).

Can we talk about this idea that a young woman is incapable of inflicting harm to a young man? Because it’s nonsense. Eyes can be scratched and gouged, the trachea crushed, nose broken, and ears torn off, with a level of physical force any young woman is capable of applying. Further, anytime someone shoves and/or batters you, you risk falling and fracturing your skull, like poor Bryan Stow (the paramedic who was attacked at the Dodgers game a few years back).

Letting someone - anyone - strike you about the face is a horrible, horrible idea.