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July 23, 2013
Charges against Morrison dropped
Antonio Morrison's latest arrest should have never happened. That's what the State Attorney's Office announced Tuesday afternoon when it officially dropped the charges held against Florida's sophomore middle linebacker for harassing a police animal and resisting arrest without violence.
Morrison was taken into custody shortly after 3 a.m. Sunday when Alachua County sheriff William A. Arnold reported Morrison barked at his K9 partner, Bear, and resisted arrest.
Monday, the Gainesville Sun acquired video from the dashboard camera of Arnold's car that captured Morrison's arrest as well as a conversation between Arnold and Morrison once the 19-year-old was in custody.
I'm being very direct and to the point with you. You're not getting it," Arnold could be heard telling Morrison. "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."
Gainesville defense attorney Huntley Johnson told David Jones of the Florida Today the arrest was "overzealous to the point it was embarrassing." Alachua County sheriff Sadie Darnell told the Gainesville Sun Morrison should have been warned, not arrested.
State attorney Bill Cervone said the following in an official statement:
"In my view, no arrest should have been made in this case, whether technically sustainable or not. In my office, I teach and we attempt to practice restraint. The power to do something as profound as depriving another person of liberty and subjecting him to all of the consequences of an arrest or prosecution cannot be abused, even when one's patience is thin. After nearly 40 years as a prosecutor I understand the pressures that officers on the street deal with. Those pressures simply cannot be allowed to override common sense and the law, as they may have in this situation."
He added a police animal must be involved in some duty to be a target of harassment. Cervone also questioned Morrison's arrest resistance, saying there was nothing other than him vocally questioning his arrest, which is not illegal.
Morrison's deferred prosecution for a June arrest remains the same.
UF coach Will Muschamp was in Bristol, Conn., Tuesday appearing on numerous programs for ESPN. He said he was "disappointed" in Morrison's actions but avoided discussing the legality of the arrest.
As for the proposed two-game suspension Muschamp imposed on Morrison just hours after the arrest: "As of now nothing has changed with Antonio's discipline status"