UF football player arrested again; accused of 'barking' at police dog
BY DAVID JONES Florida Today
Published: July 21, 2013
Updated: July 22, 2013 at 06:07 AM
GAINESVILLE - Florida Gators football player Antonio Morrison was arrested late Saturday, accused of "barking" at a police dog and resisting arrest. Although the charge is a misdeneanor, it's Morrison's second arrest. The sophomore from Bolingbrook, Ill., was arrested June 16 on charges of punching a bouncer at a local nightclub. He received deferred prosecution on the simple battery charge, a deal in which he was ordered to stay out of trouble for six months.
Gators coach Will Muschamp quickly announced "at least'' a two-game suspension for Morrison, expected to become the Gators' new starting middle linebacker. State attorney Bill Cervone, who is looking into the matter, says that since the arrest was the second for Morrison in just over a month there's a chance the deferral on his first charge could be revoked.
According to police, Morrison walked up to an open window of a marked patrol vehicle Saturday and "barked" at a K-9 named "Bear.'' The dog immediately started barking back at Morrison, according to police. When an officer attempted to handcuff Morrison he initially resisted, police said.
Morrison told officers the dog made a "woof-woof'' sound at him and he was barking back, police said.
Morrison, 19, charged with resisting arrest without violence and harrassing an on-duty animal. He was released on his own recognizance Sunday morning.
Cervone is uncertain where this second incident could lead, saying, "Based on my initial review ... I am concerned about the legality of the arrest.''
To make an arrest for disturbing a police action there must me some element of malicious interference. The charge of resisting arrest cannot be applied if the initial arrested is ruled unlawful, according to Cervone.
Cervone did add, however, that if Morrison faces charges this time it could be very serious.
"My office will look into this as expeditiously as possible,'' he said. "If there is a crime involved then the previous deferral is subject to revocation.
"If not then that will not likely happen unless there is some other material breech.''
That means Morrison could be looking at possible jail time if the deferral is lifted.
Muschamp, who said earlier he had not decided what penalties Morrison would face as far as any lost playing time after the first offense, released a statement Sunday in which he said: "I'm extremely disappointed in Antonio Morrison's decision making. He has been suspended from the team and will miss at least two games to begin the season.''
Morrison's first legal issues came on June 16 after investigators said he hit a bouncer. His deferral included fines, community service and counseling over a six-month probationary period.