Tiger Woods, DeShawn Stevenson, and athletes clamming up

By Henry Abbott

Tiger Woods hurt his face, went to the hospital, and doesn't want to talk about it much with the authorities.

The police want to know more, though, and are mounting an investigation to find out what actually happened, even without anyone stepping forward as a victim of whatever crime may or may hot have occurred.

Compare that with another ritzy suburban Orlando incident that took place just about two-and-a-half miles and two-and-a-half years away.

As bad as Woods' facial injuries may be, this other was surely more dangerous to the community at large, with the sheriff's office reporting shell casings on the ground from multiple guns, blood here and there, and bullets lodged in one house, two or three cars, and the leg of a man named Curtis Ruff.

Yet in that case, at the home of Wizards guard DeShawn Stevenson, not a single charge was filed, for the simple reason that no one was willing to cooperate with authorities.

And in that way, Tiger Woods' evidently much less dangerous situation, is very similar. It's not clear who the victim or victims may be, but whoever they are, they're keeping their thoughts from the authorities.

In the Woods case, the police are pressing for details.

The day after the incident at Stevenson's house in August 2007, Orange County Sheriff's public information officer Jim Solomons told me the following:

When we responded to the house, two vehicles had been shot, there were bullet holes in the house, there was blood on more than one vehicle. About a half-hour later a guy who had been seen in the neighborhood of the shooting turned up at a hospital in a Cadillac Escalade. I don't know if he had been shot in one or both legs.

Nobody involved is cooperating. The people at the house [identified in a sheriff's department press release as including Washington Wizard DeShawn Stevenson, who owns the house, and former Cleveland Cavaliers, Boston Celtics, and Orlando Magic player Brandon Hunter] do not want to prosecute. The guy at the hospital [Curtis Ruff] has told two or three different versions of what happened.

The way the law is written, if there is no victim, there is no crime -- unless we find some other state violation, where the state is the victim, like, for instance a concealed weapons charge. In my 22 years on the job it has never made sense to me. But the way the law is written, if I were to shoot at you, and you decide you are not going to cooperate in any way, even though everyone involved might know I'm the shooter, there's nothing they can do about prosecuting it.

Frustrating and bizarre, huh? It certainly seems like plenty of people were shooting guns in a residential area -- there's even a bullet lodged in human flesh and presented for treatment at a local hospital -- and yet the police can't even really even begin the process of bringing anybody to justice?

Now, I know we all want to know what really happened in the case of the famous golfer. But if you're in the business of trying to keep Florida safe, what's the bigger priority -- getting to the bottom of the SUV vs. fire hydrant case, or the one with blood-and-shell casings littered about? And why do I suspect that in time we'll get to know all about the Tiger Woods case, while there might never be anything else in the works in the case of the shooting at DeShawn Stevenson's house?