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Smith arrested after BB gun flap
By SHANNON COLAVECCHIO-VAN SICKLER
Published March 2, 2005
TAMPA - For the second time in as many years, the Bucs' Dwight Smith has been arrested amid allegations he lost his cool and pulled a weapon on a fellow motorist.
This time Smith drew what turned out to be a black BB gun on two young men as he waited in the drive-through line of a Northdale McDonald's shortly before 4 a.m. Tuesday, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.
Smith's attorney, Kevin Hayslett of Clearwater, said his client never touched the BB gun. Smith is being targeted by two young men who made up a story after they recognized Smith as a wealthy football player, Hayslett said.
"The evidence will come out that my client didn't even have the gun," Hayslett said. For now, the charge against Smith stands. He was booked into the county jail on one count of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, a third-degree felony. Within a few hours of his arrest Smith posted $2,000 bond and was released.
Because of his earlier arrest, Smith, who becomes a free agent today, is subject to a suspension by the NFL if found guilty of the latest charges.
"Let the legal process take its course of whether he's guilty or not," Bucs general manager Bruce Allen said. "If he's guilty he's going to face other discipline (from the NFL), other than what the courts give him." Sheriff's spokeswoman Debbie Carter said the incident began at 3:52 a.m., when Smith and three passengers sat in the drive-through line of the McDonald's at 15698 N Dale Mabry Highway. The occupants of a Mitsubishi in line recognized Smith as a Buccaneer, she said.
Mitsubishi driver Trevor Boyce Jr., 19, and passenger Javier Joseph Jr., 22, got out of the car and walked up to Smith's. They tried talking to Smith, 26, but he "got annoyed" and pulled out the BB gun, Carter said.
Smith's front-seat passenger, 26-year-old David Roston, got out and punched Boyce in the face, according to a sheriff's report.
Boyce and Joseph got back into their car and left, and they called authorities. Deputies stopped Smith as he left the McDonald's, Carter said.
They searched his BMW and found a black Powerline BB gun. Smith was arrested on the aggravated assault charge. Roston was charged with battery and released on his own recognizance, Carter said. According to jail and state criminal records, Roston lives with Smith at 15003 Lake Emerald Blvd. in the gated Carrollwood subdivision Deer Park.
State records also show Joseph and Bryce have been arrested in Hillsborough County on charges ranging from larceny to battery. Carter said there is no indication the young men harassed Smith. Hayslett said Boyce and Joseph were among people waiting in line, "being boisterous" and "giving the McDonald's staff a hard time." "This is a classic case of cuss words back and forth, and "Do you want a piece of me?' " Hayslett said. "They took their shirts off like this was West Side Story and they wanted to rumble."
Only then did they recognize Smith as a Buc, his attorney said. Smith joined the Bucs in 2001 as a cornerback, signing a four-year, $1.8-million contract. He now plays safety. During the Bucs' Super Bowl victory against the Raiders after the 2002 season, Smith became the first defender in Super Bowl history to return a pair of interceptions for touchdowns. Four months after that, Smith was arrested in Clearwater after police said he pulled a loaded 9mm handgun on another driver. Smith pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of improperly displaying a firearm and was sentenced to a year's probation and 25 hours of community service, plus eight hours of anger management counseling. The NFL fined him $22,000. He also had to turn over his 9mm.
Staff writers Rick Stroud and Josh Zimmer and researchers Kitty Bennett and Cathy Wos contributed to this report.