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Terming an encounter with Knoxville police a misunderstanding, Tennessee football center Josh McNeil met with media this afternoon and explained his side of the incident that occurred early Sunday morning at his residence.
Several hours after the University of Tennessee football team thumped Louisiana-Lafayette Saturday, McNeil was quizzed by police about a broken window at his apartment and the three intoxicated women in his bed.
McNeil, 20, a junior from Collins, Miss., was not charged by police investigating reports of a burglary at McNeil's apartment, but his three female visitors didn't fare as well. The three women were charged with underage consumption of an alcoholic beverage, said Knoxville Police Department spokesman Darrell DeBusk.
DeBusk said the incident this weekend began at 1:36 a.m. when a resident of Woodmeade South Apartments in South Knoxville called E-911 to report a possible burglary. The resident said he heard the sound of glass breaking at a nearby apartment.
The first officer to arrive found a smashed rear window at 268 Highwood Court, where McNeil resides. Blood was visible around the frame of the broken window, DeBusk said.
"A potted plant had been thrown through the window," DeBusk said.
As the officer awaited for backup officers to arrive, voices of a man and a woman arguing were heard in the apartment, DeBusk said. When more officers arrived, they pounded on the front door of the apartment, but got no response.
DeBusk said the officers opted to enter the apartment through the broken window. Once inside, they found several rifles, shotguns and a handgun, but no one greeted them.
Police cleared the apartment with the exception of a locked bedroom, DeBusk said. No one responded to officers' knocks on the bedroom door or demands to open the door.
At that time, DeBusk said, UT Director of High School Relations Gerald Harrison appeared at the scene. DeBusk said Harrison, "in a normal speaking voice" asked that the bedroom door be opened and it was.
DeBusk said officers handcuffed McNeil and began questioning him and his three female friends.
"Everybody was uncooperative and everybody denied any knowledge of the broken window or of any arguing," DeBusk said.
Police noted the 6-foot-4, 280-pound McNeil had bleeding cuts on his arm, but the Vol denied anything to do with the broken window.
"He refused to cooperate," DeBusk said of McNeil.
DeBusk identified the three women cited on charges of underage consumption as Alexis Cohen, 19, who attends Virginia Tech; Allison Parker, 18, of Alexandria, Va., who also attends Virginia Tech; and Sarah Brown, 19, of Knoxville, who attends UT.
All said they had been sleeping.
At the media session today, McNeil explained that he had taken the drug Ambien, a sleep aid that was prescribed for him.
The three girls in the room were his girlfriend and two of her friends, who were sleeping on the floor of his room, coach Phillip Fulmer said.
McNeil said he had forgotten his keys and did use a flower pot to break the window.
Fulmer said that McNeil is an avid hunter, explaining why the guns were in the apartment.
After reading from the statement, McNeil expressed his displeasure with media coverage of the incident.
He said he understands the fact that he is a public figure makes him more in the public eye, but is primarily upset that his girlfriend was mentioned in stories.
McNeil had been suspended from five spring practices this year after being cited in March by police on charges of underage consumption of alcohol and public intoxication.
Citing that McNeil was not arrested, Tiffany Carpenter, UT athletic department public relations director, said UT is not planning any disciplinary measures against McNeil.
McNeil's encounter in March with police occurred during a birthday party for a teammate at Cube, a club at 1701 Cumberland Ave. A judge dismissed the public intoxication charge in June and ordered McNeil to perform 40 hours of community service and pay court costs in relation to the underage consumption charge. The underage consumption charge was to be dismissed if McNeil didn't get into further trouble for the next six months.
More details as they develop online and in Wednesday's News Sentinel.