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NYTimes Questions Hit-and-Run Involving 2 FSU Football Players

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By Daniel Taylor, Esq. on November 14, 2014 3:37 PM

The New York Times has released details of an investigation into whether two Florida State University football players were given preferential treatment by police after a hit-and-run accident this fall.

On October 5, a starting cornerback for the FSU Seminoles, P.J. Williams, was driving with the team's other cornerback, Ronald Darby, along with an unidentified passenger. At 2:37 a.m., Williams crashed into an oncoming vehicle driven by a teenager, totaling both vehicles.

Williams and his passengers then ran off; when Williams eventually returned to the scene, he was issued two relatively minor traffic tickets and not charged with hit-and-run, the Times reports.

NYT TackIes Many Legal Questions

The Times' investigation into the incident and the response by Tallahassee and Florida State University police uncovered a number of notable facts. Here are some highlights:

  • Williams was not charged with hit-and-run despite fleeing the scene and not returning for approximately 20 minutes, according to police (though there is evidence that the players were gone for a longer period of time). However, a non-Florida State football player involved in a similar but less serious crash in the same area was charged with hit-and-run last month.
  • Williams was not tested for possible intoxication or questioned about his possible alcohol or drug use, despite the crash occurring at 2:37 a.m.
  • Williams' driver's license was suspended at the time of the crash. He did get a ticket for driving with a suspended license, but the officer noted in his report that Williams did this "unknowingly."
  • The incident did not appear in the Tallahassee Police Department's online database. The department told the Times there was a "technical glitch."
  • University police, including the shift commander, responded -- despite not having jurisdiction. However, FSU police filed no report on the incident.
  • An unidentified football player reportedly apologized to the other driver involved in the crash before being told by a female friend to be quiet because "you sound like you've been drinking."

Williams, the defensive MVP of last season's national championship game, was reportedly picked up at the scene by FSU's director of player development.

Reaction and Consequences

The investigation into Williams' crash isn't new territory for the Times, which has tackled the issue of FSU football players' treatment by police in prior articles. It seems at least a few FSU football fans don't like this attention; on Twitter, they got the latest Times article flagged as spam for a short time Friday, according to Sports Illustrated.

As for Williams, who was only ticketed for the crash, it's still technically possible for prosecutors to charge him with hit-and-run without running into double jeopardy or statute of limitations issues. The Times reports Williams still hasn't paid the $392 fine stemming from October's crash, which has led to another driver's license suspension.

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