Police: UF linebacker Morrison arrested for barking at K-9
Published: Sunday, July 21, 2013 at 10:47 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, July 21, 2013 at 10:47 a.m.
Antonio Morrison, a University of Florida linebacker who was arrested last month after police said he punched a bouncer, is in legal trouble again. This time deputies say he interfered with an investigation by barking at a police K-9.
Morrison, a 19-year-old sophomore, was arrested early Sunday morning after Alachua County Sheriff's deputies said that he harassed the dog during an incident near a bar that has been the scene of dozens of law enforcement calls in recent months.
Reaction was swift from Gator team officials.
“I'm extremely disappointed in Antonio Morrison's decision making,” Coach Will Muschamp said on the UF Twitter account Sunday. “He has been suspended from the team and will miss at least two games to begin the season.”
UF opens against Toledo on Aug. 31 before a road game at Miami the following week.
Morrison was arrested on two misdemeanor charges and was released from the Alachua County jail Sunday afternoon, but the area's chief prosecutor said late Sunday that he has some concerns about the legality of the charges.
“Based on the initial report, I have to question the sufficiency of the evidence to constitute a crime,” said State Attorney Bill Cervone. “Simply barking at a dog may not be enough. I'll have to look at the statute,” he said, noting that the law calls for malicious intent.
He added that depending on the outcome of a review of this incident his office will be conducting, the plea deal Morrison worked out after the incident last month could be in jeopardy.
According to the report, at about 2:30 a.m., Deputy William Arnold responded to a call about a suspicious incident and disturbance at the Scottish Inn at 4041 SW 13th St.
The motel is next to the All Star Sports Bar on Southwest 13th Street, a bar and grill that can stay open until 4 a.m. as long as it stops serving alcohol at 2 a.m.
Deputies have responded to more than 200 calls to that scene since August 2012 mainly because of trouble among the large crowds that congregate in the parking lots and nearby businesses. The sheriff's office routinely assigns between eight and 11 deputies to patrol the area on weekend nights.
Arnold was talking to several men in a car and had activated the automatic door release on his cruiser in case he had to remotely release the dog, named Bear.
At that moment, several young men, including Morrison, walked past the patrol vehicle, which had its emergency lights activated. Morrison then went over to the patrol car and started making barking noises through the open car window at the dog, according to the report.
This distracted the dog's attention from the occupants of the car, Arnold said, and Bear began barking at Morrison.
The deputy approached Morrison and told him to stand at the front of the patrol car. Arnold tried to handcuff Morrison, but he resisted. Two other deputies arrived and helped handcuff Morrison, who had to be told several times to stop resisting, the report states.
Morrison told deputies that he had made a “woof-woof” sound at the dog officer because it barked at him first. Morrison was arrested on misdemeanor charges of interfering with a police animal and resisting arrest without violence. He was released from the Alachua County jail Sunday afternoon on his own recognizance.
Cervone said he has some questions about whether Morrison should have been arrested in the first place and he will be interviewing Arnold as soon as possible.
“I do not take (the report) at face value,” he said. “I need to know a lot more.”
This is the second incident involving law enforcement within five weeks for Morrison. He was arrested by Gainesville Police after an incident June 16 outside the Kava Bar & Hookah Lounge at 1007 W. University Ave. after police said he got into an argument with a bouncer who refused to waive the cover charge for Morrison. The report said Morrison told the bouncer, “Don't you know who I am? I'm a football player. I'm Antonio!”
Morrison then hit the bouncer with his fist on top of the head.
He was arrested on a misdemeanor charge of battery early the next morning by GPD.
Morrison was given deferred prosecution following the June 16 incident. As part of the deal worked out with the State Attorney's Office, Morrison agreed to pay $100 in fines, perform community service hours, attend a drug and alcohol program and anger management classes and take part in two eight-hour ride-alongs with UF police.
Cervone said that this arrest may impact that deal.
“If a criminal offense was involved, that plea deal could be revoked,” he said, meaning that Morrison could face jail time.