After he was charged with a DUI in late April, the Miami Hurricanes suspended their running back, Mark Walton, indefinitely. This came as something of an unwelcome shock to the program and its fans, as Walton had led the team in touchdowns during the previous season.
His arrest has been called "one of the oddest DUI cases in recent South Florida memory." According to media reports, the DUI stemmed from an earlier incident, in which a man resembling Walton - and who may indeed have been Walton - allegedly impersonated a police officer, pulled over a woman driving her car, and sexually assaulted her.
The case has ended as mysteriously as it began; last week, the Miami-Dade Office of the State Attorney suddenly announced it was dropping the charges against Walton, and the Hurricanes returned him to their active roster. Now we're left to wonder - what happened?
How the running back's attorney got the charges dismissed
From the very start, the City of Miami Police bungled the matter. It started, it seems, as a sting operation. Namely, Walton was summoned by text message ("maybe you should swing by...") to the apartment of the woman who'd been assaulted. When he arrived, two police officers were lying in wait, and apprehended the running back soon after he parked (which he did improperly, on the wrong side of the street, the Miami Police note).
Walton's attorney has called this a "warrantless sting"-a possible infringement of Walton's civil rights. His attorney also found that the alleged victim and one of the arresting officers had a personal relationship-another eyebrow-raiser-and that there were significant discrepancies between official documents that explained the arrest. (One of the documents said that Walton was pulled over for speeding, while another said officers had merely observed him as they were looking into another matter.)
Even if Walton had been heavily inebriated, the way the police handled the case left it so hole-ridden that it would be impossible to prosecute. However, Walton made the mistake of agreeing to a breathalyzer test. Reports note he blew below a .08, and was not in violation of Florida's legal limit.
But did he impersonate a policeman? And does that matter?
What remains odd is that Walton does not deny having interacted with the woman who was the alleged victim of sexual assault. Indeed, he admits to pulling her over, but insists he wasn't pretending to be a cop. Her car, he says, was swerving all over the road, and he stopped her to make sure she was okay.
Perhaps. In any event, Walton will be permitted to drive as ruthlessly and recklessly as he likes this fall, when the Hurricanes' football season begins.