LSU players meet with police
BATON ROUGE, La. -- LSU starting quarterback Jordan Jefferson and three teammates met Tuesday with investigators looking into a bar fight that injured four people, and police said they were cooperative.
"They did not invoke the fifth amendment. They gave their side of the story," Baton Rouge police chief Dewayne White said. "They provided additional witnesses they knew were there that night, and those were witnesses we intend to run down and get their statement."
The most seriously injured victim has three broken vertebrae, White said. There have been no arrests and no charges have been filed, but White stressed that police hope to gather enough evidence to arrest whoever is responsible for the victims' injuries.
Baton Rouge Police completed searching Jefferson's apartment Wednesday, USA Today reported, and left with several bags of items to "help prove or disprove the allegations against him," Sgt. Don Stone said, adding that investigators had "enough probable cause" for the search.
If arrests are made, charges could range from misdemeanor simple battery to felony second-degree battery, Stone said.
Jefferson, offensive lineman Chris Davenport, linebacker Josh Johns and receiver Jarvis Landry were interviewed separately at State Police headquarters during a span of several hours.
Since being named as people of interest in last Thursday night's fight, the four players have hired defense attorney Nathan Fisher. He attended the meetings with police along with his associate, Shannon Fay.
"We gave police as many names of (bar) employees as we knew," Fisher said by phone after the meetings. "It comes down to, they have to do their investigation and we have to do ours, and we have offered to share our information with them."
The fight occurred in the parking lot of a bar called Shady's on the edge of campus.
Fisher declined to discuss the alleged version of events at the bar, saying only that he has obtained video that shows "four separate incidents" related to the fight, three of which occurred outside the bar and one inside. Police have said the fight erupted after a driver honked his horn at a group of people in the parking lot. The driver was also one of the people involved in the fight.
While Fisher said he had no problems with the way police treated his clients, he added that the players appeared somewhat "shaken" during the interviews.
"None of them had ever been through anything like this," he said.
Fourth-ranked LSU opens its season on Sept. 3 against No. 3 Oregon at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
While Davenport, Johns and Landry are reserves and were not expected to play much in the season opener, Jefferson was expected to start. If he cannot play, fellow senior Jarrett Lee would likely start behind center, with junior college transfer Zach Mettenberger next in line.
For now, however, coach Les Miles is not ready to exclude Jefferson from the game plan. In a scrimmage on Tuesday afternoon, Jefferson and Lee split work with the first team and both threw well, Miles said.
Miles acknowledged coaches were concerned about the timeframe of the investigation and have a plan to deal with it but added he was not ready to share his plan with the public and, by extension, the Ducks.
"That's a good question and certainly something that we've thought about," Miles said. "I'm just not ready to be forthcoming there."
"We have a diversity in our attack, and I think that's the good news," Miles added. "We're not really having to reconstruct. I think we just maybe lean on pieces more than others."
Police said they could not predict how long the investigation may take, but they were not optimistic it would be wrapped up soon.
"Until we're able to sift through the evidence, sift through the statements and arrive at the truth, that may take some time," White said. "Will we give fast results? We will not, because it doesn't work like that."
Police have video from the scene, White said, but it does not show the fight itself.
White said police also need to find more "objective" witnesses.
"Right now we have conflicting statements from parties at the scene. We have conflicting statements that support one version over the version of the LSU players," White said. "What we don't have is a version of an objective third party that has absolutely no ties to either party involved in this incident, and we don't have conclusive video evidence that would support either claim."
The four victims, who were not football players, were treated at a hospital and released.
White said one of the victims had contusions on his head, nose and hands, although it was not clear whether the hand injuries were from throwing punches or trying to protect himself.
The chief also said witnesses have said they saw more than 20 LSU players at the scene and that police intend to interview some of them as well.
Miles said he can sense the matter has affected team morale.
"Our guys are a little weighed down by this. I think we all are," the coach said. "There's a little bit more seriousness in our tone. I think light laughter is not something that's happened too much around our practice field and that hurts your preparation, ultimately, if you like to work hard and smile."
"The team is remorseful," Miles added. "This team is going to pay a terrible price, and certainly, again, we understand this is a team that is followed so closely by people that love it, and I hope it does not become a divisive piece. I can only tell you that our guys are sick about it, and they're looking to make restitution as best they can."
One thing White made clear, however, was that apologies and remorse would not be enough to make the matter fade away any time soon.
"This case is far from over," White said. "We owe it to (those injured in the fight) and each and every citizen of the City of Baton Rouge to do whatever necessary to bring the perpetrator of this crime to justice. ... Whether we will have sufficient evidence to do that, that's yet to be seen. It's our hope and our aim that we are able to gather enough evidence to support obtaining an arrest warrant and charging someone in this case."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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