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NFL draft prospect Caleb Brantley charged with punching woman in face

Caleb Brantley’s initial report was falsified, a lawyer says.
Caleb Brantley’s initial report was falsified, a lawyer says.
Published Apr. 24, 2017

Just days before he was expected to be an early round pick in the NFL draft, former Florida defensive lineman Caleb Brantley faces a misdemeanor battery charge on a complaint that he knocked a woman unconscious in a fight earlier this month.

The charge filed Friday appears to be a complete reversal from the first report by the Gainesville Police Department, which listed Brantley, 22, as the victim in an early morning altercation on April 13. But that's because the initial report was wrong, according to the woman's attorney, North Florida Lawyers' Michael Williams. He said that report was falsified and that Gainesville police told him the officers listed on that report were not involved.

According to the latest report, written April 17 and filed in Alachua County court Friday, the incident began when Brantley made crude comments toward the woman, UF student Chelsea Austin. She then pushed Brantley, who responded by striking her in the face and knocking her unconscious, the report said. The damage included a displaced tooth that will require a root canal. The initial police report said the woman had blood around her tooth but did not say she was knocked out.

In a statement Sunday night, Williams said Brantley knocked Austin, who is 5 feet 5 and less than 130 pounds, to the ground. He said she was hospitalized and that she is still undergoing "extensive medical treatment."

The court record states that Brantley's action was "clearly out of retaliation and not self-defense" and "far exceeded what was reasonable or necessary."

In a phone interview, Williams declined to speculate on what exactly happened with Gainesville police or why. He said Austin has been harassed and pressured on social media to drop the case.

"I think it's fair to say that it was traumatic for Ms. Austin, who was a victim in the case, to be threatened and receive hateful speech and remarks on social media as a result of that police report," Williams said.

A Gainesville police spokesman did not return a request for comment.

"Caleb Brantley was the victim the night this happened, and he is still being victimized," said his attorney, Huntley Johnson.

The 6-foot-3, 307-pound Brantley of Crescent City was second-team All-SEC as a redshirt junior and left UF with 81 tackles, 20½ for a loss. He's one of the top defensive tackle prospects in the draft, which begins Thursday.

Contact Matt Baker at mbaker@tampabay.com.

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