The lawyer representing a former Florida State University quarterback, caught on video punching a woman in the face at a bar, claims that she provoked the assault by striking him twice and shouting racial slurs.
De’Andre Johnson, 19, an incoming freshman and standout high school football player, has been charged with battery following the June 24 incident at a Tallahassee bar, reported NBC News.
Attorney Jose Baez said that his client “tried to deescalate the situation” but the woman “kneed him in the groin area” and “took another swing before he retaliated.”
Baez told NBC News that the woman raised her fist and shouted “racial epithets” at Johnson when he unintentionally brushed up against her at the bar. The lawyer insists that the quarterback was not the aggressor, but is “owning this” and trying to make the best of a bad situation.
According to Jacksonville.com witnesses said the woman said “no” at Johnson twice before he punched her in the face. She endured bruises under her left eye, swelling to the left cheek, and a small cut near the bridge of her nose.
According to ESPN, FSU officials did not see the video of Johnson punching the female student until it appeared on the Tallahassee Democrat website on Monday. Football coach Jimbo Fisher viewed the video on Monday night after arriving home from a vacation. Shortly after watching it, he dismissed Johnson from the team.
Tuesday, Florida State President John Thrasher in a statement said that he fully supported the actions Fisher took in dismissing Johnson from the team.
“While it is always important to adhere to due process, having now seen the physical altercation captured on video, there is no question in my mind that Coach Fisher made the correct decisions,” Thrasher said. “I expect all students at Florida State University, including student-athletes, to adhere to the highest level of conduct. I have no tolerance for the kind of behavior exhibited in this case.”
Baez stated that Johnson wants to “learn from this experience and move on and get an education.” In an interview on NBC’s Today show, the lawyer said, “We certainly don’t want him to pay for the rest of his life for an incident that occurred in a bar.”