A high school wrestler captured on video tackling an opposing team’s coach to the ground after a 2019 match must appear in a Safford courtroom next month on charges of aggravated assault and disorderly conduct.
Michael Shane Buda Jr. has been cited for one felony and one misdemeanor stemming from a Feb. 2, 2019 incident during a wrestling tournament at Safford High School. He was a student-athlete for Canyon Del Oro (CDO) High School in Oro Valley at the time.
Buda, 19, is currently out of custody on a $1,000 appearance bond pending resolution of his case. He has been ordered to appear at the Safford Justice Court for a Sept. 16 preliminary hearing on whether there is probable cause to move the case forward to trial.
Justice of the Peace Gary Griffith will make that ruling after hearing testimony and evidence put forth by Graham County Attorney Kenny Angle. Among the evidence is video taken during a match between Buda, who was 18 at the time, and a Salpointe Catholic High School wrestler.
Buda was disqualified during the match. He reportedly swore at the referee and had to be calmed by CDO coaches.
In the meantime, his father, Michael Buda Sr., crossed onto the restricted wrestling area and had to be physically restrained by other coaches. At about the same time, Buda runs at a Salpointe assistant coach and tackles him to the ground.
Several coaches and players were involved in stopping the attack and removing the father and son from the tournament. No one was seriously injured.
The Budas were later questioned by Safford police, who instructed the two to stay away from the tournament. Buda Sr. also came under investigation after several non-emergency calls were made to the 911 system.
Safford officers referred their investigation to the county attorney’s office in March 2019 with a recommendation for several charges. Public records show Buda Sr. has not been charged in connection with the incident, but his son was cited in October 2019 for aggravated assault of a school employee and disorderly conduct by fighting.
It is unclear why it took so long for Angle’s office to move forward with criminal prosecution after receiving the Safford PD report.
A summons issued to the teen via certified mail for a December 2019 initial appearance was returned unclaimed. An arrest warrant was then issued in February, although it was quashed by a judge last month after Buda posted the $1,000 bond.
Buda faces up to two years in state prison if convicted of felony aggravated assault and up to six months in the Graham County jail if found guilty of misdemeanor disorderly conduct. However, the teen is most likely be placed on probation or allowed to enter a diversion program for first-time offenders.