Lawyer defends Clarett, says he did not resist arrest

Updated: August 13, 2006, 8:56 PM ET
Associated Press

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Former Ohio State football star Maurice Clarett was sprayed with pepper spray and struck after he surrendered following an early morning chase last week, his lawyer said Sunday.

"It is our contention that both of those things occurred after he was in handcuffs," said attorney Michael Hoague, who added that his client obeyed police commands.

Hoague is representing Clarett in an unrelated robbery trial that was to start Monday but postponed until September when a judge ordered a psychiatric evaluation after Clarett's latest arrest.

Officers said Clarett was driving erratically when they tried to pull him over Wednesday. He refused to get out of the sport utility vehicle he was driving, prompting several officers to remove him by force, police said.

Clarett was wearing a bulletproof vest that rendered stun guns ineffective. It took several officers to handcuff him, and he kicked at the doors of a van he was placed in and spit at officers, prompting them to put a mask over his mouth, police said.

Hoague claimed Clarett was compliant throughout.

During the pursuit, Clarett called his mother and fiancee to tell them he loved them. He asked his mother to call his lawyer, Hoague said.

"A person who calls his loved ones to say, 'I'm about to go to jail,' does not have the mind-set to put up a fight," Hoague said, adding that Clarett laid on the ground when he surrendered.

Messages seeking comment from Columbus police detectives and public information officers weren't immediately returned Sunday.

Hoague also said a blow to the face bloodied Clarett's lip and that he was trying to clear his mouth of blood and pepper spray, not spit at police.

Clarett was charged with carrying a concealed weapon after officers found three semiautomatic handguns and an assault rifle, all loaded, in the SUV.

He was heading to a hotel room with items he had collected from his fiancee's mother's house when he was pulled over, Hoague said.

"He had everything from his clothes to his high school diploma in the car" as he tried to get his affairs in order for the upcoming trial, Hoague said.

Clarett's arrest prompted a Franklin County Common Pleas Judge David Fais to raise his bond to $1.1 million in the robbery case, in which he is accused of holding up two people outside a downtown bar on New Year's Day. Bond for the concealed weapons charge was set at $5 million, which Clarett's attorneys said he most likely wouldn't be able to pay.

As a freshman, Clarett scored the winning touchdown in the second overtime of the Fiesta Bowl against Miami to lead Ohio State to the 2002 national championship, but was suspended for the following season after being charged with falsely reporting a theft to police.

After dropping out of school, Clarett unsuccessfully challenged the NFL's draft eligibility rule. The Denver Broncos made him a surprise third-round pick the following year but cut him during preseason.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press