Updated: UF players, local men had fight, ongoing conflict

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Image from UPD video
This still image from a cellphone video shows two men - believed to be Florida football players - with weapons at Flavet Field on May 28. UF police say the guns were airsoft rifles. [Video courtesy of UPD]

By Daniel Smithson | Staff writer

[Updated: 5:35 p.m., 7-31-18] An incident report released today by the Gainesville Police Department shows an ongoing conflict between University of Florida football players and a local group of men that may have led to a late May confrontation involving Airsoft guns.

The incident report, filed by Cpl. M.J. Brown, said tensions between between Devante Zachery, a 21-year-old gambler known as “Tay Bang,” and several Florida football players could have started after a February bar fight.

In the report, Zachery alleges a string of incidents between him and his friends and the football players.

Florida said it was aware of the situation.

“We understand GPD has followed up last week’s UPD report with a background report that has Devante Zachery as its primary source,” UF spokesman Steve McClain said. “We are not aware if there will be any additional information provided by GPD on this matter. Anytime we get information involving our student athletes we look into it.”

The following incidents are detailed in Brown’s incident report and rely heavily on Zachery’s account and police encounters:

Feb. 10: Zachery told police he and his friends got into a playful argument inside Rain nightclub with UF football players Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, Tyrie Cleveland and C’yontai Lewis.

Zachery told police the argument was about guns.

Feb. 17: Brown wrote in her report that, while on duty during “Florida Invitational Step Show” weekend downtown, she noticed a large group exiting the club. She noted there was a lot of pushing and shoving. A bar security manager confirmed there had been a fight between UF football players and local men from Gainesville.

Zachery told police the football players jumped his friend Keion Jenkins inside the nightclub, which escalated tensions between the two groups.

Feb. 25: Brown was on duty at the T.B. McPherson recreation park. She said in her report that she observed eight to 10 men wearing Gators colors at the park. Brown states in the report that the group was loud, agitated and “walking very aggressive(ly).”

Some of their conversation included words like, “Where they at?” the report says.

Brown wrote in her report that she remembered the bar fight earlier in February and told the football players to leave the situation alone.

She stated that it wasn’t a smart idea for them to “load up the football players” and go to a neighborhood with the intention to fight. It’s unclear from the report whether the football players told police it had been their intention to come there and fight.

The report says the football players agreed, asked to take pictures with police and left the area.

After reviewing photos, Brown said the players included Cleveland, Malik Davis, and Kadarius Toney.

May 28: Zachery told Brown the next incident between the football players and the group came on Memorial Day.

A UF Police report states that, on the night of May 28, Zachery and his friends waited for Lewis and several UF football players — including freshman quarterback Emory Jones, wide receivers Rick Wells, Toney and Cleveland, defensive tackle Kyree Campbell and tight end Kemore Gamble — at the Keys Residential Complex.

Upon seeing Zachery, the football players left the scene but returned soon after, holding what Zachery described as “some sort of assault rifle,” noting others were holding rocks and, in one case, a frying pan.

A UF player later told police that a member of Zachery’s group held a baseball bat and threatened he would “spray” the players if they came any closer.

The “assault rifle” turned out to be an Airsoft gun, police say, but Zachery insisted in Brown’s report that it was an AR-15, carried by Toney.

Zachery told police that, prior to the conflict, he would give some UF players discounts on rental cars at Enterprise, his former place of employment.

If the players did receive rental car discounts unavailable to others, it could be a potential NCAA violation under the category of impermissible benefits.

According to the NCAA, “an extra benefit is defined as a special arrangement by an institutional employee or booster to provide a student-athlete or a student-athlete’s relatives or friends a benefit not authorized by the NCAA.”

The bylaw also states that under most circumstances, “enrolled student-athletes cannot receive goods or services based on their status as athletes. And they cannot receive goods, services and special discounts not available to others.”

The NCAA will not comment on specific cases.

An NCAA spokesman told The Sun that if a school learns about a potential violation, its compliance staff will investigate to determine if a violation has occurred, then turn the findings over to the NCAA.

Because Zachery is not a UF employee or booster, it appears that for it to be determined a violation, there would have to be proof that the discounts were given to the players only because they were football players, and that similar discounts were not available to others.

July 4: Zachery alleged in Brown’s report that in the area near Rain nightclub Cleveland was knocked out that day by one of Zachery’s friends. Zachery would not tell police the friend’s name.

He told police that Cleveland was “knocked out badly,” but didn’t know if Cleveland required medical attention.

In a recent interview with police, Zachery said he just wanted the “beef” to be over with, saying he’s been receiving threatening phone calls.

The report says that current and former football players have been calling him. For example, Zachery alleges former UF player and current New England Patriot cornerback Duke Dawson contacted him, asking if he could buy marijuana.

He also said a friend of UF defensive player Luke Ancrum has been calling to threaten him, according to the report.

It is unclear as of Tuesday afternoon if the football players connected to these incidents will be disciplined by the university or the football team. None were charged with a crime.

UPD recommended six players attend UF’s Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution department.

State Attorney Bill Cervone said Tuesday that he has talked with UPD and GPD several times since May to discuss the incidents. He said he doesn’t anticipate any charges being filed or pushing to have charges filed.

A separate GPD report

A separate incident report from July 22 states that Toney and defensive back Brian Edwards were stopped by police for a seat belt violation. Initially, Toney drove away after he was told to stop, police say.

The report said police found a black rifle lying across the back seat of the vehicle. GPD department spokesperson Ben Tobias confirmed it was an AR-15.

Toney told police he bought the rifle and had it with him “for protection because of the locals.”

Police say in the report that Toney and Edwards were placed in handcuffs for the officers’ safety. Both UF football players were released at the scene after officers found they had no criminal history. Tobias declined to comment on the report.

State Attorney Bill Cervone said Tuesday he doesn’t anticipate any charges being filed or pushing to have charges filed on Toney based on GPD’s provided information.

Gainesville Sun sports writer Graham Hall and Robbie Andreu contributed to this report.

 

50 COMMENTS

  1. Sounds to me like someone trying to disparage UF players. Not that they are angels or perfect, but Zachery’s testimony (he swears AR-15 vs Airsoft, confirmed by police) shows his words cannot be trusted. What is the crime exactly here? Someone legally owning a rifle? Someone potentially defending themselves? Just being a football player does not relinquish one’s right to defend their safety. Not to mention he is a known gambler and trouble maker. How about a restraining order against any current member of UF’s football team? Now for the players’ part, I will admit it sounds like they need to make better decisions on who to ‘hang out’ with. Coach can help with that I am sure!

    • Yeah I’m calling BS on a lot of what this idiot is saying. He’s trying to claim to the cops that he just wanted the beef to end? If that were the case, then why does he and his crew continue to show up to clubs and places they know these players are going to be? Why is Cleveland getting knocked out cold, I’m assuming by being sucker punched if he was as out cold as this guy is claiming? The biggest question mark being why are they showing up on campus uninvited where they know these players live? Truth be told if you’re trying to avoid a beef then you should probably stay away, but instead they seem to be the ones showing up everywhere and inciting everything. Florida is a stand your ground law state and the fact of the matter is if these guys continue to show up and makes threats, especially after already physically assaulting Cleveland, then the threat of bodily harm is prevalent and these players have every right to defend themselves.

      • Good points, Joe, but, bigger picture, the nonsense on the video does not belong at the University of Florida. Parents such as myself are assisting our high school kids in choosing a college to attend for the next 4 or more years. We don’t need the ghetto in the middle of UF relocated in by our football players.

        • What about the video makes you think that Football players are relocating the “ghetto” to the UF Campus?

          If you are referring to fighting and talking smack… then your precious little girl shouldn’t attend college because young men (and women) fight at EVERY single college in America. Especially the college athletes and Frat guys. How do I know? I was a college athlete and in a Fraternity.

          If you are referring to a group of Black men acting crazy… then you’re out of luck again because groups of young Black men and White men and Latino men and Indian men and Native American men and Muslims, etc. hang out at EVERY college campus and act crazy OCCASIONALLY.

          If you are specifically referring to a group of Black men acting crazy and talking smack and fighting as “ghetto” because you were privileged enough to not live in an economically depressed part of town… Then, you are a racist and your daughter is sheltered and she shouldn’t go to a State school… She needs to attend an expensive private school where she will remain insulated from the REAL WORLD and those “ghetto” minorities can’t get her (until she graduates!!).

      • Mullen should close all off campus activity off for all players, any violators suspended, and if caught again kicked off the team indefinitely. Its getting ridiculous, an adult needs to take control, obviously the players can’t.

      • Oh, we are supposed to believe this paragon of virtue, this thug gambler? What’s with the GPD not interviewing football players involved, sounds like the report is a lot one sided. This whole thing is a nothing burger and I see Gatorsports isnt missing an opportunity to dwell on it!

  2. If GPD was aware of this back in February why didn’t they alert UF and the football program so this didn’t escalate?

    While this is only one side of the story, one has to wonder when will it ever end for this football program?

  3. Because a guy named “Tay Bang” is always a credible source. ~roll eyes~

    Been hearing all this discount for rental cars stuff going around too, but I heard that UF Compliance investigated this “gambler” soon afterwards. UF would have self-reported any players who might have violated NCAA rules. These violations, IF they occurred (which I personally highly doubt considering the GPD has stated they don’t believe much of what “Tay Bang” has claimed), would only be secondary violations and the NCAA would drop it if the players paid back the discounts.

    As for Rick Wells, he should be dismissed. This is the second pre-season incident he’s been involved in and personally, he should be gone. He’s always in the center of the trouble when it happens.

    Since this discount story can’t seem to find any traction in the media except on message boards, I’m not putting a lot of stock in it.

  4. I agree. Wells should be gone today. He is trouble, repeating trouble. Never learns and corrects. More trouble coming, likely, from him. Maybe even Cleveland as well, as he and Wells are very close friends. If you can’t learn from your mistakes, and that seems to be the case with both Wells and Cleveland, be gone from UF. The sooner the better, I believe. And why does Toney feel he has to carry a gun in his car for protection? Just stay away and avoid hanging out with bad people. I go to Gainesville a lot. I never feel like I need a gun in my car for protection there. But then again, I do not hang out late at night in Gainesville bars, look for fights in bars and on the UF campus, carry real or fake guns, or hang out and associate with gamblers and thugs who are looking for trouble.

    • It’s the renagade mentality, if I were I would ask what’s them what’s more important to you, fighting with a knuckle head or the football program, it’s hurting the team. If they say football the next avoidable incident that happens they can find somewhere else to play

  5. It’s sad, as a born and raised ”local” myself, that these particular U.F. athletes associate ”locals” with ”fear” and a ”need for self-defense.” Again, it was their choices, as they choose ”the locals” they hung out with, and now they’re suffering the consequences for that bad decision making. Here’s a tip: when their ”street name” ends with ”Bang”, heads-up!

  6. You will never see a lion fighting an ant because the ant isn’t worth the lion’s time and energy. UF players are lions and Zachary is an ant, scrounging around looking to get attention by latching onto people who are so superior to him that he is consumed with hatred and jealousy.

    Players, please realize that the universe will take care of Zachary. The toilet of justice will eventually flush, and he will swirl to his doom unless he smartens up and turns his life around. Also, Zachary, please get a better nickname. “Tay Bang” makes you sound like a Vanilla Ice wanna be.

  7. Thought for the day: Almost all problems can be solved with either a carrot (money or something of value) or a stick (accountability or punishment). How would each individual want a problem solved if it doesn’t affect him directly? What if it affects him directly?

  8. I think Dooley’s analogy of Florida becoming Tennessee, as far as the football program is concerned, is now quite accurate. I understand the mantra of “boys will be boys,” but let’s not forget that these “boys” are now men. They’re not on the playground anymore. Everything they do will come to light nowadays. Running around at night with air soft guns, rocks, and frying pans is not the way to conduct yourself. Want to go out to nightclubs, fine. Want to go out and party, that’s fine, too. But you have to be responsible and behave in a manner that does not disparage you or the Football Program you represent! They need to understand that actions have consequences. But then again, you might run out of football players. This whole program needs a major overhaul.

  9. is it three off-seasons in a row now where we are making headlines for all the wrong reasons??? We have growing programs in the East (South Carolina, Mizzou) and a growing monster in UGA…. and here we sit, playing army in parking lots with who knows…. this is getting OLD ….

    • You got that right, Dave. Last year, UGA signed 10 of the top 51 players in the nation, while we got ZERO. This year UGA has 11 guys in the top 200, we have ZERO. I don’t think a single UF commit would be accepted into UGA’s class. We are getting absolutely throttled by our main SEC rival and I don’t see it ending anytime soon. We’re turning into Tennessee right before our eyes!

    • Don’t think that this stuff doesn’t go on at other campuses. It’s just that we don’t hear about them here, or they are taken care of quickly and quietly. Believe me, Nick Saban has a firm grasp on that program, and even though I am sure he has quite a few players with major character flaws, they either don’t dare to cross the line, or it’s managed better there. Player misconduct only becomes national news when there is a player suspended such as the case with Watkins. Most people actually forgot or didn’t even realize that the incident earlier this year had happened until his last incident, which ended up being his second chance wasted. Now he is no longer a Gator without ever stepping onto the field in front of 85,000+ fans, and will, if he’s lucky play in front of 3,000 fans at a JUCO somewhere.

  10. This is blown out of proportion and “Tay Bang” is full of crap. They are kids and will never remain mistake-free. The NCAA and college football are walking hypocrites when it comes to discipline. However, it is telling when you see those players with more heart and hustle on a cell phone video, than they showed on the football field. Mullen has his work cut out for him. He is inheriting a program that averages 5 losses per year for the last 10 years and he is having to clean out all the players that Mac recruited. Mac was as lazy as they come, therefore I’m sure his recruits probably reflect his personality. I think Mullen will get it done but I also believe that he had no idea this program was in such bad shape. We saw it on the field last year. We are seeing it in recruiting. We are seeing it off the field. The first step will be improvement on the field this year. If we can show improvement, then maybe he can close a decent recruiting class so we can start pushing Mac’s guys out of this program. Foley did great things for UF athletics but his back-to-back hires of Champ and Mac rocketed this football program back to 1986. At least in 1986, we won 6 games and went to a bowl. I think Mullen will pull us back up but the reality is setting in that it will not be a quick fix.

  11. ON THE FIELD YOU CAN NOT HIDE BEHIND GUNS, FAKE OR REAL. I would like to see how TOUGH and manly they are in uniform on the field against the opponents they were recruited here to face. Are they trying to get suspended so they won’t have to live up to the competition they were brought to Gainesville to face. Right now I think they are a BUNCH of cowards that hide behind FAKE guns, not that I want them to have real ones. Tough guys battle like men, hand to hand combat. These are a BUNCH of PUS… just my opinion.

  12. How was Mr.Tay Bang able to rent cars to these players? Don’t you have to be at least 25 years old to rent a car from a rental company? If Mr. Bang is still employed at Enterprise? If so, and he did rent cars to underage players, should he not be fired?

  13. I said right after Coach Mullen was hired, that this year was one to see what he has at Florida, and from now on he will recruit what he needs for a sucessful program for the the future. I agree that Wells need to be released, as he is nothing more than another Calloway. Anyway the season is only a month away and what I’m going to do is watch my Gators play and just enjoy the football season. Minus the NFL. I’ll never watch another NFL game. Gone for now!!!!!!!!!!!!

  14. Hate to say it as a long time Gator fan but it’s time to stop the nonsense. All of these guys need to be gone no matter how bad it hurts the program, a precedent has to be set! Doesn’t matter if guilty or not just them being associated with these types is enough! When you lay with dogs you’re going to get fleas. This black eye on our University and athletics has gone on to long enough.

  15. Coach Savage needs to have these guys running stadiums so often and for so long that they puke their guts out. This discourages bar-hopping, night clubbing, and deprives numbskulls like these of the energy to play Gangstas of the Ghetto. A daily evening puking followed by a couple hours of dry heaves ought to do the trick. Back in the day, this was a tried and true method of keeping 82nd troopers out of “Fayette Nam” at least until the weekend. I had hoped Savage was working them silly enough to discourage this type of behavior, but I guess they are transforming their bodies and losing their minds!

  16. It is becoming more apparent every day at the quality (as in lack of) of players Mac recruited. I really hope that Coach Mullen will draw a firm line in the sand and tell these guys.. “if you cross it, you are gone, no matter where you are on the depth chart”. I would support that 100%! Quality of Character should be just as important as athletic ability or filling out a roster. Come on Coach, let’s field a team that Gator Nation can be proud of and this doesn’t just mean wins and losses.

  17. Never thought the players from the credit card fraud should’ve been allowed to remain at UF. Why was Justin Watkins allowed to matriculate after the public news of his behavior in Ocala was released? That could have saved a lot of embrassment. I had three questions after watching the video of players running through the campus with seeming real but actually airsoft weapons: 1) Would I feel the same way if they were not African American? 2) Am I putting football over the welfare of the University? 3) Would I want my child to go to UF? I can only answer #3 definitively. That makes the other two questions in-material. It’s difficult to cheer for a team when you don’t respect them as students or as good prospective citizens.

  18. You nailed it, Nassau. Maybe I’m just an aging, 50’s white guy who can’t relate to the street culture. But I am expected at least to root for, if not spend thousands of dollars and the majority of my fall weekends watching in person a bunch of punks that cannot comprehend what is involved in becoming a responsible, law abiding, honorable young man, representing my beloved alma mater.
    At least win more than 4 games if you must act like that.

  19. I keep picturing Zachary at the club, sitting with $10 bottle of cheap champagne, trying to impress the ladies. “I’m big time down to the Enterprise Rent A Car. A fine girl like you? I’d hook you up with a sweet discount on a Yugo. For sure. That’s the kind of pull I have. I’m big time, baby. Also, I am a gambler. I regularly roll dice in the parking lot behind the Rent A Car with some heavy hitters from the Chipotle next door. I also play a lot of scratch offs.”

    A couple football players walk into the club, the ladies all rush over to the players, leaving the “rent a car rock star” alone with his crew of losers seething with rage. “I will get you, Gators! I’ll get you good!!!!!!” Then, he starts picking his teeth with his “Authentic Ninja Throwing Star as seen on Cartoon Network,” thinking he looks cool.

  20. We’ve had this kind of problem for decades. The difference recently is the gang mentality, so that UF and GPD are not just dealing with lone issues, but large groups of guys being foolish. Single guys like Watkins are easy to address: give them a second chance and then boot them if they blow it. Dealing with 8 or 10 guys who are all making serious mistakes requires much stronger action. Clearly, McElwain provided neither guidance nor hope for his recruits. Dysfunctional leadership begets a dysfunctional team of boys transitioning into manhood. Some kids are ready to be away from their mothers and/or father’s and some aren’t. It’s up to the coach to make sure his players, many of whom would not be in college were it not for their football talent, are acclimated to their surroundings and directed to make only the right decisions. While I don’t believe everything being described, there’s enough evidence that many players made multiple stupid decisions.

    I’m deeply worried that Emory Jones was involved in any way with this crap. The first step for Mullen to right the ship is to make sure McElwain’s numbskulls don’t infect the incoming players. Seems like it is too late.

    I’m no longer holding my breath. This season is really starting to have a gloomy feel about it. And it hasn’t started.

        • You have to keep a low profile around Maxine, don’t give her the chance! But I think the problem lies in something Arnold mentioned a couple of weeks ago — the “new” software or program to reduce “trolls”. I’m all for it to a degree, but as with anything else, you’re going to get some friendly casualties too in the collateral radius of damage. This is what I mean by “fratricide” when we sling around the troll label, only meaning that we don’t like what the person said.

          I’ve had a couple of posts mysteriously deleted too, and I’m not sure why. I can prove it however, since I can go back under “Members” and retrieve the post, but if it doesn’t appear in “view conversation”, then I know it was deleted by the administrator.

  21. This is unacceptable behavior for anyone on UF campus, or any campus. Seeing the video of night time battle around Flavet Field and university dorms. Where are Mullen, Striklen and Fuchs? On vacation? Gentlemen you are responsible for bringing these shady characters on campus and they pose a potential threat to everyone in the UF community. The silence from top UF administrators is disturbing.