(LEX 18) — Five of the six University of Kentucky football players charged with burglary last year and later acquitted have filed federal lawsuits against Lexington Police Department.
Andru Phillips, Vito Tisdale, Reuben Adams, JuTahn McClain and Joel Williams filed separate lawsuits Wednesday against police, the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government, Police Chief Lawrence Weathers and two individual police officers.
The lawsuits allege malicious prosecution, fabrication of false evidence, inaction, conspiracy to deprive constitutional rights and defamation.
The lawsuits detail the events that led to Phillips, Tisdale and four other British footballers being charged with burglary. The charges against all six players were dismissed after a grand jury decided not to charge them. A university investigation also found no wrongdoing by the players.
At the time of the charges, police accused the six of “forced” a house on Forest Park Drive. Police had claimed that the group had been asked to leave and subsequently engaged in a fight with people in the house that left several people injured.
The lawsuits filed on Wednesday say the players who attended the Alpha Sigma Phi party at the Forest Park Drive home on March 6, 2021 believed it to be an “open invitation.” But when two of the players, Reuben Adams and Joel Williams, arrived at the party, multiple people began calling them racist remarks and telling them to leave, according to the lawsuit.
As Adams and Williams tried to leave, Williams was jumped by the people at the party before he could get out, according to the lawsuit. Just then, Tisdale arrived at the party.
When Tisdale walked to the front door, he was called racist and physically assaulted, his lawsuit alleges. Tisdale then withdrew and did not return to the residence at any time, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit also states that Tisdale did not have a gun at any point. At the time, the police had charged him with wanton threats and accused him of having a gun at the party and pointing it at someone.
When Phillips arrived at the party, he received a text that Williams had been jumped, according to the lawsuit. Phillips walked to the open door to check on his friends, and a “woman yelled at him to leave.”
Phillips asked the woman if she was okay, then heard male voices shouting racist remarks, according to the lawsuit.
“He did not witness any physical altercation, did not attack anyone, was not attacked and never saw anyone with a weapon,” the lawsuit said. “There was less than five minutes. Mr. Phillips walked back through the front yard and left the party.”
Phillips learned from the technical staff that he was charged with assaulting people in the house, according to the lawsuit.
McClain also got a text that Williams had jumped, but the road to the house in Forest Park, according to the lawsuit, had already been blocked by police by the time he got there. He turned and went home without getting out of his car.
The lawsuits accuse the police of using unreliable information from prosecutors at the party to identify and charge the players.
In particular, the plaintiffs alleged that the members of the fraternity got together, ‘thrown out names’ on individuals they believed to be in attendance, and then went through the football team roster to select individuals they believed matched. the name and description of those persons they saw the night of the party,” a lawsuit says.
Each lawsuit stated that the men had suffered damage to their reputation, college experience, education and future careers.
Adams and Williams have since transferred from the University of Kentucky. Tisdale, Phillips and McClain are still playing for the UK, although Tisdale is recovering from injury.
A Lexington Police Department spokesman said the department cannot comment on pending lawsuits. The University of Kentucky also had no comment on the lawsuit.
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