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Charges dropped against world’s top golfer Scottie Scheffler after Louisville arrest

All criminal charges against Scottie Scheffler have been dropped, a Louisville prosecutor said in court Wednesday.

The Louisville Metro Police Department arrested Scheffler, the world’s No. 1. golfer, outside of Valhalla Golf Club earlier this month, alleging that he failed to comply with an officer’s instructions and consequently “dragged” an officer to the ground with his moving vehicle.

Scheffler’s attorney, Steve Romines, has maintained since the May 17 arrest that his client did nothing wrong, and he would take the case to trial if the prosecutor wouldn’t drop the charges.

Jefferson County Attorney Mike O’Connell said under Kentucky Supreme Court rules for prosecutors, they must “refrain from prosecuting a charge that the prosecutor knows is not supported by probable cause.”

“Therefore, based upon the totality of the evidence, my office cannot move forward in the prosecution of the charges filed against Mr. Scheffler,” he said. “Mr. Scheffler’s characterization that this was, quote, ‘A big misunderstanding,’ close quote, is corroborated by the evidence.”

O’Connell said Detective Bryan Gillis was concerned for public safety at the scene when he tried to stop Scheffler, but Scheffler’s “actions and the evidence surrounding their exchange during this misunderstanding do not satisfy the elements of any criminal offenses.”

Jefferson County, Kentucky, prosecutor Mike O’Connell
Jefferson County, Kentucky, prosecutor Mike O’Connell

Gillis, who was directing traffic after after a pedestrian was killed in the early morning darkness, claimed Scheffler disregarded his instructions before hitting him with his SUV and dragging him to the ground, causing injury to the detective.

But Gillis’ version quickly came under attack.

In violation of LMPD policy, Gillis failed to activate his body worn camera, leaving no documentation of his claim.

Three ESPN employees who were arriving at the course to cover the tournaments disputed the detective’s account, saying they saw him running alongside Scheffler’s official PGA vehicle and that he may have slipped and fallen.

And video from a pole, mounted camera on the other side of the Shelbyville Road, did not substantiate the detective’s claim.

At first, Louisville officials, including Mayor Craig Greenberg, declined to comment, saying they would let the criminal case against Scheffler play out in court.

But on Tuesday, O’Connell’s office said he would address the court even though Scheffler had not yet been arraigned on the charges.

‘Scottie didn’t pay anyone to make this case go away’

Speaking to the news media after the Wednesday afternoon hearing, O’Connell said Romines and Scheffler are free to file a lawsuit against the police department. They did not stipulate to probable cause in order to get the charges dismissed, which would have been an acknowledgment that police had reason to arrest Scheffler.

Asked whether the arresting office told the truth, O’Connell said he didn’t know.

Addressing reporters afterward, Romines said Scheffler was going to file suit starting Monday, the day of his scheduled arraignment, if charges weren’t dismissed. But because the charges are dropped, Scheffler will not be suing.

“There are absolutely grounds for a lawsuit, but he doesn’t want to be involved in it. Scottie Scheffler wants to move on from it,” Romines said.

Romines said Scheffler has no interest in suing the city because it would be a distraction from his golf career, and he doesn’t want Louisville taxpayers to bear the burden of the cost of a verdict or settlement.

“Scottie didn’t pay anyone to make this case go away.”

Romines, who has been involved in numerous civil lawsuits against LMPD, said litigation, unfortunately, doesn’t reform police actions. Instead, it merely sticks taxpayers with the bill.

Romines said Scheffler would have sued if he thought it would make a difference in how LMPD operates.

Attorney Steve Romines speaks to the media Wednesday May 29, 2024 after the Jefferson County Attorney’s office dropped all charges against PGA golfer Scottie Scheffler during a traffic incident at Valhalla Golf Course May 17.
Attorney Steve Romines speaks to the media Wednesday May 29, 2024 after the Jefferson County Attorney’s office dropped all charges against PGA golfer Scottie Scheffler during a traffic incident at Valhalla Golf Course May 17.

Romines said Scheffler was “the victim in this case.”

Gillis overcharged Scheffler, he said, a common police tactic to gain leverage over defendants.

Romines also said the incident should send a message to all motorists.

“Every person, regardless of if you are the best golfer in the world or just going to watch a tournament, you are one wrong turn or one encounter with a police officer going sideways — even if you do nothing wrong — from being charged with a plethora of crimes you didn’t commit,” Romines said.

Even after Scheffler was wrongly arrested, Romines said a video from inside the police cruiser that brought him downtown to the jail showed he was polite, a gentleman and “trying to defuse the situation.”

“That’s why you don’t talk to the police,” Romines said. “They are not trying to get to what happened. They are trying to get you to incriminate yourself.”

Romines said Scheffler did not “drag” Gillis with his vehicle, according to witnesses he’s spoken with.

“You believe they would have dismissed this case if he was dragged?” Romines said. “No. That did not happen.”

Asked whether Gillis told the truth about the encounter, Romines said people can make their own decisions about that.

In a statement, Aaron Ellis a spokesperson for LMPD, said the department ”respects the County Attorney’s decision, and we respect the judicial process.

“LMPD will remain focused on our mission to serve the city of Louisville and mitigate violent crime. “

Scheffler was taken to jail and charged with second-degree assault of a police officer, a felony, third-degree criminal mischief, reckless driving and disregarding traffic signals from an officer directing traffic.

Scheffler faced a maximum 10-year prison term and a fine of up to $10,000 if convicted of second-degree assault.

After he was booked, released and returned to Valhalla for the tournament’s second round, Scheffler said on X, formerly Twitter, he “never intended to disregard any of the instructions. I’m hopeful to put this to the side and focus on golf today.”

The arrest of Scheffler drew worldwide attention to Louisville and condemnation of its troubled police department.

In March 2023, the federal Department of Justice issued a scathing report about LMPD, saying it found probable cause that the police force in Kentucky’s largest city had engaged in a pattern and practice of violating federal law and the constitution.

The DOJ initiated the investigation into LMPD in April 2021, more than a year after police fatally shot 26-year-old Breonna Taylor in her South Louisville apartment in March 2020. Taylor’s death prompted months of protest in Louisville and community demands for change from the police department, including to its body camera policy.

The plain-clothed officers who attempted to serve a search warrant on Taylor’s apartment did not wear or active body cameras.

Federal prosecutors have charged four officers in connection with the Taylor case.