Kudos to the Sherriff's department for releasing the video and I always have the utmost respect for law enforcement, but what we see on the video looks more like a power trip from an officer of the law than a thug football player that as I had assumed, has no respect for authority.
Before I go on I want to pause and make it clear my stand on "Johnny law". I absolutely have the utmost respect for police officers, military personnel, firemen, and all of those public service people that put their lives in harm's way to protect people like me from those that want to harm people like me.
I would never want and could not perform the duties they do and go through the stress they must endure in their job. I really can't say that enough.
That said, I think they do make mistakes, and in my opinion this was clearly a mistake on their part. However, I choose not to write the name of the officer even though it is public. I know nothing about the man here and one incident does not define a man, especially when that incident takes place doing a job that comes with the mountains of stress mentioned above.
If you don't know the story of this incident by now, the short version goes something like this. Morrison and some friends were walking outside in Southwest Gainesville when they walked in the vicinity of a K-9 police unit.
The officer from the vehicle was dealing with another group of people and was out of the car at the time. Morrison and friends walked close enough to the vehicle for the dog inside to bark at the group. Morrison made the mistake of barking back, which he admitted freely when the officers on the spot talked to him.
The dog evidently became agitated and so did the officer in charge. The officer left the group he was dealing with and went directly to Morrison started talking to him and immediately grabbed his arm when he was close enough.
Morrison looked shocked in the video, really in disbelief that the officer was grabbing him. So he paused and maybe re-treated a half step and it seemed he was just trying to analyze the situation. A couple of more officers came in and applied some force in a situation that to me looked a little overdone, but again I have never done what they do and don't want to do what they do.
That was really the only angst supplied by Morrison in the whole situation. In fact outside his constant looks of disbelief while the arrest was going on, he was just trying to plead his case with the officers and doing so in a very respectful manner.
The Sun also talked to Sherriff Sadie Darnell who is in charge of the Sherriff's office in Alachua County and she agreed that this was a situation that probably went a little too far as far as the officers were concerned.
"While acknowledging that the arrest may have been heavy handed, Darnell was careful to point out that the incident occurred next door to All Star Sports Bar on Southwest 13th Street," reported The Gainesville Sun. "The bar and grill can stay open until 4 a.m. as long as it stops serving alcohol at 2 a.m. and has been the subject of more than 200 police calls and investigations for numerous violent crimes."
"Darnell told the Sun that she believed the deputy was technically correct that Morrison could be charged under the statute which 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 the more appropriate action."
After he entered the back of the car you can hear Morrison's tone and it was anything but malicious. It was respectful and upset from being in the situation at all. Here is most of the transcript of the video.
Morrison: "This is crazy man."
Officer: "It is, it's crazy. Why are you acting this way?
Morrison: "Officer, please let me go."
Officer: "After your behavior right now, you are telling me not to let you go."
Morrison: "I am cooperating."
Officer: "You are not cooperating and you didn't want to come stand by my car."
Morrison: "Yes I did."
Officer: "No you didn't. What did you just say? Why did we put force on you?"
Morrison: "You put force on me, (but) I walked back to you. Officer, listen to me. I'm not looking for any trouble. I just want to go home.
Officer: The beginning should have been not barking at my dog.
Morrison: "You know I am not trying to cause any trouble. I am a good kid, man. I am not from down here. I never go out. I just said ‘woof-woof' at the dog. This is crazy man,. Officer, I am not looking for any trouble I just said ‘woof-woof'."
To add to the wackiness of this incident, the officer admits that maybe this was just a bad night for him. Another officer approaches that he thanks for helping ‘subdue" Morrison and then he tells that officer that he has had better nights.
"I appreciate you being here," the officer said on the video. "Yeah my patience is pretty thin."
With his thin patience, the officer decides he needs to explain one more time just why Morrison was being detained and booked into jail.
"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."
Morrison: "I understand that. I understand that. (respectfully)"
Officer: "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?"
Darnell shared more about what these officers go through.
"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."
Morrison responds but the response cannot be understood. The officer isn't buying what Morrison said and then becomes a psychologist determining Morrison's true feelings on the matter at hand.
"I'm being very direct and to the point with you. You're not getting it. You're not getting it at all. You can continue to sit here with your crocodile tears and ask me for favors and do whatever. I'm telling you, you're going to jail for interfering with my dog. That's it."
I do have a little problem with the tears comment. In every bit of the video we see that Morrison has been cooperative and in every part we are able to hear he was very respectful to the officer, where does this guy get off doubting that Morrison is really upset over the situation?
And the bottom line is the county prosecutor is also not quite sure what to believe of the situation. More from The Sun.
"'Based on the initial report, I have to question the sufficiency of the evidence to constitute a crime,' State Attorney Bill Cervone told the Gainesville Sun. ‘Simply barking at a dog may not be enough. I'll have to look at the statute," he said, noting that the law calls for malicious intent.'"
And now back to my admission. I was as guilty as this officer was. I didn't have the advantage of being at the scene, but I assumed that Morrison made a mistake in barking at the dog and didn't realize that was against the law. (I didn't either) I assumed that Morrison then mouthed off to the officers and resisted far more than the video would indicate.
I assumed this because he had a prior event that landed him in jail just five weeks ago. But, my assumptions were all wrong.
He made a mistake. He should have been told by the officers that he made a mistake and probably done so in a manner that he wouldn't forget.
But it really appears that because someone's "patience was thin" the incident turned into much more than that.
Morrison wasn't targeted as a football player. That was made clear on the video because the arresting officer had no idea who he was even after he learned the name. It just seems he did a stupid and silly thing at the wrong place and at the wrong time.
Morrison was suspended for at least two games right away for the incident. A suspension that I imagine will be lessened a great deal after this video has gone public and after the folks at the football team can wrap their fingers around it.
I condemned the man to a certain degree and for that I apologize.
As for the officer, he's in a line of duty that requires his nerves to be settled and his head to be clear. A little time off might be good for him instead.
Here is the YouTube video provided by The Gainesville Sun...