Lexington, Ky. — Five of the six Kentucky football players acquitted by a grand jury on theft charges last year have sued the Lexington police officer who directed the investigation into the March 2021 incident at a private party off campus.
Reuben Adams, Juton McClain, Vito Tisdale, Joel Williams and Andrew Phillips allege in the lawsuits that Officer Cory Winlove lacked probable cause to charge them and “went on a spree” for a crime they did not commit. The lawsuits, filed in U.S. District Court, also name Officer Donnel Gordon, Police Chief Lawrence Weathers and the Lexington-Fayette County city government as defendants.
Tisdale, McClain and Phillips are the only injured players with the No. 8 Wildcats.
Elliot Schlosser, an attorney with Chicago-based civil rights firm Lowy & Lowy, said in a statement that the case was “another tragic example of the damage done by corrupt police in America.”
“As the cases demonstrate, these five young black men were targeted with an ax by a white officer and decided to make a name for themselves,” said Slozer, one of four attorneys listed in the players’ complaints.
The players, including Ernest Sanders IV, were charged with first-degree robbery in August 2021. Tisdale faces first-degree wanton endangerment for allegedly shooting one of the victims.
A grand jury in Fayette County last September declined to indict on all charges and the players returned after being suspended from team activities pending their cases.
The players are seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages along with attorneys’ fees. A message left for Lexington police Wednesday night was not immediately returned.
The lawsuits allege that Winlove was trying to “move on with his own life” and made false allegations before Southeastern Conference media day to further embarrass the University of Kentucky and its players.
“Make no mistake, going after the defendants (individual soldiers) and others is never a search for truth,” the lawsuits say, adding that the evidence is “false, flimsy and fabricated.”