Former University of Georgia basketball player Brandon Morris said Monday that he is innocent of the felony-level marijuana possession charges that led to his being dismissed from the team.
Morris, a 20-year-old who started 45 games during his first two years with the team, told the Athens Banner-Herald that the drugs found Sunday morning in his car in downtown Athens did not belong to him.
‚ÄúI‚Äôm innocent. That‚Äôs really all I want to elaborate on. Just know the marijuana and the scales were not mine and the person who‚Äôs it was will be showing his face in court with me,‚Äù Morris said when contacted by a reporter. ‚ÄúThat charge won‚Äôt get thrown at me. I‚Äôm getting a good lawyer so I can put this all behind me.‚Äù
Athens-Clarke police charged Morris with possession of marijuana with intent to sell after about 18 grams of marijuana and a digital scale were found inside a bookbag that an officer saw in Morris‚Äô car, according to a police report.
Morris, a rising junior, is from Lithonia and played at Miller Grove High School in DeKalb County. During the 2013-14 UGA season, he was suspended for three games for an undisclosed reason.
‚ÄúThis program has a strong expectation of citizenship and every one of our players understands this,‚Äù Georgia coach Mark Fox said in a statement released Monday in connection with the Sunday arrest of Morris. ‚ÄúThis expectation does not mean that mistakes will not happen. When they do I always deal with them appropriately. Brandon had a very clear understanding of our expectation. Unfortunately, I‚Äôve had to dismiss him from our team. We‚Äôve offered Brandon as much help as we can as he leaves, in hope that he can continue his career somewhere else.‚Äù
Morris said he spoke with Fox on Monday morning regarding the arrest and thinks his dismissal was ordered from a higher level than his coach. ‚ÄúI think it was over him, like [UGA Athletic Director Greg] McGarity and people in that position,‚Äù Morris said.
Morris went on to say he is sorry about the negative publicity the arrest has generated.
‚ÄúI am very sorry,‚Äù he said. ‚ÄúThis is bringing so much attention to the school and it‚Äôs unnecessary. I apologize to the school and to my teammates, the fans, and everybody at Georgia.‚Äù
The incident that led to the arrest began at about 2 a.m. when a police officer saw Morris‚Äô black 2014 Dodge Challenger parked in the motorcycle parking spaces on Broad Street near Jackson Street, according to the police report. The officer wrote that as he approached the car to tell the driver to move, he noted that the windows were partially down and he could smell marijuana.
Morris gave the officer his UGA student identification and was removed from the car as the officer investigated the marijuana smell, police said. When the officer saw a bookbag in the car seat, he reached for it, which prompted Morris to yell ‚Äúthat he did not authorize me to search,‚Äù the officer wrote in his report.
Police said the officer opened the bookbag, which had a strong smell of marijuana, and found what the report described as ‚Äúa significant amount of high grade marijuana.‚Äù The marijuana weighed about 18 grams on the digital scales that were also found in the bag, according to the report.
When Morris was placed in handcuffs, police said a boisterous crowd gathered and began aggressively questioning the reason for his arrest, police said. Because of the potentially hostile situation, police said Morris was ‚Äúvery quickly‚Äù transported to the Clarke County Jail. He was released on a $2,500 bond.
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