In April, City of Miami Police arrested University of Miami star running back Mark Walton in one of the oddest DUI cases in recent South Florida memory. A man resembling Walton, cops said, had pretended to be a cop, pulled a woman over, and allegedly rubbed his genitals on her.
During the investigation of those claims, police arrested Walton — outside that woman's apartment. They said he was driving while drunk, but Walton claims he was set up as part of an illegal sting.
This morning, the 19-year-old football player's DUI charges were dropped.
According to a video posted by 940 AM sports talk-radio host Andy Slater, the state declined to prosecute. Standing in front of a judge, Walton's lawyer, Joey McCall, looked down and smiled to himself.
"I'm not disappointed," he said sarcastically, "but this should have come a lot sooner."
New Times has reached out to McCall for comment, but he has yet to respond. We'll update if we hear back.
Walton's lawyer spoke to Slater, and he went on a tirade against Miami Police. McCall claimed his client had been lured to the woman's home by a group of rogue cops.
"We learned with our own investigation that at least two City of Miami officers, through the alleged victim, lured Mark over to a house, were hidden when he got there, and then rushed him with guns drawn," McCall told Slater. "One officer came from inside the house, and the other officer came from around the side of the house."
McCall then accused the police of conducting an illegal, "warrantless sting." The attorney also added this bombshell: "Based on additional information we received, the alleged victim and at least one of the arresting officers have a personal relationship of some kind and knew each other prior to April 23."
He then bit into the Miami State Attorney's Office for trying to prosecute the case.
"Instead of dropping the charges earlier, the assistant state attorney handling this case contacted my office just days ago asking if Mark would accept a plea agreement to a lesser charge that didn't fit what occurred," he said. "We vehemently said no."
Before his arrest, Walton was a home-cooked Miami star. He grew up in Overtown and attended Booker T. Washington High School. (UM immediately suspended Walton after his arrest.) In May, Uncle Luke demanded Walton's charges be dropped:
"Miami Police helped destroy the reputation of a young man who made it out of Overtown, one of the city's most violent neighborhoods," he wrote. "It's appalling because they know what happens to inner-city children who go the wrong way: They die in the streets. But Walton earned his way to the safety of a prestigious university."
Interestingly, Walton maintains he tried to pull the woman in question over — but not while pretending to be a cop.
Instead, McCall says, the woman had been drinking all night and was swerving all over the road in front of his car. He says he simply tried to stop her to see if she was OK.
Update: The Miami-Dade Office of the State Attorney has released its close-out memo on the case.
"After a thorough review of the evidence, there is not sufficient evidence to prove the charges beyond and to the exclusion of every reasonable doubt," Assistant State Attorney Nicole Garcia wrote.
The memo says that on April 23, police observed Walton "parked improperly in front of a home on the opposite side of traffic" when apprehended. Police said his eyes were "bloodshot" and "watery," that his speech was slurred, and that he smelled of alcohol.
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But, the memo says, the State Attorney's Office could not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Walton actually drove his car not just "under the influence," but "under the influence to the extent that his normal faculties were impaired." After his arrest, Walton blew below a .08 on a Breathalyzer test.
Walton had also been charged with driving with a suspended license. The state says it dropped those charges due to his "substantial compliance" with investigators.
Here's a copy of the memo: