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Tribune News Service
Tribune News Service
Kallie Cox and Roderick Boone

Police: Hornets' James Bouknight had gun, was passed out in car before arrest in Charlotte

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Additional details from a police report on Charlotte Hornets guard James Bouknight’s arrest from Sunday show he was found unconscious in his car in an uptown parking deck and had a gun. He was charged with driving while impaired, according to Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office arrest records.

According to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police report, Bouknight was found just before 1 a.m. in a multi-story parking garage connected to apartments, a grocery store and the Stonewall Station light rail stop. Police radio communications, obtained from Broadcastify, indicate first responders from Medic, Charlotte Fire and CMPD attempted to rouse Bouknight and have him open the locked car.

When officers ran his car’s tag and ownership information, they learned Bouknight was the owner and that he had a pending concealed carry permit. Open carry is allowed under North Carolina law in cases where the gun is considered legal and the person is not banned from having a firearm.

The Charlotte Observer reported Monday that Bouknight had been released on a $2,500 bond. Sheriff’s records show the 22-year-old was arrested by CMPD just before 2 a.m. Sunday.

Bouknight prior arrests

Already, Bouknight was expected to appear in court in North Carolina later this month for a previous violation. Bouknight has several pending charges in Cabarrus County from November, including speeding and reckless driving. He was cited for driving 107 mph in a 65-mph zone, public records show.

Bouknight also has charges pending from at least two other times he was stopped in Mecklenburg County, according to court records.

Last Wednesday, according to court records, he was ticketed for driving 92 in a 50-mph zone, cited for both speeding and reckless driving. And he was ticketed in February for reckless driving. In both cases, his court date is set for December, records show.

And a Mecklenburg County district attorney spokesperson confirmed Monday that a charge from November is also pending against Bouknight, involving a speeding offense of driving 84 mph in a 35-mph zone. In that instance, his case was one of close to 16,000 in Mecklenburg mistakenly dismissed by an error with the state’s record-keeping system but has since been reinstated, the official said.

Bouknight was with the team at practice Monday. After, Hornets coach Steve Clifford was asked by The Charlotte Observer’s Roderick Boone about Bouknight’s arrest just two days before the season opener.

“That’s this league, you know what I mean? I was told a long time ago, if you want to enjoy coaching, understand that a lot more things go wrong every day than go right,” Clifford said. “It’s just the kind of job that it is. It’s part of coaching at every level and again it’s why we’re fortunate that we have depth and we have a lot of guys who are capable of playing well.”

Hornets players' arrests

This is the latest in a series of arrests for the Hornets.

Earlier this year, Hornets’ forward Miles Bridges was arrested in Los Angeles on domestic-violence related charges. And, Montrezl Harrell, who signed with Philadelphia as an unrestricted free agent last month, was facing felony drug charges stemming from a May traffic stop in Kentucky, The Observer previously reported.

Harrell pleaded guilty in August to an amended misdemeanor charge of possession of marijuana stemming from the stop. The plea, according to WLEX in Lexington, Ky., carries a 30-day conditional charge that’s probated for 12 months, meaning Harrell would be required to serve 30 days in jail if he is involved in any legal trouble over the next calendar year.

Monday afternoon the Hornets released the following statement: “We are aware of the incident involving James Bouknight and are in the process of gathering additional information. We will have no further comment at this time.”

While at the University of Connecticut, ESPN reported Bouknight was charged for fleeing the scene of a crash. The report said he smelled of alcohol.

Bouknight has been involved in a couple of noteworthy incidents since he arrived in Charlotte. The most publicized was his sideline spat with former coach James Borrego during a game against Miami in February, leading to a breaking point. He appeared in just three of the Hornets’ final 22 games following the confrontation. None of his on-court time during those last three outings was meaningful — a change from weeks earlier in the season when he was a part of the rotation while some players were out due to the NBA’s health and safety COVID protocols.

Days after the episode with Borrego and during the All-Star break in February, Bouknight was ejected by a game official from a University of Connecticut men’s basketball game for standing on the court with his cellphone. He re-emerged after sneaking back into the arena to sit in the student section, causing a scene captured on social media.

In an interview with the Observer last month, Bouknight said he was in a better place mentally after his tough rookie season.

“Honestly, I don’t feel a lot of athletes have gone through a lot of adversity,” Bouknight said. “A lot of athletes don’t know what it’s like to be down mentally or in a slump. And I know what it feels like. I was there all last year. It’s awesome to be out of that and in a groove again and like myself again. There’s nothing like it.”

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