Perine called for holding: Tow truck driver files battery complaint

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Lamical Perine answers questions during the University of Florida's Football Media Day on August 2, 2018. [Lauren Bacho/Gainesville Sun/File]

By Daniel Smithson

 Staff writer

State Attorney Bill Cervone is not yet convinced the allegation rises to the level of a battery charge.

Florida senior running back Lamical Perine could face a battery charge after a tow truck driver accused him of pulling his arm when the driver tried to tow his mother’s vehicle.

Perine, 21, was accused May 7 in a sworn complaint of arguing with a tow truck driver while he tried to hook onto the car to tow it. The car did not have a required decal.

Perine grabbed the tow truck driver’s arm and pulled him away from the car in an attempt to thwart his towing efforts, according to the complaint.

State Attorney Bill Cervone said Perine was not arrested but could be issued a notice to appear in a court, pending prosecutors’ review.

He said the tow truck driver has not yet talked to attorneys about whether there was more to the encounter or if what Gainesville police wrote in the sworn complaint was accurate.

Cervone has not made a decision on whether to prosecute. However, he’s not convinced the allegation rises to the level of a battery charge.

“That is bullsh–. There’s a certain amount of touching that is not intended to be a criminal matter,” Cervone said. “I could put my arm on your shoulder as I walk past you and technically that’s battery. Some people revel in something that’s not a big deal. It’s a football player and it becomes the end of the world.”

Perine is the presumed starter at tailback for Florida next season.

Perine, a Mobile, Alabama native, racked up nearly 1,000 combined rushing and receiving yards last season as a junior. He scored eight touchdowns.

The case comes after a number of legal issues for the UF football program this off season.

Jalon Jones, a freshman quarterback, transferred from UF after appearing in its spring game. Jones had been accused of sexually assaulting two women April 6, prior to the spring game, but was not arrested because the women did not cooperate with investigators.

Florida junior cornerback Brian Edwards was arrested a month later for misdemeanor battery, after he was accused of grabbing his girlfriend by the neck and scratching her.

Edwards is still taking classes at UF but is not participating in team activities.

UF football assistant director of player personnel Otis Yelverton, 51, remains on administrative leave after his April arrest. He faces an aggravated cyberstalking charge, which is a third-degree felony, court records show.

Yelverton was arrested by Alachua County sheriff’s deputies after they said he left his former girlfriend a voicemail saying he would blow up her vehicle.

Mullen addressed Florida’s off-season issues with the media Wednesday, before a speaking engagement with the Tampa Gator Club.

“There are a lot of things that you go through as a coach. There are scenarios that are going to come up,” Mullen said. “There’s highs, there’s lows at times of stuff you have to deal with. I don’t think it’s frustrating or angry. There’s more a little bit of disappointment than anything else.”

Florida has yet to address the Perine issue. University Athletic Association spokesman Steve McClain said UF officials are aware of the situation with Perine.

28 COMMENTS

  1. This is insane! It’s almost as if everyone outside of the football program in Gainesville looks for any excuse they can to get these players in trouble. It also seems like the Gainesville Sun has a little red light that flashes in their offices the second a football player’s name is involved in something and they’re right there to report is as soon as it happens. If the state attorney is quoted as saying “this is bull—-“, then why bother even reporting about it? Give the program a break from all the negative publicity.

  2. This is like Cable news and Trump. Everyday there is a new story. If the story isn’t trump, trump does something to make sure it is him.

    This stuff has been going on for decades where football players and alike have been targeted. How can the athletic association let this stuff continue. You don’t ever hear about this little dinky stuff coming out of Tuscaloosa, Auburn, Baton Rouge, Columbus….the stuff if anything that come out is serious and usually is an NCAA matter. It’s not like those players go to the pros and all the sudden get in trouble for everything.

    Alachua and the surrounding counties are a little backwoods. That’s putting it nicely. Need an example look at the district rep. Yoho is a nut job. Many of the craziest people in the state live in the area. How often do white athletes get in trouble. Not often.

  3. As a born and raised “Gainesvillian reptilian,” I know 1st hand SOME of these local tow truck drivers JACK UP your car, then say to you while in distress, ” …give me $50 dollars, and I will lower it down.”
    It happen to me in downtown G’ville in the 1990’s, and I guess the local companies’ mgm’t allows their drivers to EXTORT MONEY from locals and students. It must be their “bonus money program.” Hang tough Perine.

  4. What’s funny reading the comments is if you’re like me and read message boards of other teams, the fans of every school say the exact same things. “The local law, the local media, etc, are out to get our players in trouble”. The only difference with an athlete doing a lot of these things that other students get caught doing, is it makes the news when it’s a player. I’ve never seen an opposing fan say they shouldn’t report those minor arrests or altercations 😂😂

    • It’s one thing if there’s an arrest made. It’s a completely different story when no charges have been filed and the state attorney is calling it BS. Seems pretty ridiculous to report on it at this stage. Kind’ve just comes across as the local media piling on the negative news. Maybe wait till actual charges are filed.

  5. I’ve had to go to campus a few times for business and the parking is and has always been terrible there. With over 50K students and no telling how many faculty it is always an issue. I got ticketed while I was going in to get a visitor pass to put on my car. Less than 5 minutes. The faculty took care of it but it is a nightmare non the less. The last 9 paragraphs were nothing but filler and restating at least 3 precious articles, serving nothing other than stirring the pot. While factual and if the article was a summation of the preseason relevant to preseason issues this article is about LP and what happened to him. More pertinent is was his mom visiting him? Was the car blocking a fire hydrant? Parked there for days? (to warrant towing)If it is only there without a sticker a ticket would have sufficed. Probably should have taken the no comment approach but this story is in itself about as worthless as my post.
    GI is correct in that there are some wrecker drivers around campus looking to make a buck.
    Lastly there needs to be more parking to accommodate the students, faculty, visitors, guests to campus.

  6. Unless Gainesville has gotten rid of “roam towing”, tow truck drivers are allowed to ride around looking for “illegally parked” vehicles and can tow them without a cop ever actually being called. It has been a reason of many a mad person thru the years.

  7. Stan’s Towing is the scourge of the earth. A bunch of jerkies who circle Gainesville parking lots like crack heads at the cornerstone on payday looking to beg $5 for a hit. Then they raise your car and tell you to pay $50 now or $150 later. If you’ve gone to UF, you know the routine. My homeboy (this was in 1997) actually went into his car and wouldn’t get out to allow the towing to occur (they can’t tow with someone inside). GPD was called and the cop had to threaten said homeboy with trespassing before he would exit the vehicle. It was as close as I’ve ever seen anyone to actually thwarting the Stasi Stan Towing Company. Puddles of s h i t everyone of them.

    • While I tend to agree that the towing is ridiculous, dont blame the tow truck drivers when in reality it’s the people in charge in the City of Gainesville and at UF that let it happen. If the tree huggers in charge didnt want it to happen, all they would have to do is simply tell them to wait until called by a cop or a business owner before towing.

  8. Been there done that with tow truck drivers. Some think they are law enforcement and act as if they have this massive power. Most tow truck drivers are not petite helpless men. I am sure that if the tow truck driver truly felt threatened he would be fine handling himself. Also, did the car get towed? If so, then the grabbing of the arm must not have been that big of a deal. If Perine is not arrested, why is it even a news story? Is the news filled with stories of someone almost got arrested? Simple truth is that in Gainesville, a football player buying eye drops at the store is a big deal. Must have cataracts. Must be trying to mask the marijuana eyes…Hopefully the players stay inside the football complex until opening day. Go Gators!

    • Ocala, I’ve been around longer than I care to admit — YOB remains classified, of course — but I don’t recall journalism so frequently losing their dignity, if not objectivity and common sense, in the past. We’re long past balance IMO, but it’s a cultural artifact too in that that’s what society wants anymore — sensationalism and drama.

  9. This story reeks!! What a ‘croc’ of crap!! Tow truck drivers I’m sure are ‘battered’ on a daily basis with people who are upset, mad, or just ticked off because their car is being towed. Yet a well known football player who just happens to play for the local university is charged w/ battery. Looks like this guy smells NFL dollars somewhere in the future and is trying to cash in his chips early. I’m SURE that this dude has had-and on more than one occasion I’m sure-some drunk sorority girl or drunk frat boy to lambast them for towing their car and probably had more done to them than having his arm tugged. This is a non-story and is very petty on the part of the driver who got his little man feelings hurt. Sheeesh…GEAUXXX GATORS!!!

  10. Truly BS. When I was in school in Gainesville, I grabbed a tow truck driver trying to tow my car from a handicap space. I stopped him. “He said ‘I own this parking space.'” I told him call the police and let them give
    me a ticket but I ain’t lettin you tow my car. Because i was a nobody, never saw nothin’ in the paper and the driver just called the cops while I moved my car–after unhooking the tow. cops came and didn’t write a ticket, just said don;’t do it again. But because Perine plays football, he gets top billing in the news category. OMG

  11. cattrick is right; an event in the life of someone with a level of celebrity is news when the same event in the life of a relative “nobody” gets ignored. That’s just the way it is.

    Although the accusation is probably overblown, I think the story is legit and balanced. You see the balance immediately in the headline that suggests Perine’s “offense” is more worthy of a penalty flag than prosecution. It continues with the quote from the state attorney that suggests the situation is on the order of intact male bovine excrement.

    If we want to claim the moral high ground against the likes of FSU and Miami, we can’t criticize their local media, university administration, and law enforcement for sweeping things under the rug and then complain about being held to a higher standard.