LEXINGTON, Ky. – Five of the six acquitted by a grand jury on burglary charges last year have led the investigation into a March 2021 incident at a private off-campus party in Lexington.
Reuben Adams, Juthan McClain, Vito Tisdale, Joel Williams And Andrew Phillips Corey Vinlove sued the charges, saying he “set out on a journey” to frame them for a crime they didn’t commit, knowing there was no probable cause to indict them. The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court, names Officer Donnell Gordon, Police Chief Lawrence Weathers and the Lexington-Fayette County city government as defendants.
Only the injured Tisdale, McClain and Phillips remain with the No. 8 Wildcats.
In a statement, Elliot Slossar, a lawyer for the Chicago-based civil rights organization Lovey & Lovey, said the lawsuit was “another tragic example of the damage done by police in America.”
Slossar, one of four attorneys listed in the players’ complaint, added, “The lawsuit shows that these five young black men are determined to grind a white officer down and make a name for themselves.”
The players, including Earnest Sanders IV, were charged with first-degree theft in August 2021. Tisdale is charged with first degree endangerment after pointing a gun at one of the victims.
A grand jury in Fayette County declined to indict all of the charges last September, and the players were reinstated after being suspended from team activity pending their case.
The players are seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages along with attorneys’ fees. A message left with Lexington police Wednesday night was not immediately returned.
The indictment alleges that Vinlove made false accusations to “advance his own career” and to raise the profile of the University of Kentucky and its players ahead of the Southeastern Conference media day.
“Make no mistake, the pursuit of defendants (individual players) and others was never a pursuit of the truth,” the lawsuit said, adding that the evidence was “false, flimsy and fabricated.”