Police: Bar fight probe “far from over”

LSU football players Jordan Jefferson, right, and Jarvis Landry leave the Baton Rouge Police Department's Violent Crime Unit at Louisiana State Police Headquarters Tuesday after being interviewed by police investigators most of the morning. The players were interviewed about a Tigerland bar fight they are implicated in from last week, police have said.
LSU football players Jordan Jefferson, right, and Jarvis Landry leave the Baton Rouge Police Department's Violent Crime Unit at Louisiana State Police Headquarters Tuesday after being interviewed by police investigators most of the morning. The players were interviewed about a Tigerland bar fight they are implicated in from last week, police have said.

Kimberly Vetter and Les East

Advocate staff writers | 9:20 p.m.

One man was knocked unconscious and another man suffered three fractured vertebrae in a Friday bar fight reportedly involving LSU football players, Baton Rouge police said Tuesday.

The other two men injured in the brawl outside Shady’s bar at 623 E. Boyd Drive were cut and bruised, Police Chief Dewayne White said following a news conference at police headquarters.

The names of the men injured in the fight were not released. However, White said, the man who was knocked unconscious and suffered contusions to his head, nose and hands is a Marine.

White said four LSU football players implicated in the incident gave their statements to police Tuesday at Louisiana State Police headquarters and gave investigators the names of at least a dozen witnesses.

The four players — senior quarterback Jordan Jefferson, 20; freshman wide receiver Jarvis Landry, 18; sophomore offensive tackle Chris Davenport, 21; and sophomore linebacker Josh Johns, 21 — met with police for about two hours, the chief said.

“They were quite gracious,” White said of the players. “They gave their statements willingly.”

Police spokesman Sgt. Don Stone said investigators will interview the witnesses the football players told them about.

“It’s possible we will talk to more football players,” he said. “Names were mentioned today (Tuesday).”

Stone said interviewing the additional witnesses could extend the police investigation five, possibly 10 days.

“This investigation is far from over,” he said. “We are still on a fact-finding mission.”

However, Stone added, based on facts investigators already have gathered, “there is a good chance that when the investigation is over arrests will be made” and that people could be booked with simple battery and second-degree battery.

Second-degree battery is a felony offense that carries a maximum five-year prison sentence upon conviction while simple battery is a misdemeanor.

Stone emphasized Tuesday that the four players who came in for interviews have only been implicated in the fight but have not been charged with a criminal offense.

“It was never our intention to arrest the four football players when they came in this morning,” he said. “We asked them to come in and give a statement and that’s what they did.”

The players’ attorney Nathan Fisher attended Tuesday’s meeting with police and said afterward that it “was about as we expected. Each player participated.”

Fisher said “nothing has happened and we’re just in the information gathering stage.”

“We need to investigate the case,” Fisher said.

“I maintain that my clients should not be charged. We found some evidence that we think is pertinent,” Fisher said.

Fisher said the information was turned over to police.

LSU head football coach Les Miles, who has been in touch with White, spoke about the incident at another news conference following a Tuesday afternoon scrimmage.

“There are a bunch of considerations that we’re not discussing at this point. Certainly, we want to do justice to any ongoing investigation,” Miles said. “We want to make sure that our team understands the severity of the issue. We’re concerned about the time frame, but I think there are some other considerations as well, whatever the time frame may be,” he said.

Police asked the four players to come in for interviews after witnesses reported the men were involved in a fight outside of Shady’s at 1:30 a.m. Friday, Stone has said.

The fight started when a man in a truck blew the horn to try to clear a crowd in the bar’s parking lot, Stone has said.

The situation escalated to a fight and four men, none of whom are members of the LSU football team, were treated at a hospital for minor injuries, police have said.

Stone said Monday that police obtained video from a business near Shady’s bar.

But, Stone said, “we are not releasing what’s on that video at this time.”

White said Tuesday that the fight was not caught on the video and that he did not want to say what was.

The chief said investigators have conflicting statements from people they have interviewed about the fight and that they have not yet talked to anyone from a third party.

He said he is unsure how many people were involved in the fight but knows there were “a lot of football players there that night.”

“It’s our hope and our aim that we are able to gather enough evidence to obtain an arrest warrant and charge someone in this case,” he said.

Michael P. Bienvenu, an attorney for some of the people reportedly involved in the fight, did not return a message left at his office on Tuesday.

After Miles’ opening statement, he was asked several questions about the investigation, including the following:

• If you had the necessary information internally, would you make a decision to suspend or not suspend before charges were either filed or weren’t?

Miles: “If I knew specifics that were fundamentally defined, then without question I would make my determination before that.”

• Does it scare you that other players, based on the information that the police received today, could be brought in and could be involved, or from your information are they clearly just witnesses?

Miles: “I don’t know if they’re clearly just witnesses. I certainly would let the police determine that. The severity of other people’s involvement is really tough to speculate on at this point. I don’t really know where that would go.”

At one point, LSU Sports Information Director Michael Bonnette said Miles would not field any more questions about the investigation.

“I hope that it’s not divisive for the community. The only thing I can tell you is that the team is remorseful. … We understand that this is a team that is followed so closely by people that love it. … I can only tell you that our guys are sick about it, and they’re looking to make restitution as best they can,” Miles said.

Joe Gyan Jr. contributed to this report.