Posted: 7:28 p.m. Monday, July 22, 2013
By Andy Hutchins
The Alachua County Sheriff's Office has released dashboard camera footage of Antonio Morrison's Sunday arrest, and addressed the matter publicly for the first time.
The Gainesville Sun has obtained and edited the video, and you can see their version embedded below.
In the video, Morrison is seen walking by a police car on the left side, and immediately being directed to come to the front of the car by an officer wearing a vest identifying him as a member of the Alachua County Sheriff's Office's K-9 unit. After briefly resisting, Morrison is forcibly restrained by two officers and moved to the hood of the car; a third officer joins the effort to restrain Morrison, who continues to resist arrest, and assists in putting Morrison in handcuffs. After the officers search Morrison, he is moved to the back seat of the officer's vehicle.
A conversation between the officer, Sheriff's Deputy Michael Arnold, and Morrison, can be heard. "Please let me go," Morrison pleads, telling Arnold "I'm not looking for any trouble."
"The beginning of that should have been not barking at my dog," Arnold replies.
After a subsequent conversation in which multiple officers discuss Morrison's identity, and his previous arrest, Arnold informs Morrison of why his actions warranted detainment and arrest.
"Let me simply explain something to you," Arnold said. "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. 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?"
After an inaudible reply from Morrison, Arnold adds this:
"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."
The video ends with an officer batting a bottle removed from Morrison's person off the hood of the car, potentially a violation of Florida statute 403.413, or the "Florida Litter Law."
Alachua County Sheriff Sadie Darnell also spoke with the Sun's Mari I. Opabola, telling her that Arnold should probably have given Morrison a warning for the incident.
During her interview Monday afternoon, 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.
"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.
Whether this will have any effect on Morrison's legal standing or status with the Florida football team remains to be seen, but the dashboard cam video appears to show, to my eye, minimal resisting of arrest without violence, and supports the allegation that Morrison barked — in his words, "made a 'woof-woof' sound" — at Arnold's police dog.
As we mentioned earlier, Florida State Attorney Bill Cervone has expressed doubts about whether the evidence is sufficient to charge Morrison with a crime.