Cleveland Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. was charged with simple battery for slapping a police officer on the buttocks.
The incident happened on Monday in a locker room after Beckham’s alma mater, LSU, beat Clemson 42-25 in the college football national championship game. The game took place at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans.
A video of the slap went viral, and it reportedly began after the officer told celebrating LSU players to put out their victory cigars. NOLA.com. confirmed the officer is a lieutenant who works for Mercedes-Benz Superdome, and he was trying to enforce the venue’s no-smoking policy.
The 48-year-old officer told police that he wanted to punch Beckham Jr. in retaliation but kept himself from doing so. The man said he was thinking about arresting the NFL player as well but resisted “Due to the jovial atmosphere of the locker room.”
At one point, Beckham Jr. stood behind the officer, gave the slap and seemingly began to taunt him. Initially, the New Orleans Police Department wanted to charge the 27-year-old with misdemeanor sexual battery, but Magistrate Court Commissioner Melvin Zeno shot that down.
“The elements of the crime did not rise to that of sexual battery but rather that of a simple battery,” said Zeno.
The Cleveland Browns have already issued a statement and said, “We are aware of the incident and have been in touch with Odell and his representatives on the matter. They are cooperating with the proper authorities to appropriately address the situation.”
Beckham Jr. is also surrounded by another controversy from Monday night, because he was seen giving cash to LSU players on the field after the game. LSU has contacted the NCAA and the Southeastern Conference over the money in case any rules were broken.
At this time, it hasn’t been confirmed whether the money Beckham Jr. handed out was real or fake.
So far, a lot of people have weighed in on the slapping incident and warrant.
“What the hell the cop doing policing the locker room?” someone asked on Twitter.
“This is an overreaction,” another person stated.
UPDATE: On Saturday, Jan. 18, the New Orleans Police Department said the officer who was slapped “Has decided to drop the charge,” and a warrant issued on Thursday for Beckham has been cancelled.
“Absent a complaining witness, this is not a case our office intends to pursue,” said a spokesman for the Orleans Parish District Attorney on Saturday.