ATHENS, Ga. -- Prosecutors have dismissed firearms charges against a former University of Georgia running back who was arrested last summer when Athens-Clarke police found a stolen gun in his car.
While police had good reason to arrest Isaiah Crowell for the gun that was under the driver’s seat of his car, authorities were unable to find evidence linking the 9mm Luger semiautomatic pistol to him, according to Wednesday’s dismissal document.
“Based on the fact that the weapon involved was located under the seat of the car that (Crowell) was driving, there was certainly probable cause to arrest (him) ...,” Western Judicial Circuit Assistant District Attorney James Chafin wrote in the dismissal notice.
“However, as there is no other evidence to connect the defendant to the weapon, the state would be unable to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that (Crowell) possessed the weapon found or even knew it was there,” Chafin stated in the dismissal.
Crowell, considered to be a future top NFL draft prospect, was arrested early on the morning of June 30 at a police checkpoint on the UGA campus. Officers smelled what they believed to be marijuana after they stopped the car, and Crowell and his passengers consented to searches, according to police.
Officers then searched the car and found the pistol with the serial number shaved off. Crowell insisted at the time that the gun was not his and that he allowed other people to drive his car.
Crowell, who now plays for the Alabama State Hornets in the Southwest Athletic Conference, rushed for 850 yards during his freshman year at UGA in 2011, helping the Bulldogs advance to the SEC championship game. He was dismissed from Georgia the same day he was arrested.
At the time of his arrest, he and the passengers — all UGA football players — were heading home from Aftermath, a downtown Athens nightclub, Crowell told police.
When the Luger was found under his seat, police arrested Crowell and charged him with possession of a weapon in a school safety zone and possession of a firearm with an altered identification, both felonies, and the misdemeanor charge of carrying a concealed firearm. Though the pistol’s serial number had been scratched off, scientists at the Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s State Crime Lab were able to recover the serial number through a chemical process, according to police.
Authorities ran the serial number though a firearms database and learned it was reported stolen about a year earlier in a different Georgia county, police said.
In the meantime, high-powered Atlanta defense attorney Steve Sadow volunteered to represent Crowell pro bono. He previously represented several other former Georgia athletes, a co-defendant in the 2000 double-murder case that involved NFL linebacker Ray Lewis, and Cifford Harris, the rapper known as T.I.
Sadow and prosecutors could not be immediately reached for comment. Prosecutors dropped the charges without bringing Crowell’s case before a grand jury to let a panel of citizens decide if criminal charges should be filed.
In the dismissal notice, Chafin states that the car Crowell was driving belonged to his mother, which other people had been allowed to drive without the football player being present.
“In addition, three other people were present in the vehicle at the time of the weapon’s discovery,” the prosecutor said in the dismissal. “Those three people as well as his mother and the other individuals who had previously driven the vehicle had just as much access to the weapon as the defendant himself.
“The state would not be able to prove otherwise, which would be necessary to have any opportunity to obtain a conviction, i.e., prove knowing possession beyond a reasonable doubt. Further testing on the weapon did not link the defendant to the weapon,” Chafin stated in the dismissal notice.