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    Teenager dragged, dies after scuffle

    Matt Brassill, 18, plowed through life. A confrontation between Brassill and a group of men led to his death.

    By AMY WIMMER, Times Staff Writer
    © St. Petersburg Times
    published October 20, 2002


    TAMPA -- Confronted by a 250-pound lineman, 5-foot-7, 160-pound Pinellas Park running back Matt Brassill would rather plow through him than run the ball out of bounds.

    "He wasn't very big," said Luke Kademoff, his former football coach, "but he would not go the easy route at all."

    That spunk might explain why 18-year-old Brassill, following a late-night scuffle between his friends and another group of men in Ybor City, tried to throw one last punch.

    Police say he swung at someone inside the other group's Mercedes-Benz. Someone inside the car grabbed Brassill's arm. The car sped off down Fifth Avenue, dragging him about 60 feet before he was let go.

    Brassill fell to the pavement, where he died from head injuries, police say. His friends held him, called 911 and his mom.

    Not sure what to say, they told her Brassill had been badly beaten.

    "I think they were just in shock," Brassill's mother, Tina Parmentier, said Saturday, "and the first person they thought to call was me."

    Matt Brassill turned 18 six weeks ago. He had a serious girlfriend and a new job, his first, at Best Buy. A fifth-year senior at Pinellas Park High, he couldn't play football for the Patriots this year, but he had his last name tattooed across the top of his back, like a football jersey.

    He was the only boy in his family, the only one to carry on his name, and he told his mother he took the honor seriously.

    "We don't believe in tattoos," Parmentier said, "but we said, "Okay, you're 18."'

    She saw him Friday night as she left the house to take his sister to a Halloween party. "Be safe," she told him.

    Saturday morning, the cars of dozens of family members and friends, many of them Pinellas Park High School students, lined the dead-end street in Pinellas Park where Brassill lived with his mom, stepfather and three younger sisters. The students called him by different nicknames: Matty; Matty B; and "Breezy," because he was a fast runner.

    Two years ago, he scored the winning run to bring a Senior Little League World Series title to Pinellas Park.

    Kademoff, head football coach at Pinellas Park, was defensive coordinator when Brassill played football. He said Brassill, who played running back and free safety, made his job easier because he "was like a coach on the field. He was that knowledgeable."

    Brassill talked about possibly becoming a football coach.

    Police are left with vague descriptions of the men involved in Brassill's death. They are looking for three or four men, probably white. They were driving a late-model Mercedes-Benz -- maybe gold, maybe silver.

    Brassill's friends couldn't describe what the men were wearing.

    "Apparently some hostile words were exchanged," said Joe Durkin, a spokesman for the Tampa Police Department. "We don't know what prompted it."

    Clifford Hall, 19, was with Brassill on Friday night. With three other friends, they went to the Full Moon Saloon, an 18-and-over club. For the first time, Brassill was old enough to get in.

    The run-in with the other group happened as they all walked back to their cars about 3 a.m. Hall thought the dispute was finished until he saw Brassill dangling from the Mercedes window, then falling.

    Hall ran, passed his friend and continued a couple blocks farther, trying to catch up with the Mercedes. When the car turned north on 15th Street, he gave up.

    Breezy was always the fast one.

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