According to a statement released by Florida State University quarterback De’Andre Johnson’s lawyer, the freshman Seminoles player is “extremely embarrassed” by the situation surrounding the recent release of a brutal surveillance video which shows the 19-year-old football player punching a woman in the face at a Tallahassee bar.
The five minute video, which was released by the Florida State Attorney’s Office on Monday, captures a violent altercation between Johnson and a woman at popular Tallahassee dance club, Yiannis.
In the video, the woman turns to Johnson and raises a fist after he appears to push past her to reach the crowded bar. After Johnson grabs the woman’s raised wrist, the woman pushes against Johnson with her foot and swings with her other fist. It is unclear if the woman made contact. Johnson responds by punching the left side of the woman’s face, causing her to stagger and her nose to bleed.
The woman was treated for swelling, bruises, and a cut, and appeared to have a black eye when she met with prosecutors on Tuesday, according to State Attorney Willie Meggs.
Johnson turned himself in to police last Tuesday after a warrant was issued for his arrest. He was charged with misdemeanor battery before being released on a $500 bond. The freshman, who was ranked the number three dual-threat quarterback in the country and rumored to be a contender for the FSU Seminole’s next starting lineup, was formally dismissed from the team within hours of the video release.
Despite the video’s graphic nature, and claims from Johnson’s attorney Jose Baez that Johnson is, “owning this” Johnson has yet to take full responsibility for the altercation and claims he was provoked by the woman’s raised fist and her alleged use of racially-charged language. “it is clear from the video that De’Andre Johnson was not the initial aggressor,” said Baez in a recent statement.
“De’Andre is extremely embarrassed by this situation and would like to express his heartfelt apologies to everyone, including those who were directly affected, Coach Fisher and his team mates, the entire Florida State University community, as well as his family and friends,” said Baez.
Johnson may be the most recent Seminoles name in the media for off-field actions, but he isn’t the first. The team has a history of criminal accusations, often followed by arguably questionable investigations on behalf of both the university and the Tallahassee Police.
In the case of Johnson, Tallahassee Police have been scrutinized for initially releasing a heavily redacted police report to the media in which the victim’s name, address, phone number, and other personal information was fully printed, while Johnson’s name was redacted in full. While the redaction may have been a matter of policy, due to the then-investigative status of the case, questions have been raised as to why the victim’s name was not also redacted if the case was in fact under open investigation at the time.
The state of the released record may be due in part to Florida’s unusually broad public record laws, which often do not protect victim identities. However, the reputation of Tallahassee Police has been on thin ice since a controversial investigation — which the New York Times described as “virtually no investigation at all” — into Florida State starting quarterback Jameis Winston, who was accused of rape by a former FSU student in 2012.
“An examination by The New York Times of police and court records, along with interviews with crime witnesses, has found that, far from an aberration, the treatment of the Winston complaint was in keeping with the way the police on numerous occasions have soft-pedaled allegations of wrongdoing by Seminoles football players,” said the New York Times in a 2014 investigation into the Seminole’s criminal record. “From criminal mischief and motor-vehicle theft to domestic violence, arrests have been avoided, investigations have stalled and players have escaped serious consequences.”
Nine Seminoles players were arrested between 2011 and 2014 on eight different occasions.
Katelyn Harrop is an intern with ThinkProgress.