Second suspect arrested in Jeremy Hill bar fight incident
[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he attorney for LSU running back Jeremy Hill said her client was heckled about his past legal trouble in the moments prior to an incident that led to his arrest for battery.
A cell phone video captured by a witness at the scene reportedly showed Hill punching a man from behind and later celebrating with a second, unknown man who knocked the victim out with a second punch. The witness identified Hill as one of the assailants and police used the video to later arrest him near his apartment.
Attorney Marci Blaze says that while Hill is one of the men shown on the video, the video itself does not tell the whole story.
“There’s no denying he’s on the video, but the video is 15 seconds long and certainly doesn’t tell you everything that happened that evening,” Blaize told the AP on Thursday. “In my experience and the cases I’ve had, there’s usually a reason why a person will strike another individual and I can tell you that’s the case here.”
According to the police report, the video shows Hill exchanging “high fives” with the second suspect and others after the man they punched was on the ground. The video itself is considered evidence and not yet public record, but Blaize said her client denies knowing the second suspect.
“The video is clear that they approach the victim at different times,” Blaize said. “They’re not working in tandem. You can tell they don’t know each other.”
At the time of his arrest, police have said Hill admitted to being at the Tigerland bar where the incident occurred but denied involvement, even after being shown the video. Blaize told the AP that she said she could not speak for Hill as to what exactly he said to the arresting officers and would not speculate about why the officers interpreted his statements the way they did.
Baton Rouge Police are still working to identify the second suspect, but said that it does not appear to be an LSU athlete.
“We’re making progress toward identifying a second suspect, and while I cannot rule out some connection to the LSU athletic department, based on what we know now, there does not appear to be one,” Lt. Don Kelly said.
Blaize plans to conduct witness interviews in coming days to help paint a more complete picture of the events leading up to the altercation.
East Baton Rouge district attorney Hillar Moore has stated that it could take four to six weeks to determine whether or not his office will pursue formal charges.
On Monday, LSU coach Les Miles indefinitely suspended Hill, who is currently out on bond. Miles stated that he will not comment further on the situation until the legal process has run its source.
A sophomore from Baton Rouge, Hill was LSU’s leading rusher last season. He finished 2012 with 755 yards and 12 touchdowns, despite playing in just four of the Tigers’ first six games.
Hill is currently serving two-years probation for a his role in an incident that occurred a month before he was originally set to sign with LSU in 2011.
Authorities claimed that Hill and another Redemptorist High student pressured a 14-year-old girl to perform oral sex. He eventually pleaded guilty to carnal knowledge of a juvenile, a misdemeanor.
Hill was expelled from school and finished high school through home-school, and signed with LSU in February 2012.
UPDATE 7:20 p.m.: Baton Rouge police have arrested the second man involved in the bar fight, and he has no connection to the LSU football program.
Robert G. Bayardo, 20, was arrested Friday afternoon at his home without incident on one count of second-degree battery and booked into the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison.
“LSU police assisted us the best they could, and from there we got the information we needed to identify the second suspect,” Cpl. L’Jean McKneely told the Baton Rouge Advocate.
According to an affidavit, two “independent witnesses” identified Bayardo as the man who struck the victim in the back of the head, and picked Bayardo out of a six-person photo lineup. Bayardo was being held Friday evening in lieu of $5,000 bond.
No formal charges have been filed against either individual, and East Baton Rouge Parish D.A. Hillar Moore reiterated that it could be weeks before a decision has been made.
“We’ll have to wait and get the reports and make a decision on what the appropriate charges are, like any other case,” Moore told the New Orleans Times-Picayuneon Friday. “It will be several weeks, probably longer. it takes a while to get the file and all of the records and all of the reports, video and statements.”
According to the Times-Picayune, Hill’s availability for next season is very much in doubt. He could have his suspension revoked and will likely be called back before District Judge Bonnie Jackson for a review of his probation, the paper said.
Photo credit: Gerald Herbert / AP