Thursday, October 4, 2007

Tony Joiner's 'Misunderstanding'

On Tuesday, a laudatory story on Florida safety Tony Joiner appeared at On the same day, he became the eighth player on his team to be arrested this year, although there was good reason to believe that the felony burglary charge was, indeed, the result of a 'misunderstanding'. After all, the owner of the the property where the burglary allegedly occurred went to bat for him:
But the owner of the property leased by the towing company, Stan Forron, said Tuesday afternoon that the whole thing is "a big misunderstanding." . . .

Forron said Joiner had made arrangements to pay the towing bill and pick up the car. But when Joiner arrived, no one was around to help him.

"I don't know if he was late or early or what," said Forron, who plans to urge the state attorney's office to drop the charges. "I don't understand why he was arrested. Is it a crime? Yes and no. It's kind of my fault because I left the gate open.

"It's like going to breakfast at Cracker Barrel and when you go to leave there's no one there to take your money. How long are you going to wait?"

Forron acknowledged that he is a Gators fan, but he insisted that it had no bearing on his desire to see the charges dropped.

"I came forward because right is right and wrong is wrong," Forron said. "I don't think he should be in trouble."

It also appeared that he had made no attempt to get away:

According to the police report, witnesses said Joiner opened the gate to the towing company, got into a car, drove out of the lot and was trying to close the gate when he was confronted by one of the witnesses. The witness said Joiner drove back into the lot and waited for police to arrive.

Over the last 24 hours, new details have emerged, and Stan Forron's story has been contradicted by both witnesses - and himself. From the Tampa Tribune:

In a telephone interview with The Tampa Tribune, the owner of the lot, Stan Forron, said he inadvertently left the gate open before he left work early Tuesday morning. Forron said he was not present during the incident.

From the Miami Herald:

Stan Forron, who on Tuesday identified himself as the property owner (lease holder) where Watson's Towing and Recovery is located, said the towing service will not press charges against Joiner.

He called the incident a ``big miscommunication.''

Forron said that he left the gate open and that Joiner called earlier in the morning about picking up the car.

Forron said that the towing service employees asked the police not to arrest Joiner.

But no mention of a complaint withdrawal was written in the police report and Gainesville police information officer Lt. Keith Kameg said Tuesday that Forron was never at the scene of the incident while the police were there.

Forron told The Miami Herald that ``the boys didn't know I was there because I was in the back.''

So depending on which story you believe, he was either there, or he was not. Furthermore, that he left the gate up, which is flatly contradicted by witnesses (including the suspect), and his employees asked that he not be arrested. We cannot be sure on that last point, but his employee Travis Watkins did make a couple calls to the police during the incident, and these have now been released.

Excerpt from Call #1, 4:32 A.M:
Watkins: “I need GPD down here now.”

Dispatcher: “At Watson’s?”

Watkins: “Yes ma’am.”

Dispatcher: “What’s going on there?”

Watkins: “Well, I had somebody trying to break into the yard trying to steal their car.”

Dispatcher: "Is he still out there, the suspect?"

Watkins: "Yeah, he's still here, its, ah, Tony Joiner from the Gators."
Excerpt from Call #2, 4:37 A.M:

Watkins: “Could I have GPD step it up please?”

Dispatcher: “OK. What’s going on there right now?”

Watkins: “They’re getting a little hasty with us.”

Dispatcher: “OK. What are they doing?”

Watkins: “They’re getting up in our face and [expletive]. They’ve already broken into the yard and tried to take the car, and I blocked them in.”
It thus does not sound like the innocent incident which was first portrayed in the press, and it is difficult to escape the conclusion that the fact that Stan Forron is a Gators fan has influenced the various versions of the event that he has recounted.

Yesterday, Urban Meyer attempted damage control by stripping Joiner of his captaincy. Yes, thats right, Joiner was one of the team captains. It is now difficult to escape the conclusion that Meyer has lost control of the Florida football program.

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