Michigan State football players face felony, misdemeanor charges from Michigan Stadium tunnel incident

Matt Charboneau
The Detroit News

Almost four weeks after Michigan State and Michigan players were involved in a postgame altercation in the tunnel at Michigan Stadium, the Washtenaw County Prosecutor on Wednesday announced charges, including a felony, against seven Michigan State players.

A group of Michigan State players surround what appears to be Michigan defensive back Ja'Den McBurrows, with some appearing to throw punches.

Redshirt sophomore safety Khary Crump, who was seen on video swinging his helmet at a Michigan player, was charged with one count of felonious assault, which is punishable by up to four years in prison and a fine of up to $2,000.

Six other players including redshirt sophomore Itayvion Brown, junior Angelo Grose, redshirt junior Justin White, senior Brandon Wright, freshman Zion Young and senior Jacoby Windmon were charged with one count of aggravated assault, a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in prison or a fine up to $1,000, or both.

All seven players have been suspended indefinitely by Michigan State coach Mel Tucker since the incident, as had freshman Malcolm Jones. Jones was not charged.

The investigation stems from the moments after Michigan’s 29-7 victory over Michigan State on Oct. 29. As Michigan State’s players headed up the tunnel to their locker room, two separate altercations broke out. One included Crump, as an ABC video released several days after the game showed him swinging his helmet at Michigan’s Gemon Green. Michigan State’s Windmon also appears to be involved in the altercation with Green.

In another video published by The News, Michigan’s Ja’Den McBurrows is seen being thrown to the floor as Brown, Grose and Young appear to be punching and kicking McBurrows, before he jumps back to his feet.

Within two days, Tucker had suspended eight players and the University of Michigan Police were in the midst of the investigation.

By Nov. 12, the investigation was complete and had been handed over to the prosecutor.

Mike Nichols, the attorney representing Crump, posted a statement on social media Wednesday calling the charges a “gut-punch.”

“Anytime there’s an assault where there is a fight involved, self-defense is always in play,” Nichols said. “All we’re going to do is prepare for trial, look at the discovery, and go from there.

“This was a gut-punch to KJ, being charged the day before Thanksgiving, but he’s going to get through it.”

Lawyer Tom Mars, who is representing Green, said Wednesday's decision was expected.

“Based on the known evidence, I’m not at all surprised by the prosecutor’s decision,” Mars said in a text to The News. “To borrow a quote that’s familiar to most college sports fans, you have to trust the process.”

Attorney David Diamond, who is representing Grose, said it’s time to get Michigan State’s players back on the field.

“While I trust the criminal process system, my client and I are disappointed in the decision to file criminal charges,” Diamond said in a statement provided to The News. “I have been doing this for over 20 years and have litigated several hundred trials and would like to believe this filing is not politically motivated. I have reviewed similar altercations, on and off the field, at both the collegiate and professional levels and cannot find many criminal filings.

“The Michigan Penal Code for aggravated assault requires infliction of serious or aggravated injury. We do not know the true extent of the Michigan player’s injuries and who, if any of the 7, actually and directly caused them, which is the definition of reasonable doubt. Michigan does have a very reasonable diversion program but the facts alleged in the allegations must also be scrutinized.

“It is time to get Angelo and the others back on the field as well.”

Michigan State University interim President Teresa K. Woodruff said MSU would continue to work with any investigative reviews.

“While we do not condone the actions taken by some football players on Oct. 29, we will support our student-athletes through this process,” Woodruff said in a statement. “They are students first, and their academic journey continues. MSU believes strongly in restorative justice practices and the education around harmful actions.

"I do not condone inappropriate behavior by anyone on our campus or when representing MSU. And consequences, which were announced today, are part of a learning environment. But I also believe that as universities, we must make our respective environments safe places for competition. The rivalry between our two schools predates the current presidents and will likely last long into the future.

"But student success is more important than any score and I am committed to working with the University of Michigan to enable that success on the field and in all of the places and spaces where rivalry foreshortens any student's pathway to that success. My commitment is to make changes that are meaningful to that goal and report back to the community before the end of the year."

Tucker and Michigan State athletic director Alan Haller did not respond to requests for comments, nor had the Big Ten by late Wednesday afternoon.

Michigan President Santa J. Ono supported the announcement of charges.

“At the University of Michigan, we appreciate the thoughtful, deliberate approach from the Washtenaw County Prosecutor’s Office to this unfortunate incident,” Ono said in a statement. “We also want to express our concern for all the players involved, especially those who were injured. The University of Michigan will continue to cooperate fully with any additional reviews of this matter.”


Twitter: @mattcharboneau

Staff writer Angelique S. Chengelis contributed.