Former Florida Gators defensive tackle Caleb Brantley has been charged with misdemeanor battery stemming from an incident at a Gainesville bar on April 13, as first reported by Patrick Pinak of The Independent Florida Alligator on Sunday.
Brantley’s involvement in the incident was reported on the morning of April 13, with a police report released at that time indicating that he and a woman, Chelsea Austin, were involved in a verbal dispute that turned physical, with Austin and Brantley both telling police that she struck him first and a friend of Austin alleging that Brantley punched her in the mouth, leaving her with a cut on her lip and blood near a tooth.
Brantley’s version of events, which featured him shoving Austin away, was backed by multiple witnesses on the scene, per the report. At the time, no charges were filed, with the police report noting that Brantley did not wish to be a victim.
Brantley tweeted his thanks to a Tampa-area reporter for reporting on the event on April 13.
But on April 17, multiple witnesses gave Gainesville police accounts of the event suggesting that Brantley’s pushing away of Austin was more escalated retaliation than response. That sworn complaint, available via the Alachua County Clerk of Courts, has one witness telling police that Austin was knocked unconscious by Brantley, while another says Brantley struck Austin in the face with a closed fist, and additionally identified Brantley by photo lineup.
The sworn complaint also notes, as established fact, that Austin pushed Brantley prior to his strike in response, that Austin sustained dental injuries that will require a root canal, that Brantley’s use of force “was clearly out of retaliation and not self-defense” and “far exceeded what was reasonable or necessary,” and that Brantley did not want to be the victim of a battery on the scene.
Brantley was charged with misdemeanor battery of the first degree for touching or striking another person against their will. If convicted, he could face up to a year in jail.
The only Twitter account to send tweets mentioning the name “Caleb Brantley” on April 13, prior to the reporting on the incident, was that of @cmarieeexo_, whose display name and username are consistent with that of the Chelsea Austin — middle name Marie — listed as the victim in the police report.
In a sequence of tweets sent that morning, that user vowed that “Caleb Brantley will pay” and refers to an incident taking place the previous night, while also asserting that “NOBODY KNOWS THE DAMN STORY EXCEPT ME AND WHOEVER WAS THERE.”
Those tweets were later deleted, and the account is now private.
Update, 8:30 p.m.: The attorney for Austin has released a statement to media headlined “RE: CALEB BRANTLEY ASSAULT,” per Matt Baker of the Tampa Bay Times.
In it, the attorney asserts that the police report circulated with the original reports on the incident is a “falsified” report — and that Gainesville Police Department detectives have indicated as much — and that “Ms. Austin’s has been drastically affected as a result of Mr. Brantley actions,” to include “extensive medical treatment” and “numerous hateful comments and pressure from social media to drop charges.”
Brantley was considered a likely early-round selection in the 2017 NFL Draft, which begins on Thursday. An outstanding charge of battery — especially one stemming from an alleged punch delivered to a woman’s face — is likely to significantly impact how NFL teams view Brantley.