Former LSU football standout La’el Collins met with Baton Rouge homicide detectives Monday morning, and he was scheduled to meet with officials from two NFL teams over the next 24 hours.
Collins’ meeting with police capped a week of speculation about when he would answer questions as part of an investigation into the killing of a 29-year-old woman and her baby. Police said Collins “fully cooperated with investigators and is still not considered a suspect” in the April 24 slaying of Brittney Mills and her son Brenton, who was successfully delivered after the shooting but died a week later.
Collins, now an undrafted free agent, had meetings scheduled with officials from the Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins for Monday night and Tuesday morning, a source close to Collins told The Advocate. Collins has received interest from “almost every” NFL team over the past few days and will likely meet with several teams over the next few days, the source said.
Collins and Bills coach Rex Ryan reportedly dined at Ruffino's in Baton Rouge on Monday night.
Rex Ryan and La'el Collins & family just walked out of Ruffino's Restaurant in Baton Rouge in last 10 minutes, after a dinner meeting.— Doug Mouton (@DMoutonWWL) May 5, 2015
News broke about detectives’ desires to meet with Collins early last week, two days before the offensive lineman was projected to be taken in the first round of the NFL draft. Even though Collins, 21, was identified merely as one of many people investigators wanted to speak with regarding Mills’ death, Collins’ draft stock plummeted. In the end, following a failed attempt by Collins’ agent to pull the lineman from this year’s draft, he was not picked.
Cpl. Don Coppola Jr., a Baton Rouge police spokesman, said detectives reached out to Collins’ family and his agent the day after Mills — described as an associate of Collins — was fatally shot. It wasn’t until last Tuesday when multiple media outlets posed questions about how Collins was connected to a murder investigation, that police said he was wanted for questioning.
“We were strictly responding to media requests,” Coppola said, describing why police said detectives wanted to interview Collins even though he was not a suspect or person of interest in Mills’ death.
Collins’ attorney, Jim Boren, said last week Collins hired a private investigator to prove the player was out of town April 24 and therefore could not have shot Brittney Mills.
Police said Monday they would not comment about Collins’ whereabouts on the day Mills was shot.
After the Monday morning meeting with police at the multi-jurisdictional Violent Crimes Unit inside State Police’s headquarters, Boren said his client answered all questions posed by homicide detectives.
“In my mind, he’s been cleared from the beginning,” Boren said.
Boren accompanied Collins during the interview, arriving in the same car as his client about 10 a.m. and leaving about 11:20 a.m.
“La’el is going to start making efforts to get his football career back on track,” Boren said, adding later, “we’re moving on.”
Police, Boren and one of Brittney Mills’ family members have declined to explain the full extent of the relationship between Mills and Collins, except to say some sort of relationship existed between the two. A source told The Advocate on Friday that Collins would soon take a paternity test that would show whether he was the father of Brenton Mills, but police said Monday they would not comment on the matter because of the ongoing investigation into the baby’s killing.
Dr. Beau Clark, East Baton Rouge Parish’s coroner, ruled Brenton Mills’ death a homicide Monday. The infant died of “probable hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy,” Clark said, describing it as brain destruction due to a lack of blood and oxygen.
A secondary cause of Brenton Mills’ death was the death of his mother. The infant was not hit directly by any bullet that struck his mother, Clark said.
Medical examiners are still awaiting histology and neuropathology reports in the death of the infant, Clark said.
Police do not have a suspect in the deaths of Mills and her baby. Authorities have asked anyone with information about the deaths to call police at (225) 389-4869 or Crime Stoppers at (225) 344-7867.
Advocate staff writer Ross Dellenger contributed to this report.