Cowboys release Lucky Whitehead; WR says he wasn't in Va. at time of alleged incident

The Dallas Cowboys released wide receiver Lucky Whitehead on Monday, hours after the team learned that he was charged with larceny after a shoplifting arrest in Virginia and then failed to appear for a court hearing earlier this month, resulting in another charge.

According to the Prince William County Police Department, Whitehead was arrested at approximately 1:30 a.m. on June 22 after an employee at a Wawa convenience store noticed he left without paying for some items.

Whitehead was charged with shoplifting/petit larceny -- under $200, a misdemeanor -- and then failed to show for his arraignment on July 6, which resulted in a failure to appear charge, according to Prince William County General Court records.

Whitehead's agent, David Rich, told ESPN's Adam Schefter that the crime is a case of mistaken identity and Whitehead committed no crime, as he was not in Virginia when the incident occurred.

On June 22, Whitehead was in Dallas, per his flight ticket, Rich said. The United flight left at 7:18 a.m. direct to Washington, D.C., that morning and landed at 11:30 a.m., 10 hours after the alleged crime occurred.

Whitehead has told the Cowboys that it wasn't him who was arrested. Rich told the Cowboys that Whitehead didn't appear in court because he never received the citation and summons. The reason he didn't receive the citation and summons is because he wasn't in the state when the crime occurred, Rich said.

Rich has told the Cowboys this information and said the plane record speaks for itself.

"It's just unfortunate for the kid," Rich said.

Whitehead, a Virginia native, also denied that he was involved in the shoplifting incident in a statement to CowboysHQ.com.

"I don't know who got arrested in Virginia. But it wasn't me. I NEVER once had an altercation with the cops. And come to find out, this happened, they say, at 1:34 a.m. at a Wawa in Woodbridge, Virginia [on a day] that I was in Dallas until 11:20 a.m.," he said.

According to executive vice president Stephen Jones, the Cowboys became aware of the situation Monday morning. He said Whitehead's departure was the culmination of a number of incidents involving the receiver over the past 12 months.

Jones disputed the notion that Whitehead's release was in response to recent incidents involving other Cowboys players, and said the move wasn't meant to send a message.

"Not worried about sending a message," Jones said. "Worried about his situation. We looked at it. We looked at his full body of work and we made a decision to move on."

Jones would not comment on the agent's assertion that it is a case of mistaken identity.

"In handling the situation and evaluating with the authorities there and in talking to him, we just didn't feel like it's in the best interest of the Cowboys to have him with us," coach Jason Garrett said of Whitehead. "We've got a track record of being able to take guys that made some mistakes early on in their career and they get better. They grow and they develop and they become great citizens and great players. We have a number of those guys on our team right now.

"We have other guys that they haven't responded to that structure and that way of doing things and they're no longer with our team. There are plenty of examples of that as well. In this particular case, we felt it was in the best interest of the Dallas Cowboys to move on from Lucky Whitehead."

Last season, Whitehead was late to a Saturday walk-through, and Garrett told him to not take the flight for a game against the New York Giants in December. Whitehead also was involved in a car accident last season, and Garrett was not aware of it until he was informed by the media. Whitehead briefly posted news of the accident on Snapchat before taking it down.

Asked by reporters about the shoplifting and failure to appear charges earlier Monday, Whitehead said, "I didn't know about that," and, "I don't know what's going on."

Whitehead has a court date scheduled for Aug. 10, according to records.

Whitehead made headlines last week when he announced on social media that his dog, Blitz, was kidnapped and being held for ransom. He later announced on social media that the dog had been returned unharmed.

Whitehead's arrest is the latest legal trouble this offseason for the Cowboys:

  • Running back Ezekiel Elliott was involved in an incident at a Dallas bar on July 16 that left a man with a nose injury. Dallas police have suspended their investigation because they have not been able to locate the victim, and no witnesses have come forward. The running back also is awaiting possible punishment from the NFL stemming from a domestic violence accusation last July in Columbus, Ohio.

  • Linebacker Damien Wilson was arrested July 4 on charges of assault with a deadly weapon.

  • Rookie cornerback Jourdan Lewis is not with the team, as he was in court for a misdemeanor domestic violence court case.

Whitehead, 25, has played the past two seasons for the Cowboys, appearing in 30 games with two starts. He has rushed 20 times for 189 yards and caught nine passes for 64 yards. He also has been used as a punt and kick returner.

ESPN's Todd Archer contributed to this report.