| ||Associated Press|
HOBOKEN, N.J. -- Penn State quarterback Rashard Casey and a
high school teammate beat an off-duty police officer until he was
unconscious because the white officer was at a bar with a black
woman, police said Monday.
"What are you doing with him? You should be with us. You're one
of us," Casey and Desmond Miller told Officer Patrick Fitzsimmons'
acquaintance at the River Street bar early Sunday morning,
according to Hoboken Police Chief Carmen LaBruno. Casey and Miller
Casey, who led Penn State to a victory in the Alamo Bowl last
year, punched Fitzsimmons, 34, as he was walking to his car,
LaBruno said. Casey and Miller, both 22, kicked the officer in the
head once he fell, and continued to kick him after he lost
consciousness, LaBruno said.
Four witnesses, including an off-duty Jersey City police
officer, positively identified Casey and Miller as the officer's
attackers and Casey's clothes were covered with blood when he was
arrested, LaBruno said. Tests to determine whether the blood was
Fitzsimmons' should take several weeks.
Casey and Miller entered not guilty pleas to charges of
aggravated assault at the Hudson County Courthouse in Jersey City
on Monday. Miller entered his plea by teleconference from the
Hudson County Jail, where he was being held in lieu of $20,000
bail. Casey, who posted $5,000 bail Sunday, came into
court in street clothes and walked out with lawyer Dennis McAlevy.
Casey did not speak to reporters, but held his hands up at the
instructions of his lawyer. "Anybody see any marks on those
hands?" asked McAlevy.
Penn St. coach Joe Paterno
I have spoken with Rashard Casey and his attorney regarding the incident in Hoboken, N.J., early Sunday morning and there is another side to the story.
Rashard has not been a discipline problem during his time at Penn State and the conduct alleged in the charges is inconsistent with the personality he's demonstrated to me and the members of the coaching staff.
Rashard is a good young person who gets along well with his teammates of all races. I trust Rashard will be able to proceed with his academic work in summer school with a minimum of distractions.
I hope and expect he will be exonerated when all of the facts are examined.
Paterno statement released by Penn State SID Jeff Nelson.
"I have full faith that when this matter is fully adjudicated,
Rashard Casey will be the starting quarterback at Penn State."
Prosecutors are deciding whether to try the assault cases as
bias crimes, which would double the maximum prison terms Casey and
Miller could serve from 10 years to 20 years.
The only evidence of a bias crime comes from Fitzsimmons'
acquaintance, not from eyewitnesses, said Edward DeFazio, Hudson
County's deputy first assistant prosecutor.
Casey's principal at Hoboken High School, Frank Spano, on Monday
said that his former star quarterback is not biased toward
interracial relationships because he has a 2-year-old biracial son.
"This is totally out of character for Rashard Casey," Spano
said. "He's always been a gentleman, a quiet, well-mannered young
Casey, who graduated from Hoboken in 1995, was slated to start
as quarterback this season after splitting time last year with
starter Kevin Thompson. He passed for one touchdown and ran for a
second to lead the Nittany Lions to a 24-0 victory over Texas A&M
in the Alamo Bowl.
He completed 59 of 94 passes last year for 856 yards and six
touchdowns and was the team's No. 2 rusher with 290 yards and five
touchdowns who became known for his scrambling style. "He's a
human highlight film," fullback Mike Cerimele said of Casey last
Penn State sports information director Jeff Nelson declined to
comment Monday on the charges. He did say the university could take
action against students convicted of crimes, including suspension
Casey and Miller, of Jersey City, arrived at the River Street at
about 1:40 a.m. Sunday, and stayed there for about an hour, LaBruno
Fitzsimmons, a five-year veteran who teaches tolerance training
at his job in the community policing division, was at the bar with
his friend, whose name authorities refused to release.
Casey and Miller jumped Fitzsimmons as he left the bar, police
said. A third Hoboken High alumni, Keeon Walker, told Casey and
Miller to stop the attack because Fitzsimmons was a police officer,
LaBruno said. Walker, who plays football at Syracuse, will not face
LaBruno would not say whether Fitzsimmons was armed at the time.
The officer was released from a hospital Sunday, but may require
facial surgery after sustaining severe bruises and abrasions,
|Penn State's Rashard Casey performs against Iowa last season.|| |
Penn State to investigate QB Casey