Well here’s one you don’t see everyday. OK, here are two things you don’t see everyday.
First, here’s video of Florida linebacker Antonio Morrison being arrested this weekend for barking at a police dog:
Second, Alachua County sheriff Sadie Darnell has now said that the arresting deputy should have given Morrison a warning instead of arresting him. Darnell told The Gainesville Sun: “… she believed the deputy was technically correct that Morrison could be charged under the law that prohibits taunting police animals, but she stated that, given the obscure nature of the law and the fact that Morrison was probably unaware of it, a warning would have been more appropriate.”
Morrison can be heard asking police: “Officer, please let me go. I’m not looking for any trouble. I just said, ‘Woof, woof.’”
A better idea when 5-0 rolls up on the scene? Shut up and don’t say or do anything that could possibly draw Johnny Law’s attention to yourself. Even saying “woof, woof” to a police dog is pretty doggone stupid (yes, pun intended). It’s hard to understood people who are stand-offish or lippy when it comes to the boys in blue.
The arresting officer — deputy William Arnold — told Morrison: “Let me simply explain something to you. 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 arrest for. All right?”
Now, some will suggest that the deputy was being a bit Barney Fife-ish in carrying out his duties. Perhaps. But this incident took place in the wee hours of the morning outside a bar. The deputies were responding to a report of an aggravated assault when Morrison started barking at the police dog. The atmosphere was charged, as they say.
So while a warning might have been more appropriate, the fact remains — and this is a lesson that every coach should teach every player — athletes need to shut the hell up and avoid engaging police officers (or their dogs). Ever. And if a cop does a approach an athlete, that player should say “Yes, Sir” or “No, Sir” and you do whatever they’re instructed to do.
That fact that this officer might have overreacted is exactly why Morrison, other athletes, or you or I should steer clear of antagonizing any officer in any way. Morrison didn’t know the mood of those cops or what they were doing on the scene. If he’d just kept his trap shut he wouldn’t be indefinitely suspended from the Florida program today. (Morrison was also arrested in June for bunching a bouncer at a Gainesville club. While the deputy might have gone too far, Morrison clearly doesn’t employ the best judgement at times.)
Here’s hoping 14 SEC coaches will use this particular story as a teaching tool for their players. Cooperate with the police when they approach you. But don’t do a darned thing that would give them a reason to approach you.
Update: Will Muschamp talked about Morrison today at ESPN, saying he was “disapppointed” in the linebacker.
“Antonio Morrison is a great young man. He’s been raised right. Anthony and Valentine, his parents, are wonderful people. As a matter of fact, I was on the phone with them last night. He just had some poor judgment in that situation. Nothing good happens after midnight. He made a poor decision to be out at 3 o’clock in the morning.”
Muschamp says Morrison is still suspended from team activities but will be in camp when preseason practice starts next week. He’s suspended Morrison for the Gators first two games – against Toledo and Miami.
Update II: Charges against Morrison have been dropped. Florida is not commenting on whether the suspension will be revisited.