Complaint against Brantley dropped because lack of evidence

Former Florida defensive lineman Caleb Brantley had charges against him dropped by the State Attorney. UPDATED: The battery case against former Florida defensive tackle Caleb Brantley has been dropped due to a lack of evidence, the State Attorney’s Office announced Wednesday in a news release.

Police filed a sworn complaint for misdemeanor battery against Brantley on April 17 on suspicion of punching a 21-year-old woman in the face during an altercation outside a Gainesville bar April 13.

After investigating the case and interviewing multiple witnesses, the State Attorney’s Office determined there was insufficient evidence to arrest or charge Brantley.

“Having reviewed the matter, including interviewing the alleged victim and multiple other witnesses, it is apparent that there is no reliable evidence upon which an arrest or prosecution would be warranted or legally justified, and the sworn complaint is therefore being dismissed,” the release said.

The State Attorney’s Office said the woman, Gainesville resident Chelsea Marie Austin, “had been drinking heavily despite being underaged and was initially un-cooperative and denied having even been assaulted, has little to no memory of anything involved in the incident and cannot provide any credible testimony upon which a prosecution could go forward.“

Prosecutors said witnesses on her behalf also had been drinking and gave contradictory testimony “that calls into serious question the accuracy of what they say. Third, that testimony is significantly contradicted by the statement of Brantley.“

The release also states Austin did not appear to have sustained any serious injuries. In the sworn complaint, Brantley, 22, was charged with punching her in the face and knocking out one of her teeth.

“Reports of a significant injury to the alleged victim are inaccurate and any injury she sustained is relatively minor and inconsistent with any great force having been used against her,” the release states. “In essence, the facts suggest that the alleged victim’s friends engaged Brantley in an unpleasant verbal exchange, during which the alleged victim began to physically punch or assault Brantley, causing him to shove her away.

“It is legally clear that under Florida’s ‘Stand Your Ground’ law Brantley had the legal right to defend himself by pushing away someone who was punching and assaulting him. While it may not be popularly approved of or morally appropriate, that the alleged victim is a female of smaller stature than he does not change that.“

The allegations against Brantley damaged his NFL draft prospects. Originally projected as a second-round pick, he was not taken until the sixth round by the Cleveland Browns last month.

Brantley’s lead attorney, Huntley Johnson, released the following statement: “I’ve spoken with Mr. Brantley. He is both relieved and thankful that this investigation has concluded. He’s looking forward to the next chapter in his life with the Cleveland Browns.”

Austin’s attorney, Tallahassee-based Brandi Thomas, said her firm, Akbar Law Firm, will consider bringing a civil suit against Brantley.

“The State Attorney’s decision not to file charges against Mr. Brantley is disappointing,” Thomas said in a statement. “Ms. Austin still suffers significant injuries caused by Mr. Brantley, both physically and emotionally. […]