On October 5th at 2:30 a.m., a car driven by Florida State cornerback P.J. Williams turned across oncoming traffic and was struck. Williams and his two passengers—which included Ronald Darnby, FSU's other starting cornerback—fled the scene on foot. They later returned but Williams, who was driving with a suspended license, wasn't tested for alcohol. The police reports don't note whether Tallahassee police asked Williams whether he'd be drinking or why he and his passengers ran away, nor did it note that the airbag deployed in the other driver's car, cutting and bruising his hands. Williams was only given two tickets.
All of this is from a New York Times story, which follows up on their blockbuster report from last month detailing how Tallahassee and FSU police have protected Seminole football players for years. They don't investigate thoroughly, they don't include routine information in their reports, and they extend a benefit of the doubt that they rarely give other offenders.
Florida State officials and its police department, of course, are wrapped up in this case. Despite lacking jurisdiction, two University police officers showed up at the scene but, of course, didn't write a report or enter anything into their log because their role was "too minor." FSU officials responded to questions from the New York Times with "shifting answers," and at times factually incorrect ones.
In defending their handling of the case, Tallahassee police showed the Times seven other examples of cases where they could have, but declined to, charge a driver with a hit-and-run. The Times, in their polite just-the-facts way, calls bullshit:
A review of those cases, however, found that none was comparable in severity or circumstances to the Oct. 5 crash. Four involved cars bumping into each other in parking lots, one caused no damage at all, and the other two were very minor; in no case did a driver abandon a wrecked vehicle in the middle of the night and flee the scene after totaling someone else's car. Notably, most of the seven crash reports contained far more narrative detail about what happened than the report on the Oct. 5 accident.
There is also the possibility, though to be clear nothing close to solid evidence, that on the night of the crash the FSU players were involved in a gas station robbery. At almost the exact same time the crash occurred, a nearby Exxon was being broken into. An Exxon surveillance camera captured video of the crash, as well as the robber walking out with "an armload of merchandise" towards the corner were the accident occurred. The break-in remains unsolved.
Despite, or perhaps because of, receiving every break imaginable—and a few unimaginable—from police, P.J. Williams still can't keep from fucking up:
As for Mr. Williams, court records showed that two days after the accident, he paid $296 in overdue fines, related to an earlier speeding ticket, in order to get his license reinstated. But the $392 in fines related to the Oct. 5 crash remained unpaid, and overdue, as of this week. As a result, his license was suspended again.
Photo via Streeter Lecka/Getty