Mitchell Cited After Gun and Drugs Found

FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas' football team continues to be plagued by off-the-field problems, and the latest incident became public Tuesday.

Defensive tackle Ernest Mitchell was pulled over in Forrest City on June 30, and according to a police spokesperson, an officer found a small caliber gun, drug paraphernalia and what was believed to be a small amount of marijuana in Mitchell's car.

Bill Sadler, public information officer for the Arkansas State Police, said Tuesday that Mitchell wasn't arrested and instead was cited for multiple offenses and then allowed to leave.

Sadler said the senior is scheduled to appear in court on Thursday to face charges of improper display of tags, possession of a controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia and simultaneous possession of drugs and a firearm.

No police report was available because Mitchell wasn't arrested, Sadler said. The spokesperson added that it's not uncommon for an individual to be issued a citation instead of being arrested for the offenses Mitchell is accused of committing.

"Those are misdemeanor charges," Sadler said. "That would not be unusual."

Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino said Mitchell informed him of the incident as soon as the senior returned to Fayetteville. But news of the traffic stop didn't come out until Tuesday, only a few hours after Petrino announced that wide receiver Marques Wade and linebacker Freddy Burton have been suspended for the first two games of the season.

Burton and Wade were each arrested over the past month for driving while intoxicated and careless driving. But Petrino said he'll wait before making a decision on whether to punish Mitchell for his incident.

"He was issued a citation; he wasn't arrested," Petrino said Tuesday evening after participating in a media golf tournament. "I was concerned over what was on the citation, but we do need to let the judicial system run its course."

Petrino said Mitchell was driving back from Georgia — he's from Newnan — when he was stopped by Arkansas State Police because an object was blocking his license plate.

Petrino said Mitchell has a permit for the gun found in his car, adding that the senior has the firearm for target practice. Petrino also said he spoke with the police officer who cited Mitchell and was told that the defensive tackle was "a gentleman" and answered every question during the traffic stop.

Mitchell recorded 65 tackles and 3 1/2 sacks while starting 11 games last season. He's expected to be Arkansas' starting nose tackle despite recovering from a serious knee injury that kept him out of spring practice.

The Razorbacks open preseason camp on Monday, but it's uncertain how much Mitchell will be able to do in practice because of his injured knee.

"I'm not really sure how the knee is coming along. I know he's been running, and he's also had it swell up a couple of times on him," Petrino said. "It's just kind of wait and see."

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