By: Andy Slater
(Update: Responses from police chief and Walton's attorney can be found at bottom)
All charges against Miami Hurricanes running back Mark Walton, including DUI, were dropped on Monday morning. Now, his attorney is responding, revealing critical details that he says arresting officers did not want the public to know.
I spoke exclusively with Walton's attorney, Joey McCall. He came out firing with claims of bizarre behavior by specific police officers. Part of the allegations stem from the night Walton was arrested, April 23. The other part of the story started a few days earlier for the running back.
Walton, 19, was also accused of impersonating a police officer and allegedly groping a female victim on the side of a Miami road. Charges, though, were never filed.
"We learned with our own investigation that at least two City of Miami officers, through the alleged victim, lured Mark over to a house, were hidden when he got there, and then rushed him with guns drawn," McCall said. "One officer came from inside the house and the other officer came from around the side of the house.
"Mark was literally terrified and as a result cooperated with whatever he was made to do," McCall said. "All he could think about was trying to stay alive."
The house that McCall mentions is where Walton's accuser lives.
"When Mark arrived, she came out of the house, he stepped out of his car, and then she immediately went back in without saying anything," McCall said. "That's when the cops came out with their guns drawn."
So, why were there cops at her house waiting for Walton as McCall described?
"We learned from other officers within the City of Miami police department that the arresting officers, among others, were essentially conducting a warrantless sting operation that they were not assigned to do and weren't asked to participate in," McCall said. "Based on additional information we received, the alleged victim and at least one of the arresting officers have a personal relationship of some kind and knew each other prior to April 23."
"Most likely when Mark got to the house and they realized there was nothing to support an impersonating an officer charge, they had to arrest him for something," McCall claimed.
Charges were dropped against Walton Monday morning, but McCall said the State Attorney's Office contacted him last week about a deal.
"What's more disturbing is that the State Attorney's Office was advised of everything the arresting officers did, through closed door interviews, "McCall stated. "Instead of dropping the charges earlier, the assistant state attorney handling this case contacted my office just days ago asking if Mark would accept a plea agreement to a lesser charge that didn't fit what occurred. We vehemently said no."
The State Attorney's Office is now done with this case --- but the running back's attorneys aren't.
"This situation is far from over," McCall said. "Based on what we've learned and as people within the police department become more forthcoming, the actions of the arresting officers and possibly even the State Attorney's Office could support the pursuit of civil remedies for wrongful arrest and malicious prosecution."
The Hurricanes suspended Walton indefinitely just hours after his arrest.
McCall said it was because of a phone call police made to the Miami athletic department with erroneous information.
"The City of Miami called UM and told them that Walton was going to be charged with two felonies, impersonating an officer and battery," McCall said. "It was based on that information that UM initially suspended Walton indefinitely, pending the outcome of the case."
I had the exclusive opportunity last month to sit down with Walton's other attorney, Ricky Patel, who showed me text messages between Walton and his accuser.
"Mark was helping this girl on the side of the road, not harming her," Patel said.
Patel claimed Walton was the victim and now McCall gives a few more details.
"Mark's accuser was coming home from a party at approximately 4 a.m. and she had been drinking, "McCall said. "Mark noticed her swerving all over the road and wanted to make sure she was okay. We learned that she almost hit him and he was concerned that essentially she was a danger to everyone on the road."
The Hurricanes reinstated Walton in May, as I reported, when they began to learn more details of his case. The school never gave an official update on his status at the time. On Monday night, Miami made it official that Walton is no longer suspended, citing the dropped charges.
"I think when people see Mark, they see a big, strong football player who's silent and doesn't really complain about anything," McCall said. "They don't take into account that he's only 19 and still learning how to deal with all of this negative attention while remaining focused on school and football."
The State Attorney's Office issued a memo Monday afternoon saying "after a thorough review of evidence, there is not sufficient evidence to prove the charges beyond and to the exclusion of every reasonable doubt."
The City of Miami police department's chief, Rodolfo Llanes, responded to the allegations on Tuesday.
McCall said the chief's response was "insulting to the citizens of Miami."
"The chief's statement is inconsistent with the information that has been made available to the public from the arrest affidavit, the State Attorney's close-out memo, and from the documented facts," McCall said. "Instead of an apology to Mark, an innocent victim, the police chief has decided to carry on this travesty."
(Wed. July 13, 10:00a) Mark Walton and his attorney will be holding a press conference on Wednesday afternoon. They will be releasing text messages from his accuser and officially filing complaint with Miami Police internal affairs. Walton will also take questions at the press conference.
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