KNOXVILLE - A University of Tennessee football player this morning said he did nothing wrong during a bar brawl that resulted in an off-duty police officer being knocked unconscious in July.
Prosecutors apparently agreed with Da'Rick Rogers.
An agreement announced this morning before Knox County General Sessions Court Judge Chuck Cerny included the dismissal of a resisting arrest charge and the pending demise of a disorderly conduct offense. Both charges were filed after a fight July 9 at Bar Knoxville, 1820 Cumberland Ave.
Rogers, 19, agreed to perform 16 hours of community service on the disorderly conduct charge. Cerny on Oct. 27 is slated to recall the case for dismissal if Rogers has completed the community service work.
"When he was tackled outside the bar, he had no idea who was tackling him," Rogers' attorney, Don Bosch, told Cerny.
"You have to remember he had been sprayed in the face with pepper spray."
Rogers made no comment during the hearing.
Bosch said he will have the resisting arrest charged expunged today from Rogers' record and will seek to expunge the disorderly conduct charge when it is recalled next month.
"I have maintained my innocence from the moment I was arrested, and am thankful that I can finally put these matters behind me," Rogers said in a statement released this morning.
"I was present in Bar Knoxville at the time a fight broke out among other people, but I was not fighting or drinking."
Rogers' statement noted he was temporarily blinded by pepper spray administered to his face by a bar employee when grabbed from behind outside the business.
"At the time, I did not realize these people included police officers, and only became aware of that fact as I was being handcuffed," Rogers' said.
"I never intended to resist the officers who were attempting to arrest me."
Bosch said Rogers has no prior criminal record and characterized the charges against Rogers' as resulting from "being in the wrong place at the wrong time."
Police charged Rogers and Darren Myles Jr., 19, after the brawl, but neither was accused of assaulting Knoxville Police Department Officer Robert Capouellez, who was treated for several days at the University of Tennessee Medical Center.
Capouellez, 24, was off duty and not in uniform when the brawl erupted, according to Knoxville Police Department spokesman Darrell DeBusk.
Capouellez returned early last month to regular patrol duties. No one has been charged in connection with his assault. Capouellez was off-duty, in plain clothes and was a patron of the bar when the brawl erupted.
Rogers is a five-star wide receiver from Calhoun, Ga., High School who has been touted as the crown jewel of UT football coach Derek Dooley's first recruiting class.
Myles, a sophomore safety, was charged with assault, evading arrest and resisting arrest. He was kicked off the UT football team.
Myles was accused of assaulting UT Police Department Cpl. Brian Greenlee after the officer arrived at 2:04 a.m.
The bar brawl marked Myles' second encounter with local police.
He was arrested just hours after the April 17 Orange and White game. He was charged with public intoxication, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest after a 2:29 a.m. incident at Sobu, 6213 Kingston Pike. Club bouncers had removed Myles from the business, but he allegedly continued causing problems in the parking lot.
Myles was riding on the hood of a car when officers arrived, police said. Officers said he fought them when he was arrested, but no officers were injured.
Myles appeared Aug. 12 in court. He was given judicial diversion on the July 9 charges, which allows for expungement of the offenses if Myles stays out of trouble for two years. The plea agreement included dismissal of the April 17 charges.
The brawl began when Gary Russell, 20, was involved in an altercation with another customer, and "several additional patrons jumped into the fight," DeBusk said.
"Employees of the bar intervened and pushed the fight outside onto the sidewalk," DeBusk said. "Officer Capouellez intervened in an attempt to stop the fight when he was attacked."
Witnesses said Capouellez was hit in the head and knocked to the ground, where a suspect "kicked the officer several times before fleeing the scene," DeBusk said.
Russell, who was also taken to UT Medical Center for treatment, was released from the hospital.
Police detained six potential suspects for questioning after the brawl.
According to UT Police Department reports, players John Brown, 22; Matthew Milton, 18; Denarious Moore, 21; Myles Jr.; and Rogers were identified as possibly being involved in the beating of Capouellez.
Another man, identified in records as Jerran Talley, 19, of Athens, allegedly was with the group involved in the beating. Talley is not a UT student and has not been charged.
After the brawl, UT football coach Derek Dooley announced that two players not mentioned in police reports, Marlon Walls and Greg King had been suspended indefinitely. Dooley didn't provide specifics as to why the action was taken, saying only that the suspensions resulted "from my conversations with the student-athletes who were present."
Both were reinstated to the team, but Walls suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon and is out for the season.
Early in the probe police said they would not charge Milton in connection with the fight.
More details as they develop online and in Wednesday's News Sentinel.