Georgia Bulldogs star Jalen Carter has been booked and released after he posted bond following news local authorities had issued warrants for his arrest in connection to a fatal car crash.
At 11:33pm ET on Wednesday night, Carter was booked for reckless driving and racing on highways and streets before he was released at 11:49 p.m. after posting a $4,000 bond, according to online records.
Back in January, Georgia university confirmed both Devin Willock and staff member Chandler LeCroy were killed in the crash in Athens. Willock was a redshirt sophomore who hailed from New Milford, New Jersey and started two games on the offensive line for the Bulldogs as they won the College Football Playoff this season.
It was confirmed Willock died at the scene at 20 years of age while LeCroy, who was driving, was transported to a local hospital by ambulance but died as a result of her injuries. The ongoing investigation into the January 15 crash led to the Athens-Clarke County Police Department issuing arrest warrants for Carter as he attended the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.
Carter had been set to talk on Wednesday at the combine as part of his media availability, but a league spokesperson later told reporters that the 21-year-old would not be speaking because he and five other players were still conducting physicals. Carter is believed by many to be the best defensive player in the upcoming 2023 NFL Draft and was touted to be in line to be selected first overall. He has since released a statement insisting he is innocent and will work to clear his name with authorities.
His statement read: “This morning I received a telephone call from the Athens Georgia Police Department informing me that two misdemeanour warrants have been issued against me for reckless driving and racing. Numerous media reports have also circulated this morning containing inaccurate information concerning the tragic events of January 15 2023.
“It is my intention to return to Athens to answer the misdemeanour charges against me and to make certain that the complete and accurate truth is presented. There is no question in my mind that when all of the facts are known that I will be fully exonerated of any criminal wrongdoing.”
According to the official police report, LeCroy and Carter were driving their vehicles in ‘a matter consistent with racing’ shortly after leaving downtown Athens in the early hours of Sunday morning. The investigation allegedly discovered both vehicles switched between lanes, drove in the centre turn lane, drove in opposite lanes of travel, overtook other motorists and drove at high speeds in what is deemed to be an attempt to outdistance one another.
Investigators have since determined that alcohol impairment, racing, reckless driving and speed were the significant contributing factors to the crash. The official police report claims the case has now been given to the Solicitor General’s Office.
There is no precedent for the NFL punishing a player before he has entered the league, but Carter could certainly be held on a tighter leash going forwards, according to ESPN reporter Dan Graziano. The defensive star could face stricter charges should he run into any disciplinary issues down the line.
Graziano said: "I just spoke to somebody with the league and asked 'can players face disciplinary action for things that went on prior to their entry into the league?' Generally that answer has historically been no, but there are a lot of grey areas. Since this incident is so close to now and his time being drafted, I believe the league will have to look into it.
"There's not a historic precedent for them disciplining a player or suspending a player prior to his entry into the league, but again there is a grey area and it certainly can be held against him further down the road."
The fatal crash came hours after the team celebrated winning back-to-back national championships with a parade and ceremony at Sanford Stadium. Georgia had defeated TCU 65-7 in the College Football Playoff National Championship in Los Angeles.