March 21, 2024

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Alabama Basketball Manager Says He, Not Player, Was at Deadly Shooting

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Alabama Basketball Manager Says He, Not Player, Was at Deadly Shooting

After The Times placed him at a crime scene, a rookie player filed a lawsuit. Its reporting will be updated by the newspaper.

A student manager for the Alabama men’s basketball team revealed on Friday that he had been a passenger in Brandon Miller’s car during a shooting in Tuscaloosa in January. The fatality was one, and Mr. In the episode, which involved numerous vehicles, Miller’s car was struck by stray bullets.

Cooper Lee, the manager, confirmed to The New York Times that he had been at the crime scene after another player, Kai Spears, sued the publication this week for having written in March that he had been in Mr. When bullets pierced Miller’s car’s windshield, the incident occurred.

Mr. Spears has denied being in the car and said in the lawsuit that being falsely identified as the passenger “will forever label him as a person associated with a murder.” For the first time, it was revealed in the lawsuit, which asks for damages for defamation and invasion of privacy, that Mr. Lee snuck up on Mr. at 1:40 in the morning, Miller’s vehicle. on Jan. 15, only a short time before the shooting.

“I can confirm that I was the passenger in Brandon Miller’s car at the time of the shooting,” 21-year-old Mr. Lee stated in an email to The Times. In addition to confirming that Mr. Lee was present, Mr. Lee, who is not charged, declined to make any additional comments. In the vehicle, Spears was not. He is a majoring in sports management and hospitality at the university, according to his LinkedIn profile.

The article would be amended, according to Danielle Rhoades Ha, a Times spokeswoman.

“We have a longstanding policy of correcting errors,” she said in a statement. “We believe our original story was inaccurate and intend to add an editor’s note to the piece in light of the affidavit’s information and fresh reporting from our newsroom.”

As a result of the shooting, two people have been charged with capital murder: Darius Miles, who joined the team at the beginning of the season, and his friend Michael Davis, who is suspected of firing the fatal shots that killed Jamea Harris, 23, a passenger in a second car. Miles entered a not-guilty plea, and Mr. Davis is vying for the designation of young offender.

Mr. Miller is most likely going to be selected highly in the NBA. draft, and The incident occurred as bars along University Boulevard’s Strip, a popular gathering place close to campus, started to empty out. Mr. Lee was not hurt and has not been charged in connection with it.

The murder of Ms. Harris attracted a lot of attention because it happened when the University of Alabama team, the Crimson Tide, was ranked highly and in contention for a national championship. Players who were present at the crime scene continued to dress for games while authorities conducted their investigation, drawing attention to Alabama’s handling of the case in the months that followed.

On March 15, two months after the incident, The Times reported that Mr. Spears, a walk-on for the team as a freshman, had been in Mr. During the shooting, Miller’s car. The Times cited an individual familiar with the investigation who revealed the identity of Mr. Miller’s passenger under the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive issues.

When asked a few questions in the changing rooms, Mr. Spears was quoted by The Times as saying, “I apologize, but I won’t be able to talk about that.”

However, after the article appeared online, Mr. The Times revised the article to reflect the statements made by Spears, his family, and the university that the account was false.

An Alabama athletics spokeswoman said at the time that “based on the information we have, there were no current student-athletes present at the scene other than Brandon Miller and Jaden Bradley,” a player who was in a third car near the shooting. Greg Byrne, the university’s director of athletics, claimed in a statement that Mr. Spears was present.

And Mr. Spears’s father, Christian Spears, who works at Marshall University as athletic director, said in a statement on Marshall’s athletic website that he was “disappointed in the irresponsible and demonstrably false reporting by the NY Times.”

In the lawsuit, which was submitted on Wednesday in federal court in Alabama, attorneys for Mr. On March 20, Spears asked The Times to retract something, but the publication declined.

Mr. Spears was “wrongfully thrust into nationwide news,” leading to emotional distress for being linked to a “criminal event,” the suit states.

The legal proceeding gave rise to Mr.’s first-ever public accounting. Spears was during the shooting, according to a sworn statement from a visiting high school friend and exchanges from FaceTime video calls with Mr. Bradley, who later changed colleges to Arizona University.

Following Alabama’s victory over Louisiana State on Jan. 14, Before going back to his dorm to prepare for a night out, which included dining with Mr. Spears, Mr. Spears went to a Waffle House for breakfast with two high school friends who were in town from Clemson University. According to the lawsuit and the friend’s sworn statement, Dylan Serafini, Miller was at a barbecue restaurant close to the Strip.

In the barbecue joint, Mr. Spears and Mr. spoke on FaceTime. Bradley, along with Mr. Miller enquired as to whether Mr. Spears and his companions would like to remain outside. The late hour and Mr.’s request were reasons they declined. Spears and his classmates from high school left for home, and Mr. Along with the team manager, Mr. Miller got into his car. Lee, the suit says.

Mr. Spears was back on FaceTime with Mr. in a matter of minutes. According to the lawsuit, Miller and Mr. Bradley inquired as to their final destination. When he found out that shots had been fired at Mr. Miller’s car and the young men were “frantic.”

“Jaden Bradley was upset and shows Kai on FaceTime Brandon Miller’s windshield with bullet holes and tells Kai Spears he must call him later,” In his sworn testimony, Mr. Serafini said.

The Alabama athletic department cited a March statement in which the athletic director claimed that both Mr. Bradley and Mr. Miller had not been accused of any wrongdoing or broken any rules of the university and were cooperating witnesses.


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