The Criminal Charges Against Scottie Scheffler Look Highly Questionable

Scottie Scheffler is seen in handcuffs after his arrest on May 17
Scottie Scheffler is seen in handcuffs after his arrest on May 17 | Louisville Metro Police Department

Those who follow professional golf may have been confused by the recent criminal charges filed against Scottie Scheffler, who apart from his prodigious talent is known for being a wholesome, devout figure.

There's at least one more reason, however, to be confused by the charges, which is that, based on the limited evidence, they appear to be totally disproportionate to what happened.

On May 17, Scheffler was arrested and charged with second-degree assault on a police officer, third-degree criminal mischief, reckless driving, and disregarding signals from officers directing traffic after a cop said Scheffler ignored his directions to stop and that, as a result, the officer was injured. "[Scheffler] refused to comply and accelerated forward, dragging Detective [Bryan] Gillis to the ground," noted the post-arrest complaint. Gillis said he suffered "pain, swelling, and abrasions to his left wrist and knee."

How or when Gillis, who works for the Louisville Metro Police Department, fell to the ground is unclear, as he did not activate his body-worn camera (and he has reportedly been disciplined for that violation of department policy). But footage from a pole camera released today adds a bit more clarity to a narrative that had been based primarily on Gillis' claims.

The video, although not entirely conclusive, appears to show Gillis chasing Scheffler's vehicle—which was moving very slowly—banging on his window, and then arresting him, after which law enforcement booked him in jail.

While it's certainly possible that Gillis hit the ground prior to the pole camera footage, the charges Scheffler is now facing—second-degree assault in Kentucky carries a potential sentence of five to 10 years in prison—look highly questionable. The arrest took place outside the Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Kentucky. Valhalla, amid the PGA Tour, was a busy scene before Scheffler's arrest (earlier that day, a shuttle bus struck and killed a pedestrian). "It was a chaotic situation and a big misunderstanding," Scheffler said in a statement after he was released from jail. It is not difficult to imagine wires getting crossed in the hubbub.

Scheffler's attorney Steven Romines said today that they are "not interested in settling the case" and that they "will either try it or it will be dismissed." Based on the evidence available, and based on the outrage Scheffler's star power has generated, it would seem that the latter is not out of the question. For that, Gillis can, at least in part, blame himself, as his body camera footage would be quite helpful in determining if his claims have merit. At this point, any hypothetical jury would have to accept his story at face value.

But at the very least, it appears Scheffler was grossly overcharged. He's not the first to experience that, but he thankfully has the benefit of public attention and a fan base eager to defend him. He also won't be the last. You'll just be much less likely to hear those people's names.

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