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Attorney: Witnesses exonerate Quinton Dunbar in robbery

The Seahawks cornerback, a former Gator, faces an arrest warrant on armed robbery charges in Miramar, near his hometown of Miami.
Quinton Dunbar developed into a strong NFL cornerback with Washington after playing receiver for the Gators, and is now with the Seahawks.
Quinton Dunbar developed into a strong NFL cornerback with Washington after playing receiver for the Gators, and is now with the Seahawks. [ PATRICK SEMANSKY | AP ]
Published May 16, 2020

SEATTLE — The story of the armed robbery arrest charge of Seahawks cornerback Quinton Dunbar took an unexpected turn Friday afternoon as his Miami-based lawyer said that he has statements from five witnesses attesting that Dunbar was not involved.

Attorney Michael Grieco confirmed to the Seattle Times in a phone interview that he has sworn statements from five witnesses cited in a police report the day before exonerating Dunbar, who played receiver at UF then converted to cornerback in the NFL. Grieco contends that should compel authorities to withdraw a warrant for Dunbar’s arrest on four felony armed robbery charges issued the day before.

“The affidavits are the exact opposite of what they told the police two days ago,” said Grieco, who said he was approached Friday by the five who said they wanted to say Dunbar was not involved. He said he presented the affidavits to the Broward State Attorney’s Office on Friday.

“Either they lied in their affidavits today or they lied to the police. Maybe they will lie again and tell the police that the first statement was accurate. What I care about is that my client, who has never been in trouble in his life, is being forced to surrender on a (B.S.) case that no self-respecting prosecutor would ever file. So if they know that they would never file it why would they move forward on a warrant? So my position is that you take it back to the judge who signed off on the original warrant, bring the five affidavits and let the judge determine whether or not the warrant should remain in place or not. But they are not willing to do that.”

Grieco says Dunbar’s contention is that “he didn’t commit a crime, which is consistent with what these five witnesses are now saying.”

However, Tania Rues, the public information officer for the Miramar Police Department told the Seattle Times in a phone interview that the department had not been provided any new information from witnesses and that the warrant for Dunbar’s arrest issued on Thursday still stands.

“We have four victims and one witness who provided us with sworn statements under oath that were recorded,” Rues said. “We welcome anyone that may want to provide a new statement to come into the police department and do so.”

As of 4 p.m. Seattle time, neither Dunbar nor the other player given charges in the incident — Giants cornerback DeAndre Baker — had turned themselves in, Rues said.

She stated again that the players would be given a “reasonable” amount of time to turn themselves in but would not state a specific timeline.

Grieco said that “if he’s forced to turn himself in he will turn himself in. He will man up and do it. But he shouldn’t have to.”

In interviews with the Miami Herald, the Seattle Times and other outlets, Grieco also criticized the way the Miramar Police Department has handled the case publicly, specifically for “tweeting” about the arrest warrant and “tagging” the Seahawks’ account.

Grieco called the Miramar Police Department “second rate” and that “they tweeted out a virtual touchdown where they tagged the Seattle Seahawks in the tweet, which is beyond unprofessional and unprecedented because I’ve never even seen a police department tweet out that they are issuing an arrest warrant for anybody … it’s juvenile and it shows that they were really, really excited to arrest and charge two NFL players and that they rushed to judgment and they didn’t do their homework.”

Rues refuted the idea that the department was excited to arrest a celebrity, calling Grieco’s statement to the Miami Herald that the department was excited to arrest an NFL player “uncalled for” and saying that to the contrary, that the department tried to minimize attention, doing no on-camera or radio interviews and only answering phone calls to answer basic questions about the case while providing what is legally publicly available information.

She said the department tagged the teams in the tweet to make it as easy as possible for people to access the information because “we were getting bombarded with phone calls.” She also said at the moment the report went public the department had not spoken to lawyers for those involved.

She said because of all the attention they didn’t want to put out a tweet “without explaining who these people are” to make it as clear as possible.

“We really don’t want to treat these athletes any different than anyone else,” Rues stated.

News of the warrant for Dunbar’s arrest on four counts of armed robbery broke Thursday afternoon. Baker was also wanted on four counts of aggravated assault.

The two, along with another man whose identity has not yet been revealed, were said to have taken more than $12,000 in cash and $61,000 in watches from men at a party on Wednesday night in Miramar, about 17 miles north of Dunbar’s native Miami.

One of the men told the police that Dunbar and Baker had lost roughly $70,000 gambling on Monday, painting the incident as a possible attempt to get back what they had lost.

The police report stated one of the witnesses, identified as Dominick Johnson, had known Baker and Dunbar “since they were children” and that he stated that each was at the party. Johnson was among those quoted in the report as saying that he saw Baker with a gun but that Dunbar did not have a gun (Dunbar was reported by one of the victims as having a gun with three stating he did not).

The police report noted that three high-priced cars were parked outside that the police said a witness stated the cars were positioned in a manner that suggested a quick getaway and that the robbery may have been planned.

The Seahawks on Thursday released a statement stating only that they were “aware of the situation” and were “still gathering information. We will defer all further comment to league investigators and local authorities.” The team had no further comment Friday.

Dunbar, 27, was acquired from Washington in what appeared to be one of the team’s most-advantageous moves of the offseason, the Seahawks getting a potential Pro Bowl-caliber cornerback for a fifth-round pick.

Friday’s official NFL transactions, which list all moves as of 1 p.m. Friday, did not show any roster moves by the Seahawks.

In what became an odd subplot to Thursday, Dunbar talked to media who cover the Seahawks in a Zoom video call Thursday morning, roughly 12 hours after police arrived at a house in Miramar responding to the call — and about eight hours before news broke of the charges.

The call lasted roughly 14 minutes and Dunbar — who said he was doing the call from his residence in the Overtown area of Miami — answered questions politely and amiably, talking enthusiastically of how it was nice to have been “wanted” by the Seahawks and how he hoped to repay the team in “the way I carry myself as a person and as a player.”

The NFL can hand down suspensions of its own independent of any legal action. The process for doing so under the league’s Personal Conduct Policy was changed somewhat in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement.

But Dunbar and Baker would obviously be at risk of significant suspensions from the league whether or not they are convicted and have to serve time (Dunbar’s charge comes with a stated minimum of 10 years of jail time, though judges can alter that).

“It is not enough simply to avoid being found guilty of a crime,” reads a section of the league’s personal conduct policy.

Dunbar’s contract has a $3.421 million salary cap hit for the 2020 season, including $3.25 million in base salary.

None is guaranteed and the Seahawks would save $3.421 million against the cap if he is released either before or after June 1. Seattle has in the past cut players for reported involvement in crimes before they became legally adjudicated, maybe most notably in recent years cutting quarterback Trevone Boykin in the spring of 2018 after a report of domestic violence.

A review of police records by the Seattle Times shows Dunbar has had more than 20 traffic violations over the last few years but no infractions of a more serious nature.

The Miami Herald stated that neither Baker nor Dunbar has a criminal history in Miami-Dade or Broward counties and that Dunbar has $780.17 in unpaid traffic fees.

Dunbar lists Miami as his hometown and attended Booker T. Washington High in Miami.