Athletes’ charges dropped

Charges have been dropped against the five varsity athletes involved in an altercation outside of Gourmet Heaven that caused $3,500 worth of damage to the popular Broadway eatery.

Officials from the New Haven Superior Court said all of the charges against the athletes, including breach of peace in the second and third degrees and criminal mischief in the third degree, were dropped on Friday. New Haven Police officers arrested football players Michael McLeod ’09 and Matthew Polhemus ’08 and hockey players Bradley Mills ’07, Matthew Nelson ’09 and Alexander Richards ’09 in the early morning hours of Oct. 1 after Gourmet Heaven manager Mohammed Masaud called the police to report a fight that had broken out in front of the store.

The court told the athletes the charges had been dropped after a mediation was held between the football and hockey players, said Mills, a forward for the hockey team.

“The police kind of blew the whole thing out of proportion, and we had a mediation with one of the officers at the court,” he said. “Everything was cool between us and the football guys, so they realized that everything was all right. I had talked to both Matt Polhemus and Mike McLeod myself before and everything was fine, so it was procedural, I guess.”

Polhemus, the starting quarterback for the football team, said the news came as a great relief to him and his teammates.

“I’m just glad it’s over,” he said. “It’s definitely been a big learning experience for me.”

Polhemus declined to comment on how University and team administrators responded to his arrest and acquittal, but he said the surprisingly large amount of attention surrounding the incident made him realize the severity of his actions and their consequences.

“I realize I’m kind of in the spotlight by the fact that the national news picked this up,” he said. “I learned to stay out of trouble and just be smart because I definitely represent the school and the team, and I don’t want to let anyone down.”

Despite the media attention devoted to the arrests ­— including coverage by ESPN — the University has yet to take any disciplinary action against the players. Yale Director of Athletics Tom Beckett had said, in an interview at the time of the arrest, that the administration was waiting the until the outcome of the criminal case was known before making decisions about the fate of the players.

Richards declined to comment Sunday evening, and McLeod and Nelson could not be reached for comment.

According to Connecticut statute, the students will be able to swear under oath that they have not been arrested because the charges were dropped. In addition to the arrests being removed from their records, Polhemus said, those involved were not fined and did not need to pay Gourmet Heaven for the property damage caused by the fight.

Football team captain Chandler Henley ’07 declined to comment on the decision to drop charges. But following the incident, he told the News he thought the fight was probably the result of a misunderstanding between the players.

All of the athletes involved were originally charged with breach of peace in the second degree, and all except Polhemus had also been charged with criminal mischief in the third degree.

McLeod is the football team’s star running back and last year’s Ivy League Rookie of the Year. Mills and Nelson are both forwards on the men’s ice hockey team, and Richards is the team’s star goalie.

The football team has been victorious in both of the games it played after the arrests and will next face the University of Pennsylvania at home on Saturday. The hockey team will play its season opener on Oct. 27 against Holy Cross.

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