LSU senior quarterback Jordan Jefferson and sophomore linebacker Joshua Johns were arrested Friday morning and accused of kicking a man while he was lying on the ground during a fight last week outside a Baton Rouge bar.
Jefferson and Johns, both 21, were suspended indefinitely from the university’s football team after surrendering to authorities and being booked into East Baton Rouge Parish Prison on one count each of second-degree battery.
Both players posted a $5,000 bond and were released.
“As sad as this incident is, it’s important that we learn from this and that we take away a valuable lesson,” LSU coach Les Miles said in a news release following the arrests. “This has weighed on all us. It’s time for us to come together as a team and focus on what we are here to do.”
Miles also emphasized the emotional impact of the day’s events on the team at a news conference later Friday.
“Certainly this is a tough time for the team,” Miles said. “They see a teammate in peril.”
Miles addressed the team before practice about the situation and said “there were tears and it was hard on them. Not many believed that (arrests) would be the outcome. It took some time for them to understand what was going on.”
The LSU Board of Supervisors, amid Friday’s tumultuous events, agreed unanimously to changes in Miles’ contract. They will keep his nearly $3.8 million annual base pay, but increase his bonus opportunities, and extend his contract.
New attorneys hired
Jefferson and Johns hired new, separate Baton Rouge attorneys Friday afternoon.
Jefferson hired Lewis Unglesby and Johns hired Tommy Damico, the attorneys said.
Unglesby said he believes Jefferson “did not kick anyone in the face.” Jefferson is accused of doing so in the warrant for his arrest.
“I think that we need to all take a deep breath and relax,” Unglesby said. “This is college students acting like college students on both sides. I don’t buy into the word ‘victim’ at all.”
Based on the information he has reviewed related to Johns’ case, Damico said he is surprised his client Johns was arrested.
Damico said he does not believe his client is guilty or that his client was involved in the fight.
The arrest warrants for Jefferson and Johns accuse each player of kicking a man while he was lying on the ground during a fight outside Shady’s bar, 623 E. Boyd Drive, on Aug. 19.
The man who was kicked suffered “extreme physical pain and unconsciousness,” the warrants say.
The warrants say the basis for the arrests of Jefferson and Johns includes “physical evidence of the attack and subsequent identification of the accused by an eye witness to the attack.”
“They’ve ruined the kids’ careers,” the players’ initial attorney Nathan Fisher said Friday. “We’ll see what we can do to, you can’t rectify it, but to help the situation.”
Fisher said he is not sure of the status of the other two football players implicated in the fight — freshman Jarvis Landry, 18, and sophomore Chris Davenport, 21.
“That’s up to the police,” Fisher said.
City Police spokesman Sgt. Donald Stone refused to comment when contacted Friday night about the status of Landry and Davenport.
Michael P. Bienvenu, an attorney representing four men treated at a hospital because of the fight, said in a written statement that the situation has been difficult “for everyone involved.”
“As this matter proceeds further, my clients are confident that this matter will continue to be investigated thoroughly by the police and that the East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney’s Office will ensure that the ends of justice are served for all parties involved,” Bienvenu said.
Baton Rouge Police Chief Dewayne White said in a brief statement at a Friday news conference that the East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney’s Office will receive in “several days” his department’s findings.
“Today is a sad day for the city of Baton Rouge,” White said. “Today is a sad day for the Louisiana State University, the LSU alumni and the countless fans that follow the Tiger football program. It is also a sad day for the Baton Rouge Police Department.”
White took no questions and said the department would have no further comment on evidence gathered.
D.A. may hand off to grand jury
East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore III said he will consider bringing the case before a grand jury instead of deciding whether to charge the players.
Moore said it could be weeks before he makes a decision because he has to review information from police and possibly conduct a follow-up investigation.
If the case is primarily based on contradictory statements from witnesses, Moore said the best way to secure the truth might be to bring it before a grand jury.
“That’s the only way to get witness statements under oath,” he said, adding that the case has been assigned to state District Judge Chip Moore.
Criminal defense attorney and former East Baton Rouge Parish prosecutor Brent Stockstill said bringing a battery case to a grand jury is “somewhat unusual.”
“It’s not common but not unheard of either,” Stockstill said Friday.
Charges are usually filed by prosecutors in battery cases instead of bringing the case before a grand jury, he said. However, in high profile cases, a grand jury can be called to hear the case, he said.
“In a high profile case you could present it to a grand jury to remove any appearance of bias from the D.A.,” Stockstill said.
Andrew Lowery, one of the men injured in the fight, and witnesses to last week’s brawl have given differing accounts of what took place and how it started.
Lowery, a Marine, said Jefferson and Johns beat him in the fight, a police report says. Victoria Long, a witness, gave police a similar account saying she saw Jefferson kick Lowery in the head, the report says.
Two other witnesses, who are also Shady’s employees, told The Associated Press that Lowery “threw the first punch” shortly after he was escorted outside by some of the bar’s staff.
Police received a call about the incident just after 1:30 a.m., the police report says. When they arrived at Shady’s no one involved in the fight was there.
Police searched Jefferson’s off-campus apartment Wednesday, seizing 49 pairs of tennis shoes, including the ones he was wearing during the fight, police said.
Police also obtained DNA from Jefferson during the search of his apartment.
LSU off the field
JUNE 5: A man allegedly points a gun at quarterback Zach Mettenberger and defensive end Sam Montgomery during an argument in a parking lot outside the players’ apartments. Two men not on the team were arrested.
JULY 14: LSU said several members of its coaching staff were interviewed by an NCAA official about their dealings with Willie Lyles, who ran a college scouting service under NCAA investigation. Last year, LSU paid $6,000 to Lyles for information on potential recruits.
JULY 19: The NCAA places the LSU football program on one-year probation for “major violations” in connection with the recruitment of Akiem Hicks and thousands of impermissible recruiting phone calls.
JULY 21: LSU removes wide receiver Russell Shepard from a scheduled appearance at the Southeastern Conference Media Days after a compliance issue surfaces regarding Shepard’s housing situation.
AUG. 4: One day into fall camp, quarterbacks coach Steve Kragthorpe relinquishes his offensive coordinator responsibilities after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Offensive line coach Greg Studrawa is named acting offensive coordinator.
AUG. 19: An early morning fight breaks out outside of a bar near campus and several LSU players, including quarterback Jordan Jefferson, are implicated. All of the players on hand broke curfew to be at the bar.
WEDNESDAY: Police execute a search warrant on Jefferson’s apartment, obtaining a DNA sample and other evidence.
THURSDAY: Shepard is declared indefinitely ineligible for violating an NCAA regulation.
FRIDAY: Jefferson and linebacker Josh Johns are arrested and charged with second-degree battery, a felony. LSU coach Les Miles suspends both players indefinitely.