In an interview with the Gainesville Sun, Sheriff Sadie Darnell said that a warning would have been a more appropriate response than an arrest after Florida linebacker Antonio Morrison barked at a police dog late Saturday night.
Darnell told the Sun that while the arrest was technically correct, Morrison should have probably been given a warning due to the obscure nature of the law.
“Our deputies are caught in a lot of threatening situations and are having to make rational, very well thought out decisions in the context of chaos, and sometimes they don't think them all the way through,” Darnell said. On Sunday morning deputies were responding to a report of an aggravated assault at the scene.
The video (if it's not loading in your browser, try this) starts after Morrison interacted with the dog, but you can see him calmly being cuffed on the hood of the car and barely hear (due to the audio quality of the video) him talking with the arresting officers.
The Gator can be heard asking the officers to let him go, citing that he was not looking for trouble and just said "Woof woof."
Morrison was charged with two misdemeanors and released a few hours later. State Attorney Bill Cervone told the Sun that there may not be enough evidence to constitute a crime, as the law calls for malicious intent towards the animal.
Deputy William Arnold can be heard explaining the arrest to Morrison in the video:
“Let me simply explain something to you,” Arnold said. “I've been listening to you for a few minutes, and here's the problem I got with this, all right? My dog is watching my back and their back. Stop talking. When you walk up to the window and say something to him, you distract him if I need him. So if I open my door remotely with this push button, he's coming out to you and not to me when I need him. That's the end of the story. That's interfering, harassment and teasing a police dog while he's engaged in his duty. That's what you're being arrested for. All right?”
This was Morrison's second incident of the summer, as he was charged with simple battery for allegedly striking a bouncer last month. Gators head coach Will Muschamp suspended Morrison for the first two games of the season following this weekend's arrest.
If these charges get dropped - and that certainly seems like a very real possibility - it'll be interesting to see if Muschamp reduces the suspension. It would help if Morrison went out of his way to avoid police cars at 4 a.m., a lesson he has hopefully picked up from his offseason misadventures with the law.
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