Malik McDowell, a defensive lineman for the Cleveland Browns, was arrested after being filmed attacking a police officer while naked in South Florida, prompting several people to call 911 and a children’s centre to go into lockdown.
The 25-year-old NFL player has been charged with aggravated battery on an officer, resisting an officer/obstructing with violence, and exposure of sex organs in public.
Mr McDowell was arrested on Monday and taken to Broward County Jail. He stood before a judge on Tuesday, who indicated that there was probable cause for his arrest, according to Local 10 News.
Authorities allege that Mr McDowell was seen naked outside a children’s learning centre in Deerfield Beach north of Miami on Monday and that the centre was in session at the time.
An unidentified woman said in a 911 call obtained by TMZ Sports that “we currently have an African American man, naked walking the premises”.
A woman then says to someone else in the building “we’re going to go into lockdown, you’re going to have to take these kids into the bathroom, okay?”
“He’s just walking up and down in front of the building,” the unidentified woman told the emergency dispatcher. “He’s completely naked.”
According to Local 10 News, The Learning Center’s Nan Zamora said that they saw “a gentleman roaming the parking lot without any clothing on. And he seemed to be not himself”.
The centre was put “in a secure state to ensure the safety of our children and our staff and any families that happen to be inside the centre at the time,” Ms Zamora said, CBS Miami reported.
The arrest report states that a deputy with the Broward Sheriff’s Office approached Mr McDowell as he was sitting on a curb. Mr McDowell then allegedly swore at the officer and ran towards him “at full speed with a closed fist”.
“The defendant intentionally rammed his body into me and began swinging closed fist punches at me,” the deputy said in the arrest report. “The punches were swung with extreme aggression with at least one strike hitting me on my right eye/temple area of my eye.”
The deputy said Mr McDowell continued punching before running off. During the arrest, officers used a stun gun to subdue Mr McDowell.
The officer said there’s a “likelihood that I sustained permanent injury to my eye” and that he experienced “immediate and extreme pain” in his left heel.
A prosecutor said on Tuesday that the officer has struggled to walk since the altercation.
Mr McDowell’s defence attorney Adam Swickle told the Sun-Sentinel: “Apparently, somebody may have slipped him something or given him something he was unaware of — which explains some of his bizarre behaviour.”
Mr McDowell was ordered by the judge not to return to the children’s centre, which works with children between the ages of six months and six years. Bond was set at $31,000 and Mr McDowell left the jail on Tuesday night.
The Cleveland Browns said in a statement: “We are aware of the very concerning incident and arrest involving Malik McDowell and are in the process of gathering more information. We understand the severity of this matter and our thoughts are for the well-being of all involved. We will have no further comment at this time.”
Mr McDowell played 15 games for the Browns during his first season in the NFL.
He was selected by the Seattle Seahawks in the second round in 2017, but he couldn’t play as planned following an ATV accident. He’s also had several legal issues, including spending 11 months in jail in his home state of Michigan.
Mr McDowell was charged with assault, resisting arrest, and operating a vehicle while intoxicated in 2019. He was filmed fighting two officers despite having been hit with a stun gun.
Reggie Wynns helped Mr McDowell with the college recruiting process. In 2019, he told the Detriot Free Press that “he’s not the same person since the accident of that 4-wheeler”.
“It could be CTE issues, it could be concussion. We don’t know. He was not a troublemaker, not a troublemaker at all,” he added.
CTE refers to chronic traumatic encephalopathy – a term describing brain degeneration that’s likely caused by repeated head traumas.
According to Cleveland.com, Browns General Manager Andrew Berry said in May when the team signed Mr McDowell that they were “certainly aware of Malik’s past, as we have done extensive work on him for the last two months”.
“He is accountable for his actions and has had to live with the consequences for decisions earlier in his life,” Mr Berry added at the time. “We believe Malik is in a good place, personally and medically. He has taken the necessary steps to get on a healthy path, and has learned from his experiences.”