- Mike DiRocco, ESPN Staff Writer
- 0 Shares
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Florida Gators linebacker Antonio Morrison has been arrested for the second time in five weeks, this time for allegedly barking at a police dog and resisting arrest, and will miss at least the first two games of the season after being suspended from the team Sunday.
Morrison's defense was the dog barked first, according to a police report.
According to an Alachua County Sheriff Office's report, police responded to a suspicious incident and disturbance call at 3:43 a.m. Sunday at a Gainesville hotel adjacent to a nightclub. While officer William A. Arnold was investigating the vehicle that was the subject of the call, a group of several men were walking along SW 13th Street.
One of the men reportedly approached the patrol car and began barking at his police dog through the open window. The report said that caused the dog, named Bear, to bark back at the man, which Arnold says in his report diverted his attention from investigating the vehicle.
The report says Arnold told the man -- later identified by his driver's license as Morrison -- to wait in front of his patrol car and the man resisted when Arnold tried to handcuff him. Two other officers arrived and helped detain Morrison, according to the report.
"I'm extremely disappointed in Antonio Morrison's decision making," Florida coach Will Muschamp said in a statement. "He has been suspended from the team and will miss at least two games to begin the season."
Alachua County Sheriff's spokesman Art Forgey said it's rare for someone to harass a canine officer.
"We don't see that very often at all," he said. "Gainesville Police Department has horses and they see it sometimes. Usually everybody steers clear of the dogs."
Later Sunday, Alachua County sheriff Sadie Darnell told The Gainesville Sun that Morrison should have been given a warning by the arresting officer instead of being arrested for barking at the dog. She also contended that Arnold was required to make a split-second decision at a moment rife with chaos.
"Our deputies are caught in a lot of threatening situations and are having to make rational, very well thought out decisions in the context of chaos, and sometimes they don't think them all the way through," Darnell said, as quoted by the Sun.
Morrison -- a 6-foot-1, 230-pound sophomore expected to be the Gators' starting middle linebacker this season -- told the officers he barked at the dog because the dog barked at him first.
He was booked into the Alachua County Jail at 4:15 a.m. ET.
Muschamp had previously said he hadn't decided whether to suspend Morrison as a result of a June 16 arrest for battery after he punched a nightclub bouncer because he was not given a discounted rate for admission. Muschamp said last Tuesday that Morrison was being punished inside the program for that transgression.
For that arrest, Morrison entered into a deferred prosecution, which stated he must pay $100 in prosecution costs and either an additional $150 or perform 12 hours of community service. He must also complete a University of Florida drug-and-alcohol abuse course, attend an anger-management course and participate in two eight-hour ride-alongs with the University of Florida Police Department.
If Morrison met those conditions within six months, the battery charge would be dismissed.
Gators linebacker Antonio Morrison has been arrested for the second time in five weeks, this time for allegedly barking at a police dog and resisting arrest, and will miss at least the first two games of the season after being suspended from the team.