GAINESVILLE, Fla. - The state attorney's office has dropped misdemeanor charges against Florida Gators linebacker Antonio Morrison.
Morrison was arrested Sunday and charged with barking at a police dog and resisting arrest.
State Attorney Bill Cervone said Tuesday that the "dismissal is based on the lack of evidence to warrant much less legally sustain those charges and the complete inappropriateness of pursing court action against Morrison, or anyone else, under the circumstances involved."
"The charge of interfering with a police animal requires malice, and none exists," Cervone said. "It also requires that the animal be engaged in some official duty, and it cannot be said that sitting in the back of a police cruiser is case he is needed constitutes being engaged in such activity."
Cervone added that he reviewed video tape and found no resistance "beyond questioning the actions of law enforcement, which is not illegal."
It was Morrison's second arrest in five weeks, prompting coach Will Muschamp to suspend him for at least the first two games of the season. It's unclear whether Muschamp will uphold the suspension.
According to the Alachua County Sheriff's Office, Morrison walked up to an open window on a police car around 2:30 a.m. Sunday and barked at a K-9 named Bear. The dog barked back, leading a deputy to arrest Morrison for interfering with a police canine.
Dash cam video released by the Sheriff's Office shows deputies arresting Morrison early Sunday morning. The video shows a deputy handcuffing Morrison outside the All Star Sports Club in Gainesville as three deputies pressed him against the hood of a patrol car.
Deputy Michael Arnold said force was needed because Morrison resisted arrest briefly.
Deputies said they were already at the business investigating a separate incident when they say Morrison approach their patrol car and start barking at their police dog through an open window.
"Our deputies deal with chaotic situations daily and have to make quick, on-the-spot decisions," Alachua County Sheriff Sadie Darnell said. "While I believe the deputy's actions were technically correct, due to the obscure nature of the law, a warning would have been more appropriate."
Morrison, a sophomore from Bolingbrook, Ill., also was arrested June 16 for allegedly punching a bouncer. He received deferred prosecution on the simple battery charged, a deal in which he was ordered to stay out of trouble for six months. His latest arrest could have violated terms of that agreement.
But Cervone said Tuesday that the deferral agreement will remain in effect because the second arrest was "legally inappropriate."
"I would expect that Morrison has learned that being out at that hour of the night under those circumstances is setting himself up for a situation where he could risk and lose a great deal," Cervone said. "However, counseling him about where he was and whatever he was doing is not the function of my office. I can only concern myself with criminal culpability, of which there is none."
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