Florida Gators Linebacker Antonio Morrison Arrested For Barking At Police Dog

Capture_34109Florida starting linebacker Antonio Morrison has been suspended from the team after he was arrested for barking at a police dog. That’s right, the 19-year-old was arrested for walking up to a police dog and barking at him. Gainesville police then added a second, and equally dubious charge, of resisting arrest without violence. Morrison came up with a novel defense: he insisted that the dog barked at him first.

According to the Alachua County Sheriff Office’s report, the police responded to a suspicious incident and disturbance call at 3:43 a.m. Sunday at a Gainesville hotel next to a nightclub. Officer William A. Arnold was investigating the suspect vehicle when a group of several men came walking along. Arnold says that Morrison approached his patrol car and began barking at “K-9 Officer Bear” through the open window. It took me a second, that “Officer Bear” is the dog. Officer Bear then responded by barking at Morrison which Arnold says diverted his attention from investigating the vehicle. Arnold described a “woof-woof sound”as the triggering act for the crime. Since the dog was in the car, it is hard to see how it was interfering maliciously with an investigation by “Officer Bear.”

The Florida law (843.19 Offenses against police dogs, fire dogs, SAR dogs, or police horses) is written in an absurdly broad way:

Any person who intentionally or knowingly maliciously harasses, teases, interferes with, or attempts to interfere with a police dog, fire dog, SAR dog, or police horse while the animal is in the performance of its duties commits a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.

Teases or attempts to interfere? It is hard to see where to draw the line on a tease. Is a child sticking out his tongue at a dog enough if he wants to get the dog to bark? What constitutes a malicious act? Morrison insists that he was engaging in defensive or responsive barking. Is that a defense?

This is combined with a charge of resistance often means not moving fast enough or not cooperating. Any opposition or obstruction will do. It is such a broad concept (like interfering with a police dog) that officers could interpret any movement as uncooperative or obstructive.

The problem of Morrison is that this is his second arrest. He was arrested June 16 after allegedly punching a bouncer at a Gainesville nightclub. It looks like he will miss his first two games with the Gators as a starter. It is remarkably stupid since he has a real chance for a NFL shot as a starter with a top college team. However, many teams are leery of a player who do not seem to be able to control themselves. Obviously this is not as serious as now fired Patriots Tight End Aaron Hernandez. For example, my team (and God’s team) the Chicago Bears showed little tolerance for being arrested recently with one of its players. Last month, they waived Evan Rodriguez after his DUI arrest May 31 — his second such offense. He was a Bears draft pick in 2012.

What is astonishing is that the trend of NFL arrests seems to be growing according to recent reports. Thirty former or current NFL players have been arrested since the end of last season. These players do not seem to be able to control themselves for the relatively short period of a NFL career with millions at stake. To start such a record in college, is a huge mistake. It is not fatal. There are some draft picks this year with such records. Indeed, Bears star wide receiver Brandon Marshall has a prior history of troubling conduct, including an arrest as a student at UCF for assault on a law enforcement officer, refusal to obey, disorderly conduct and resisting an officer.

In Morrison’s case, the second arrest is highly dubious and I would be surprised if it stood up, at least the barking at the police dog. His June 16 arrest for simple battery led to a deferred prosecution agreement that allows the charges to be dismissed after six months if he fulfills the terms of the agreement. He must pay $100 in prosecution costs and either an additional $150 or perform 12 hours of community service as well as complete a University of Florida drug-and-alcohol abuse course, attend an anger-management course and participate in two eight-hour ride-alongs with the University of Florida Police Department. That would not seem a major barrier to his career. However, another arrest could make him radioactive for some teams if he decides to go pro. They do not want to give up a draft spot and spend a great deal of money on a person without self control.

I am very sympathetic over the second arrest and I believe it is the arresting officer (not the K-9 officer Bear) who has the most explaining to do. After all, barking is a long honored football tradition — just ask Jim “Mad Dog” Mandich formerly with the Miami Dolphins, or Baltimore Colts Linebacker Mike “Mad Dog” Curtis. Indeed if Bear were present at many games, the result would be mass arrests:


Source: CBS

27 thoughts on “Florida Gators Linebacker Antonio Morrison Arrested For Barking At Police Dog”

  1. Defense attorney should claim he was greeting Officer Bear,in a fr4iendly manner.

  2. “while the animal is in the performance of its duties”

    Sitting in the back of the patrol car unattended and undirected doesn’t seem to fall under the rubric of performing anything other than holding down the back seat. I was unaware patrol cars had an issue with back seats floating away if unattended by a dog. Apparently even gravity functions differently in Floriduh.

  3. Darren, Morrison wasn’t arrested for interfereing with a police dog, and I am certain the officer DID simply tell him to “step away.”

    No, Morrison was arrested for having the audacity to not reply “Yes Master” when the officer spoke to him. Defying the authority of a superior being, THAT is what he must be punished for.

  4. Trust me Mike … it’s true. I know a head trainer who worked for one of the oldest franchises for 30 years. When he retired, the team threw him a weekend long retirement party that kicked off with a formal banquet. The retiree allowed his mother to attend the banquet but told her, in no uncertain terms, that he would not expose her to the rest of the weekend. He was sure everyone would behave themselves at the banquet and just as certain that the majority wouldn’t for the rest of the weekend.

  5. A waste of time at the very least, not to mention slapping a citizen with a crime for doing really nothing more than just making a fool of himself.

    What would have interfered with the police doing their original investigation more: going through the trouble to make a custodial arrest on a guy who walked up to the patrol car and barked at the K9 (and all the ensuing paperwork) or just telling the guy to step away from the patrol car and be done with it?

  6. “Having grown up surrounded by NFL players, I don’t find this the least bit astonishing.”

    I’ve never even met an NFL player but what Blouise is saying seems true. It is a game of violence and macho. Those who play it successfully usually are paragons of this macho and violent mindset. Wasn’t there a Chicago linebacker named Butkus who became a Hall of Famer playing for “God’s” team? Also someone named Ditka who played for and coached the deity’s preferred team:

    “In 1983, Ditka broke his hand after punching a locker in an angry halftime tirade. In 1985, he was arrested and convicted of DWI after returning from a game with San Francisco.In 1986, Ditka formed a gesture with his hand and told a heckler, “See that? That’s your IQ, buddy. Zero.” On another occasion in 1987, he threw a piece of chewing gum at a San Francisco 49ers fan who had heckled and thrown a drink at him during a Monday night match-up. In the midst of a very successful 1988 season, Ditka suffered a heart attack, but bounced back quickly.

    While Ditka was with the Saints, an incident which has made the rounds on sports highlight shows featuring angry coach tirades took place during his last year. An angry Ditka, with his team sitting at 2-7, conducted an impromptu press briefing from a chair in front of the wall of the Saints’ practice facility kept dismissing reporters’ questions with short and curt answers and a sarcastic “next” when he wanted to change the subject. When asked why he was in such a lousy mood Ditka snapped at the reporter, “what do you care? If you were 2-7 you’d be in a bad mood too.” He then cut the press conference short and stormed off.”

    Then too, not to pick on the Bears, but they also just retired another linebacker know for his macho toughness, Brian Erlacher. Now in truth I like all three of these men and really am fond of Mike Ditka. Would that they played for the only team that truly deserves God’s sympathy, the NY Jets, my team. Given the privileges that have always been granted to pro athletes I don’t believe that those of today are any more anti-socially inclined, it’s just that in the past journalists covered up their indiscretions, while in today’s celebrity driven society the media loves the dirt.

  7. “For example, my team (and God’s team) the Chicago Bears showed little tolerance for being arrested recently with one of its players.”


    God must not be too picky about his sports teams. Last championship when Ronald Reagan was in office? But He is all merciful now isn’t he? 😀

  8. “What is astonishing is that the trend of NFL arrests seems to be growing according to recent reports.” (JT)

    Having grown up surrounded by NFL players, I don’t find this the least bit astonishing.

  9. The Bears should make him bark before they draft him if they want him. Make sure his bark is as bad as his bite on the field, so it may not foreclose a carreer with them.

  10. Teasing an animal with lots of teeth trained to take him down? Tormenting an animal that will be killed for defending itself is bad, wrong, and evil as well as stupid. There is no cure for stupid. — Bear

  11. Sht, I bark at strange dogs all the time . . . when they bark at me first.

    How else do you tell a dog that barking is not polite, and how do they like it?

  12. Rare for me to disagree with Jonathan, but I’m with the police officer on this one. The officer is there to do his job, and the dog is there to do his. Trying to rile the dog up–which is clearly what Morrison was doing–is an activity I have no difficulty in interpreting as “interfering.”

  13. “intentionally or knowingly maliciously harasses, teases, interferes with, or attempts to interfere with a police dog”

    I think I would have to hear officer Bear’s testimony regarding the alleged harassment before I could decide this one. It could go either way.

  14. Unless there is more to this story, this cop needs a refresher course in being a public servant….

  15. There is something very wrong with the officer who made this arrest. I had no idea barking at a police dog was a crime. The number of “crimes” now on the books is mind blowing. As for Mr. Morrison, it seems his luck Amy be running out.

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