Soccer referee assaulted by teen during game has died

SALT LAKE CITY – The referee who was in a coma after he was assaulted by a 17-year-old soccer player during a game on April 27 died Saturday night.

According to a press release from the Unified Police Department, Ricardo Portillo passed away at 9:33 p.m. at the Intermountain Medical Center.

Portillo suffered serious internal head injuries on April 27 after he gave a yellow card to a 17-year-old player, who then punched him once. The teen was arrested on April 29 and booked into the Salt Lake Valley Detention Center on the charge of aggravated assault.

Additional charges may be screened against the teen in light of Portillo’s death. Because the suspect is 17, it is possible he could be tried as an adult. A former assistant district attorney shared his thoughts on the possible charges the teen could face.

The Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office said they will be reviewing the case on Monday.

Those who knew Portillo said he was kind and always fair, and many of them said they considered him part of their family. During a press conference held Sunday, Portillo’s family described him as a man who was passionate about his job and who loved the game of soccer.

Johana Portillo, one of Ricardo’s three daughters, said she wants justice for her father’s death.

“I just don’t think it’s fair for this person to come and make a decision that, he didn’t even think he was going to affect all this family,” she said. “I don’t know, I just want justice for my Dad. I want justice for my Dad, and we’re going to get it.”

Family and friends held a vigil on Sunday night, where those who knew him best spoke about their memories and expressed their love.

“He was a father, he was a friend, he was a grandfather,” Johana Portillo said. “He left a whole family. It’s not just us. It’s our whole family.”

Related stories:

Soccer league brings police presence to games after referee attacked

Soccer referee’s family asks for prayers, seeks justice

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