The story of the armed-robbery arrest warrant for Seahawks cornerback Quinton Dunbar took an unexpected turn Friday, as his Miami-based lawyer said he has statements from five witnesses attesting that Dunbar was not involved.
In a phone interview with The Seattle Times, attorney Michael Grieco confirmed the existence of the sworn statements exonerating Dunbar. Grieco said the affidavits should compel Miramar, Florida, authorities to withdraw a warrant for Dunbar’s arrest on four felony armed-robbery charges issued Thursday.
“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 witnesses who wanted to say Dunbar was not involved. He said he presented the affidavits Friday to the Broward County State Attorney’s Office (a spokeswoman for the AG’s office told the Times Friday they had no comment until they reviewed all the evidence).
“Either they lied in their affidavits today or they lied to the police,” Grieco said. “Maybe they will lie again and tell the police that the first statement was accurate. I don’t care. What I care about is that my client, who has never been in trouble in his life, is being forced to surrender on a (expletive) 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 said 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 Times in a phone interview that the department had not been provided new information from witnesses and added that the warrant for Dunbar’s arrest 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.”
While Dunbar had yet to turn himself in as of 7:30 a.m. Saturday, the other player given charges in the incident — New York Giants cornerback DeAndre Baker — had surrendered . Baker’s lawyer, Bradford Cohen, made the announcement via Instagram that Baker had turned himself in.
Rues 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 told The Times, “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 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’ Twitter account.
In a phone interview with The Times, Grieco called the Miramar Police Department “second rate” and added 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 that, calling Grieco’s statement to The Miami Herald — that the department was excited to arrest an NFL player — “uncalled for.” She said the department tried to minimize attention, doing no on-camera or radio interviews and answering phone calls only to address 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 post 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 said.
Cohen, released a statement via Instagram Friday night stating his client’s innocence but also thanking the Miramar Police Department “for being professional.” As did Grieco, Cohen wrote that he had affidavits from “several” witnesses that he said dispute the allegations and “exculpate our client.” He said they had been presented to the judge.
News of the warrant for Dunbar’s arrest on four counts of armed robbery broke Thursday afternoon, at which time Baker was also reported as wanted on four counts of aggravated assault.
The two, with another man whose identity has not been revealed, were said to have taken more than $12,000 in cash and $61,000 in watches from men at a party Wednesday night in Miramar, about 17 miles north of Dunbar’s native Miami.
One of the men told police that Dunbar and Baker had lost roughly $70,000 gambling two days prior, painting the incident as a possible attempt to get back what they had lost.
The police report said one of the witnesses, identified as Dominick Johnson, had known Baker and Dunbar “since they were children” and added he stated that each was at the party. Johnson was among those quoted in the report as saying 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, police said a witness stated, positioned in a manner that suggested a quick getaway and that the robbery might 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 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 draft pick, in part because Dunbar had grown unhappy with his contract situation in Washington.
Friday’s NFL transactions, which list all moves as of 1 p.m., did not show any Seahawks roster moves.
In what became an odd sidelight to the news of the warrants Thursday, Dunbar talked to media members 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 surfaced of the charges.
The call lasted roughly 14 minutes, and Dunbar — who said he was doing the call from his residence in 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 independent of 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 be at risk of significant suspensions by 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 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. That is the last year on his contract, and his hope is that he will play well enough in 2020 to compel the Seahawks to sign him to a longer, richer contract for 2021 and beyond, or set himself up to get one in free agency a year from now.
None of his 2020 salary 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 2018 after a report of a domestic-violence incident.
A review of police records by The Seattle Times shows Dunbar has had more than 20 traffic violations the past few years but no infractions of a more serious nature. The Miami Herald reported 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.