The Florida State University quarterback seen on video punching a woman in the face was fighting back after being provoked, his lawyer told NBC News.
De’Andre Johnson, 19, has been charged with battery following the June 24 incident at a Tallahassee club. The freshman player was kicked off the FSU football team after surveillance video emerged which appeared to show the freshman quarterback taking a swing at the unidentified woman.
According to his lawyer, Johnson was not the initial aggressor — but is “owning this” and trying to learn from the experience. The woman raised her fist and shouted “racial epithets” at Johnson when the player accidentally made contact when he was walking up to the bar, lawyer Jose Baez told NBC News. Johnson “tried to deescalate the situation” but the woman “kneed him in the groin area” and “took another swing before he retaliated,” the attorney added.
“It wasn’t until she struck him twice that he reacted,” Baez said. “But he is very…He is very regretful that he didn’t turn around and walk away immediately.” He added, “He makes no excuses for what happened.”
Baez called Johnson’s dismissal from the football team “unfortunate” and said his client is now volunteering at a shelter for battered women.
“All he wants to do is learn from this experience and move on and get an education,” Baez said. “We certainly don’t want him to pay for the rest of his life for an incident that occurred in a bar.”
The victim has declined to comment.
Florida State University President John Thrasher on Tuesday said that he supported the decision to remove Johnson from the football team. Thrasher released the following statement-
I fully support Coach Fisher’s decisions to immediately suspend and subsequently dismiss De’Andre Johnson from the football team. While it is always important to adhere to due process, having now seen the physical altercation captured on video, there is no question in my mind that Coach Fisher made the correct decisions. I expect all students at Florida State University, including student-athletes, to adhere to the highest level of conduct. I have no tolerance for the kind of behavior exhibited in this case.
Florida State University was forged from an outstanding college for women and has a long tradition of being a caring community that demands students be treated with dignity and respect. All students must know their university will do everything it can to ensure a safe, healthy and positive environment in which they can learn and enjoy their college experience. As president, I am committed to maintaining such an environment at FSU. -Florida State University President John Thrasher
MORE STORIES FROM WFLA.COM