Not only has Historic City News learned that an NFL player, 28-year-old Maurice Christopher Jones-Drew, has denied any involvement in an altercation alleged on Sunday, May 26, at the Conch House, but also have learned that his accuser has hired an attorney.
In a classic case illustrating the dangers of reporting “hot news”, television and newspaper reporters in Jacksonville attempted to push the local police department for information about the Jaguars football player’s alleged assault of a private security guard assigned to a heavily-attended Sunday event at the popular bar and restaurant on Anastasia Island.
A premature press release that contained some poor choices of words, and a copy of a raw complaint, intended to be communicated to the local State Attorney, made their way into the hands of Jacksonville media; and, consequently, correspondent reporters across the wire services.
And, of course, we are not talking about any, routine Reggae Sunday, either — we are talking about the three-day Memorial Day Weekend Sunday when police management that would have likely better-worded the press release and properly clarified the intended use of the citizen complaint, were not at work.
The patrolmen who were busily attempting to collect witness statements and evidence, coordinate emergency medical services from the scene, and provide safe control of the crowd of people attending, were more focused on attempting to memorialize as much of the incident as possible — than worried about every nuance of their choice of words. As has been the practice of the St Augustine Police Department in the past, the patrolmen had every expectation that the details would be sorted out by the investigators during the course of their investigation — which could be several days later.
Unfortunately, because of the high public profile of Jones-Drew, the poorly worded initial and preliminary reports led to sensational headlines on the national stage.
Just as there are two sides to the account of the incident, there are two sides to its consequences — criminal and civil. If the State Attorney, or a grand jury, finds sufficient evidence to prosecute Jones-Drew, his attorney, Hank Coxe, could defend him at trial. News that the injured security guard has also hired an attorney, Patrick Canan, gives rise to the potentiality of a civil claim for damages resulting from the alleged battery.
Historic City News is continuing to follow the ongoing investigation.