We were sent this image purporting to be of the good samaritan, returning from Marine Corps training, who rushed to break up a Baton Rouge bar fight and ended up getting pummeled by at least four LSU players. We've been unable to confirm—the cops have instituted a media blackout, to the extent that they can in a college town when the college's stars are involved. But the EXIF data in the photograph, and the East Boyd Plaza sign in the background place it in the right time and place: the parking lot of Shady's Bar, early Friday morning. It's no surprise, then, that LSU has enlisted one of the most powerful lawyers in the state.
What went down at Shady's? Facts are scarce. We know that at least four LSU players, all of whom were supposed to be tucked in for the night, were there after sneaking out of the dorms.
"At the 10:30 p.m. check-in Thursday night all players were accounted for," said coach Les Miles. "The ones who were at Shady's Bar at 1:30 a.m. broke curfew."
The Times-Picayune's Jim Kleinpeter reports that "about 50" players broke curfew that night, a tradition for the final day of camp.
Starting quarterback Jordan Jefferson, Jarvis Landry, Chris Davenport and Josh Johns met with police for two hours yesterday to answer questions and give their side of the story, a story that's been colored by rumor after rumor. But no one's yet contradicted the initial account:
Several people who claim to have witnessed the incident tell 9NEWS that around 2 a.m. Friday, a young man driving a truck blew his horn to get a group of people blocking the driveway to move out of the way at Shady's Bar on East Boyd Ave. That's when they say a group of people pulled the driver out of the truck and began beating him. That's when they say a Marine who had just returned from training ran to assist the driver and was beaten and thrown to the ground. Multiple people who claim to have witnessed the incident tell 9NEWS LSU quarterback Jordan Jefferson then kicked the Marine in the head.
Police later confirmed only that among the four injured, a Marine was knocked unconscious and suffered contusions to his head, nose and hands. (UPDATE: WBRZ is identifying the injured man as Andrew Lowery.) The latest BRPD news release remains sorely lacking in detail.
We don't want to rush to judgment, because Marines are just as adept as football players as being "tough drunks" and getting into bar fights. But multiple witnesses have told police the same story. Sensing the extent of the trouble (and the PR nightmare: someone kicked a United States Marine in the face, for god's sake), LSU has called in their secret weapon: attorney Nathan Fisher.
Fisher has been the go-to lawyer for Tiger athletes in trouble—always pro bono. Not this time. Wary of the NCAA's enforcers on top of the actual legal troubles, the school has insisted that this time, Fisher will be paid for his services.
"Our compliance staff talked and they were not comfortable with that," LSU spokesman Herb Vincent said. "He's representing them and he's going to have to bill them. The method of payment is still to be determined."
Fisher's got his work cut out for him, but he's up to the challenge. Five years ago he was able to clear a suspect in the Danziger Bridge shootings, the post-Katrina nightmare where police opened fire on unarmed and innocent New Orleans residents.
This is a very different case. This is football players being accused of throwing punches in the parking lot of a seedy, shitty college bar. So naturally, while an investigation continues, a trial is already being played out on the internet. The denizens of the Tiger Droppings board, always a valuable font of crowdsourcing, are predictably defensive, consecrating witnesses with stories that conflict with the inital account. Meanwhile, a Jordan Jefferson fan page on Facebook is under constant attack, from fans of rival schools as well as Marines. (Sample post: "The blood of this brotherhood runs deep and never forgets. Watch yourself boy. And we will watch when they come for you, and they will.") We hope police announce their findings soon, because this is being treated with all the reasonableness afforded to most college football scandals; which is to say, very little.