Byron Jerideau: Overreaction by the CPD?

Byron Jerideau #70 (center) - scofflaw or victim of overreaction? I say the latter.

By now you've probably heard that USC Defensive Lineman Byron Jerideau was arrested by the Columbia Police Department early Friday morning for the heinous crimes of jaywalking and disorderly conduct. The junior from Green Pond, SC (Ed - the greatest name of any little town in the Palmetto State, incidentally) was physically arrested, taken the the police station, booked and mug-shotted.

Clemson fans around the state got a few cheap laughs at his expense - since it practically requires an assault and battery on a woman to warrant arresting a football player up there - and no doubt that someone at the AP or Yahoo Sports will add these notorious offenses to the list of USC players "arrested" under Steve Spurrier's watch.

All for jaywalking.

The CPD has a history of overreacting in its treatment of USC students in general, and USC football players in particular, down in Five Points. A case-in-point was the way the CPD "detained" Jadeveon Clowney back in May, 2011.

Let me say that I am not anti-police. I'm all for the police being strict in order to protect pedestrians and drivers on Harden Street and the surrounding avenues - after all, there have been terrible accidents in that area, not the least of which was the one that senselessly claimed the life of Nancy Moore Thurmond in 1993 - which rocked the entire USC community and the state. But some common sense needs to prevail - give Byron a field citation if you think it was necessary, but a custodial arrest smacks of unnecessary bullying.

You might ask why the disorderly conduct charge? Unfortunately, that charge is so over-used and arbitrarily applied that it can be cited for anything you do or say in the course of an arrest that the arresting officer doesn't like but can't make a resisting arrest charge stick. Question the arrest? Disorderly conduct. Plead your case not to go to jail? Disorderly conduct. Raise your voice, talk back or use a curse word (even as anodyne as "damn" or "hell" or "bullshit")? Disorderly conduct. Bam! Off to jail. Do not pass go.

Anything other than total, meek compliance and you're facing disorderly conduct. And, lo and behold, you can sniff that out between the lines of the official report - "The officer tried to arrest Jerideau, but Jerideau said loudly that he was not going to jail, according to the report. With the help of two additional officers, Jerideau was arrested and taken to Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center, while he "continued to use profanity, cursing and causing a greater scene."

My eight year old probably gives me more grief being sent to time-out than Byron gave those cops, otherwise he would have been cited for resisting arrest.

Likewise, the whole "smelled of alcohol on his breath and person" is completely irrelevant. If he was drunk, don't think for a minute they'd have hesitated to nail him for "public intoxication" too.

I feel bad for Byron, whose never been in trouble at Carolina, and is now subject to scrutiny and mockery for having the temerity not to use a crosswalk in Five Points - a crime I imagine that every USC undergrad (and quite a few post grad students, too) committed during our days in the Capital City. The young man has to wake up and see his name plastered over The Gamecock and every daily paper in South Carolina, not to mention our little corner of the internet. Now he is temporarily suspended from the team. Is that fair? Has the punishment already out-stripped the crime? I would say so.

You can say "well, he shouldn't have been out so late in Five Points" and you'd have a point - but, seriously, it's college. College students are going to go out. He wasn't drunk. He wasn't fighting. His crime was not using a street crossing and then complaining about his arrest - hardly evidence of arch-criminality or a callous disregard for societal norms, I should think.

CPD Police Chief Randy Scott and Mayor Steven Benjamin need to find a way for the CPD to issue tickets (if they must) and stop making custodial arrests for minor misdemeanors and belly-aching. Hopefully, Byron will pay a small fine or do some community service, and be reinstated to the team. In the meantime, Byron, we're feeling for you.

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