[Updated: 3 p.m., 7-25-18] Florida freshman football player Justin Watkins was booked on four charges Tuesday, including two felony charges, according to Alachua County court records.
Watkins was charged with two misdemeanor counts of battery and two third-degree felonies — false imprisonment of an adult and domestic battery by strangulation, according to court records.
Watkins, 19, remained in the Alachua County jail Wednesday in lieu of a $40,000 bond at the time of publication. He appeared in court Wednesday morning. Ron Kozlowski has not yet been retained as counsel as we previously reported. The Watkins family is still weighing legal options.
UF sports information director Steve McClain said UF coach Dan Mullen has suspended Watkins from all team activities.
A University of Florida Police Department arrest report gives the following account of the crime:
On the late afternoon of July 20, police say Watkins struck his 18-year-old girlfriend with an open and closed fist on both sides of her head and on her shoulders while holding her down on a dorm room bed.
He got on top of her, pinning her to the bed again, the report says, wrapped his hands around her neck and choked her three times, once for 15 seconds and twice for about eight seconds.
Police say Watkins knew that she has asthma.
Police say he confined her to the room by standing in the doorway and blocking the exit.
She said, “I want to leave,” and, “Get out of the way,” the report says. When she tried to leave, he grabbed her hair and belt, yanking her back into the room.
The girlfriend sprayed mace in his face and fled, the report says. He chased her out the door and down the stairs. Police said he threw a wooden brush, hitting her left hand, and a container of hair grease that also struck her hand.
It’s the second time in three months Watkins has found himself charged with a crime involving a female victim.
Watkins was arrested in Ocala in May for allegedly breaking a woman’s phone and kicking her car. The police report indicated Watkins then followed the woman to Vanguard High School, where he was not a student, and continued kicking her car. Watkins was subsequently charged for trespassing on school grounds.
Watkins, a former four-star prospect out of East Ridge High in Clermont, enrolled at Florida in June for the Summer B semester. He was expected to contribute as a cornerback and on special teams.
Mullen said at last week’s SEC Media Days that behavior accountability is something the team talks about every day.
“Every day we talk about decision making — how that decision is going to affect you, how it affects your teammates, how does it affect your family, how does it affect our football program?” Mullen said.
“Stick up and look out for each other as a team. That’s a huge thing. If your actions are not helping us achieve those goals, we need to reevaluate your actions.”