By Daniel Smithson
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.