Florida linebacker Antonio Morrison, shown during the spring practice for the Orange and Blue Debut at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on April 6, has been arrested twice this offseason, most recently for an unusual circumstance.
(Photo: Kim Klement, USA TODAY Sports)
GAINESVILLE, Florida - The second arrest of Florida linebacker Antonio Morrison late Saturday for allegedly barking at a police dog during an investigation is a misdemeanor but could actually be worse.
Morrison has been suspended and his future put in question as a result of the incident and an earlier settlement reached for a June arrest in which he was charged with punching a bouncer at a local night spot.
Gators coach Will Muschamp quickly announced "at least'' a two-game suspension for the player expected to become the team's new starting middle linebacker. State attorney Bill Cervone is looking into the matter, and because it's a second arrest in just more a month, there's a chance the deferral on his first charge after hitting a local night spot bouncer in June could be revoked.
Morrison, 19, was given second degree misdemeanor charges of resisting arrest without violence and harrassing an on-duty animal after he barked at the dog.
He was back in court Sunday, when a judge released him on his own recognizance.
According to police. Morrison walked up to an open window of a marked patrol vehicle and barked at a dog named "Bear.'' The dog immediately started barking back at Morrison, according to police. When the police attempted to handcuff Morrison, he initially resisted.
Morrison told police the dog made a "woof-woof'' sound at him and he was barking back.
Morrison was released on his own recognizance Sunday morning.
Cervone is uncertain where this second incident could lead, saying on Sunday: "Based on my initial review ... I am concerned about the legality of the arrest.''
To make an arrest for disturbing a police action there must me some element of malicious interference. The second charge of resisting arrest cannot be applied if the initial arrested is ruled unlawful.
Cervone did say, however, that if Morrison faces charges this time, it could be very serious.
"My office will look into this as expeditiously as possible,'' he said. "If there is a crime involved then the previous deferral is subject to revocation. If not then that will not likely happen unless there is some other material breech.''
That means Morrison could be looking at possible jail time if the deferral is lifted.
Muschamp, who said last week during the SEC Media Days he had not decided what penalties Morrison would face as far as any lost playing time after the first offense, released a statement Sunday in which he said: "I'm extremely disappointed in Antonio Morrison's decision making. He has been suspended from the team and will miss at least two games to begin the season.''
Morrison's first legal issues came on June 16 after allegedly striking the bouncer and his deferral included fines, community service and counseling over a six month probationary period which is far from over.
David Jones covers University of Florida athletics for Florida Today, a Gannett company.
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