Nole Contendere: FSU Football Player Allegedly Drove On Suspended License, Totaled Approaching Car, Fled Scene . . . Then Given Two Minor Tickets

FSU_Seminoles_logoThere are serious questions raised this week as to whether a star football player from Florida State was given preferential treatment not only by university police but Tallahasee police after a hit-and-run where two cars were totaled. At the heart of the controversy, is starting cornerback P. J. Williams who was allegedly driving the car that slammed into an oncoming vehicle. A second starting cornerback, Ronald Darby, also reportedly fled the scene at 2:30 am. However, neither was charged and the incident was not written up by the university police — as if it never happened. Just a couple of minor tickets for the “Noles.” It is a new meaning to nolo contendere. It usually means a defendant not contending a charge. In this case, Nole contendere is used by police to say “I do not wish to contend” a criminal charge against a FSU player. [For full disclosure, my wife is an FSU graduate and a “Nole”].

A teenager, Ian Keith, was returning form a job at an Olive Garden when Williams reportedly drove into the opposing lane and hit the car. Williams then left his wrecked vehicle in the street and fled into the darkness along with his two passengers. One of the passengers was allegedly Darby, the team’s other starting cornerback.

The FSU campus police were called to the scene even though it was off campus. So was the FSU athletic department. Thus, it was clear that the matter was viewed as potentially troubling for the FSU football program. It was only after the New York Times published an account that anyone seemed willing to acknowledge the incident. There was not even a mention that the airbag had deployed and Keith was slightly injured. After all, Keith just works at an Olive Garden. He is no Nole.

The Times detailed how Williams was driving with a suspended license but was let go with two minor traffic tickets even though the incident was initially classified as a hit and run. So, let’s recap. A man driving on a suspended license slams into another car and could have killed the other driver. He then flees the scene. The police call in the FSU police and the entire matter is dropped with just a couple traffic tickets. Worse yet, due to an alleged “technical error,” even the downgraded incident was not put into the police call database.

To his credit, Williams did return though it is not clear what happened in the interim. While Williams eventually returned to the scene, he was not tested for alcohol — a standard response to such accidents (particularly after the driver and passenger flee the scene). Indeed, there is no evidence that they were even asked if they had been drinking despite that fact that this was 2:30 in the morning. It was apparently relevant that they were FSU players given the call to the campus police and the athletic program, but not whether they were drunk.

The University police not only arrived at the scene but they two ranking officers — including the shift commander. Yet they also omitted any report of the incident.

The university has given conflicting responses after the incident was made public, including the apparently false statement that the police were required to call in campus police under a “mutual aid agreement.” The Tallahassee police said that that is news to them and that no such policy exists. The University also said that William drove his car home. I wonder where they got that information?

If this was the standard approach to people who return to a scene, I would be less troubled. However, the incident has been compared to the response to a minor accident at low speed when another young man left a scene and did not call police for 30 minutes. He was charged with a hit-and-run.

We recently discussed an equally troubling case of an officer who left the scene of an accident without charges, though he claimed it was dangerous to remain on the road. We have had other such cases.

For Williams, he was able to have his license reinstated just two days later with the payment of overdue fines. However, with the fines on the recent accident unpaid, the license was again suspended.

Academics continues to struggle with disclosures of special treatment given to athletes like those at the University of North Carolina. The corrosive effect of the big money from college sports, particularly football and basketball, has continued to impact schools and their integrity. University presidents are often accused of running schools like businesses and these teams gradually become the dominant element at schools as reflected by absurd coach salaries and low academic standards. However, this controversy is far, far more serious since it involves alleged criminal conduct and the involvement of local police.

The burden remains on the university faculty to demand answers not only for the conduct of university officials but the allegedly false information released in the aftermath of the disclosure.

By the way, the Noles are 10-0 this season . . . though that may just be the success on the criminal docket.

Source: NY Times

29 thoughts on “Nole Contendere: FSU Football Player Allegedly Drove On Suspended License, Totaled Approaching Car, Fled Scene . . . Then Given Two Minor Tickets”

  1. Heisman Trophy voting this year ended in a tie: The Florida State University police and the Tallahassee police will split the award.

  2. Oops! left out word: “only a documentarian would utter such a ‘blasphemy’ today despite the fact that in too many instances the truth is likely even more expansive and all-powerful than that.”

  3. Paul wrote: “college as a football stadium surrounded by some classrooms.” Such a statement of truth is startling. I suspect only a documentarian would utter “blasphemy” today despite the fact that in too many instances the truth is likely even more and all-powerful than that.

  4. “All the animals are equal but the pigs [‘pigskins’] are more equal.” Money, sports pride, and influence win out again – such an old refrain.

    1. DrSigne – There is a silent movie, The Freshman, done in the ’20s,(cannot remember the stars) but I remember the title card describing the college as a football stadium surrounded by some classrooms.

  5. Darby has an interesting habit of being around other teammates when they are up to no good. He was one of two players who witnessed and gave affidavits about the encounter between Jameis Winston and his (alleged) victim.

    Cue Jimbo Fisher gushing about what upstanding young men he has on his team.

    1. bettykath – that is not the argument you use when defending Obama. You make the claim that since Bush or Reagan did it, it is alright that Obama does it. Surely we can continue this type of behavior for college athletes based on your logic.

  6. Whats the big deal?? why the sudden excitement?? Jocks been getting a free ride for decades – and you are just figuring this out?

    1. Bruce – looking at it from a business standpoint, the good athletes are putting bums in the seats, as the British say. That keeps the coaches paid and the alumni happy.

  7. Getting a drivers license doesn’t mean they will get automobile insurance. It’s moonbeam Brown’s way of stopping the hit and run accidents but it won’t work The immigration law that Obama wants the house to pass doesn’t secure the borders first and that’s why it’s stalled. If the border isn’t secured how many more illegal aliens do you think are coming?

  8. randyjet,
    It was on the news this morning that CA DMV hours of operation will be increased to accommodate the millions of illegal aliens allowed to get licenses in January.

    1. That sounds like a great deal for Californians who like to drive drunk or have their licenses suspended. All they have to do is go there and get a new license under an alias and use a Hispanic last name. They can claim they were brought here as babes, and that is why they cannot speak Spanish or provide a birth certificate. it will be a great opportunity for illegals to get a couple of licenses under different names too.

  9. In the ‘olden days’ it was important for the university to have a friend in the courthouse. In some places that seems to continue. And, frankly, if rape and murder is no reason to deport people, why would a suspended license be reason for anything more than a minor traffic ticket? Lead and we shall but follow.

  10. Hell, illegals drive now with NO license at all to suspend. Then if they get in an accident and run, as most do, they are safe from being deported, and CA has made it illegal for law enforcement to report such crooks to ICE. So at least these two guys returned, have a license, are legally here, and contribute a lot to their community.

    When I see millions of illegals being held to account for their crimes, then I will start getting more upset at these two kids getting such special treatment.

  11. And they told me that life is fair
    But I can’t smoke a plant that was made by God
    But I can kill my wife if I’m a football player

    Laughing colours – war on drugs

  12. Florida State University is a football program masquerading as a university (no disrespect toward Mrs. Turley intended). NC State is the same, as are too many other colleges and universities.

    (Full disclosure: I had the good fortune to graduate from the University of Wisconsin, which although it has an excellent football program, is actually a bar masquerading as a university.)

    Did Williams receive preferential treatment because of his status as a football player? No doubt about that. Just ask if any other young black male would have received the same hand slap for taking a car, wrecking it, driving without a license, and fleeing the scene. Not. A. Chance.

  13. Please, they are foolball players and are thereby exempt from the laws us mere mortals are supposed to follow. Let them go, give them a bonus for surviving the crash.

    Play Ball!

  14. Look, try to understand – when the only reason one goes to school is to provide entertainment for the Saturday fans & the money it makes for the University – what do you expect from all those who benefit from that entertainment ?

  15. “The Times detailed how Williams was driving with a suspended license but was let go with two minor traffic tickets even though the incident was initially classified as a hit and run.”

    Two tickets? Freaking savages. Would have gotten a far less punishment if they had just raped someone.

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