BY EDGAR THOMPSON
ORLANDO – Troubled Gators sophomore linebacker Antonio Morrison has been suspended at least two games following his second arrest in a little more than a month.
Morrison, the team’s starting middle linebacker, was arrested on Sunday morning for harassing a police animal, according to a Gainesville Police Department report.
This comes on the heels of Morrison’s June 16 arrest for punching a bouncer at a Gainesville bar.
Following his latest arrest, Morrison was booked into Gainesville’s Alachua County Jail at 4:15 a.m. Sunday.
Around noon, Gators coach Will Muschamp announced on the football program’s Twitter account that Morrison would be suspended for at least the first two games of the season.
Barked at ‘Bear’
The Gators open the season with an Aug. 31 visit from Toledo before traveling to Miami to face the Hurricanes on Sept. 7.
“I’m extremely disappointed in Antonio Morrison’s decision making,” Muschamp said on Twitter.
According to the police report, Morrison was in the vicinity when Gainesville Police responded to a disturbance near the All Star Sports Bar — the site of dozens of law enforcement calls in recent months.
Per the report, Officer William A. Arnold had a police K9 named “Bear” in the car. Morrison walked over to the vehicle and began to bark at the dog.
Officer Arnold stated Morrison’s actions prevented police from doing its job properly, so Arnold asked Morrison to step to the front of the vehicle. Morrison resisted when the officer tried to handcuff him, the report states.
Released on Sunday
Two other deputies arrived and helped handcuff Morrison after he repeatedly was told to stop resisting. The report states Morrison, 19, told Arnold he made a “woof-woof” sound because the K9 officer had barked several times at him first.
Morrison was arrested on misdemeanor charges of interfering with a police animal and resisting arrest without violence. He appeared before a judge at 9 a.m. Sunday and was released on his own recognizance.
Morrison was out of jail by Sunday afternoon.
In addition to his suspension, the incident could jeopardize Morrison’s pending agreement with the court.
The native of Chicago, Morrison accepted a deferred prosecution 12 days after his June 16 arrest for simple battery.
If Morrison fulfilled the terms of the agreement in six months, he would be cleared of charges in connection with a bar fight.
Last week, Muschamp said he was disappointed in Morrison’s behavior and in the process of disciplining him. At the time, the third-year coach pointed to his history of handling off-the-field issues with a firm hand.
“I think my track record speaks for itself,” Muschamp said. “We have consequences if a guy makes a poor decision. When a young man makes a poor decision there’s a litany of things that I make them (do to) work themselves back.
“If they’re not willing to do that, they’re out of the program.”
The 6-foot-1, 240-pound Morrison is a key member of a rebuilding defense this season.
He started three games last season while Jelani Jenkins battled injuries and finished 2012 with 34 tackles — most among Gators’ freshmen.