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Charges dropped against UF's Morrison for barking at police dog


Published:   |   Updated: July 23, 2013 at 06:29 PM

GAINESVILLE - State attorney Bill Cervone has dismissed all charges against Florida football player Antonio Morrison from an incident last Saturday in which he was arrested for barking at a police dog.

Cervone said the move was "based on the lack of evidence to warrant, much less sustain, those charges" in the arrest of Morrison. He added that police are not lawyers and not "fully aware of what the courts require."

Huntley Johnson, the attorney representing Morrison, on Tuesday lashed back at police over the arrest.

"I would not want to be a University of Georgia fan at the Florida-Georgia game next year when those people start getting down on all fours and barking because if there are K-9 units in the facility we're going to have a mass arrest," Johnson said.

The arrest got national attention because of its unusual nature but also because Morrison already had legal issues. He received a deferral of probation after hitting a Gainesville night club bouncer on June 16. The deferral included fines, community service and counseling over a six-month probationary period.

He was then given second-degree misdemeanor charges of resisting arrest without violence and harassing the police dog late Saturday.

UF coach Will Muschamp has already announced a two-game suspension for Morrison, expected to become the Gators' new starting middle linebacker.

The Gators open the 2013 at home against Toledo on Aug. 31 before traveling to Miami on Sept. 7.

Johnson was adamant in his criticism of the actions of Gainesville police towards his client.

"I think they were overzealous to the point it was embarrassing," Johnson told Florida Today.

Asked if he expected no further charges after consulting with the state attorney's office, Johnson added: "I think that you can say that."

According to police, Morrison walked up to an open window of a marked patrol vehicle Saturday and barked at a dog named Bear. The dog immediately started barking back at Morrison, and when 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. He was released on his own recognizance Sunday morning.

Cervone himself said he had concerns about the legality of the arrest on Sunday. He reviewed the video of the arrest and talked to officers before making a final decision. Cervone did note, however, that Morrison needs to consider what could have been. Charges could have revoked the deferral of the first charge and led to jail time.

"I would expect that Morrison has learned that being out at that hour of the night under those circumstances is setting himself up for a situation where he could risk and lose a great deal," Cervone said.

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