Los Angeles Rams draft pick Tyler Higbee will be arraigned in a Kentucky courtroom Thursday on charges that stem from an altercation outside a club on April 10.
Higbee, who played tight end at Western Kentucky University, will plead not guilty to second-degree assault, second-degree evading police and public intoxication charges, his lawyer, Brian Lowder, told USA TODAY Sports.
Higbee was one of the more highly rated tight end prospects going into the draft, though there's little doubt the April event raised some red flags for front offices heading into draft weekend.
Rams Draft WKU TE Tyler Higbee
Rams Draft WKU TE Tyler Higbee
The details of the altercation itself remain in dispute. Differing witness reports as well as those from Higbee and his girlfriend who was with him at the time of the altercation paint different stories leading up to the assault. Some suggest Higbee had nearly already been in one fight earlier that evening. There is no confirmation on what started the fight either as witness accounts differ on that as well. There are also conflicting stories as to whether Higbee was shouting multiple racial slurs before the altercation, though Higbee did confess to using one after the attack.
What's known is that Higbee punched a young man, Nawaf Alsaleh, in Bowling Green, Kentucky, on April 10. Higbee's punch resulted in Alsaleh, a student at WKU, hitting his head on the pavement causing a brain hemorrhage. Alsaleh was taken to a hospital in Nashville where he was treated for multiple days while being listed in serious condition. He was ultimately upgraded and released after being treated.
After speaking with multiple witnesses and identifying Higbee as a possible suspect, the BGPD officer saw Higbee and two other subjects walking near United Furniture on State Street, according to the police report.
The officer searched for the subjects until observing them again running through the parking lot of Mellow Mushroom toward East 11th Avenue.
"I engaged in a foot pursuit and yelled loudly, 'Police, stop! Police, stop!' " the officer wrote in the report.
As the officer continued his pursuit, the subjects continued to move away back toward State Street, according to the report. Higbee "concealed himself behind a small tree line that borders the parking lot of the First Christian Church parking lot" before the officer made contact with all parties, according to the report.
Higbee's attorney released a statement shortly thereafter that noted Higbee's lack of any notable events of a criminal nature prior to the assault while pointing out Alsaleh's lengthier history with the police:
"Mr. Higbee is a great young man and has an exemplary record with no criminal history other than a traffic violation. On the other hand, Mr. Alsaleh has a documented history of poor decisions while under the influence of alcohol including two recent DUIs wherein he blew more than twice the legal limit. Mr. Alsaleh currently has an active warrant pertaining to one of his charges."
Higbee shone in his senior season in 2015 with 38 receptions for 563 yards and eights TDs in Western Kentucky's high-tempo offense led by QB Brandon Doughty who was also drafted in the seventh round by the Miami Dolphins.