Posted July 23, 2013

Charges dropped surrounding Florida LB Antonio Morrison barking at police dog

Florida Gators, Legal Matters

By Zac Ellis

Charges surrounding the arrest of Florida linebacker Antonio Morrison for barking at a police dog have been dropped, according to a report from GatorSports.com.

Darry Lloyd, spokesman for the State Attorney’s Office, said the charges were dropped, a move that was expected after State Attorney Bill Cervone on Sunday indicated concern with the sufficiency of evidence to constitute a crime.

Gainesville attorney Huntley Johnson, representing Morrison, agreed that evidence was lacking.

“I would say there was no evidence,” Johnson said. “The actions of the police were embarrassing.”

Morrison was arrested Sunday morning for barking at a police dog and resisting arrest, prompting Florida coach Will Muschamp to suspend the linebacker for the first two games of the season. It is unclear whether the dropped charges will affect Morrison’s suspension.

A dashboard camera video released Tuesday showed Morrison pleading with officers to let him go as he is being taken into custody for the two misdemeanors.

Alachua County Sheriff Sadie Darnell told The Gainesville Sun that Morrison should have been given a warning instead of being arrested for barking at a police dog. Darnell called the arrest a “split-second decision during chaos.”

According to FoxSports.com:

In an interview Monday with the The Sun, Darnell said that she understands that Morrison was correctly charged under the law that prohibits taunting police animals, but that a warning would have been “more appropriate” given that Morrison could have been unaware of the law.

The State Attorney has also admitted to questions about the arrest.

“Based on the initial report, I have to question the sufficiency of the evidence to constitute a crime,” State Attorney Bill Cervone said, according to The Sun, noting that the law requires malicious intent. “Simply barking at a dog may not be enough. I’ll have to look at the statute.”

In the video, an officer ignores Morrison’s pleas to be let go and explains why the player is being arrested.

“You’re not getting it at all,” the officer says. “You can continue to sit here with your crocodile tears and ask me for favors and do whatever. I’m telling you, you’re going to jail for interfering with my dog.”

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