Antonio Morrison had been arrested for purportedly barking at a police dog and resisting arrest. Bizarre, right?
Well, the Florida state’s attorney thought so, too, and had the charges against the Florida linebacker dismissed after viewing a video of the incident, finding no grounds to apprehend Morrison.
“To be fair, law enforcement officers are not lawyers or fully aware of what the courts require. Nonetheless, and fair or not, their decisions must meet those standards,” said William Cervone, the state attorney. “The charge of interfering with a police animal requires malice, and none exists. lt also requires that the animal be engaged in some official duty, and it cannot be said that sitting in the back of a police cruiser in case he is needed constitutes being engaged in such activity by a police dog.
“As to the charge of resisting an officer, I challenge anyone who looks at the video of the incident to find any resistance, physical or otherwise, beyond questioning the actions of law enforcement, which is not illegal. Certainly, I see nothing that would allow or persuade a jury to convict.”
Cervone also said that Alachua County Sheriff’s Officer William A. Arnold should have used better judgment in the situation even if, as he said on the video, he was frustrated at what happened.
“In my office, I teach and we attempt to practice restraint,” Cervone said. “The power to do something as profound as depriving another person of liberty and subjecting him to all of the consequences of an arrest or prosecution cannot be abused, even when one’s patience is thin. After nearly 40 years as a prosecutor l understand the pressures that officers on the street deal with. Those pressures simply cannot be allowed to override common sense and the law, as they may have in this situation.”
Alachua County Sheriff Sadie Darnell agreed with Cervone and said Arnold shouldn’t have arrested Morrison.