Lawyer claims Michigan player started postgame tunnel incident with Michigan State

A lawyer representing a suspended Michigan State football player alleges a Michigan player started one of the Oct. 29 postgame altercations in the tunnel.

David Diamond, a California-based attorney who spoke with MLive on Tuesday afternoon, said the Michigan player put his helmet on and his head down as if he was going to “charge” at Michigan State players in the tunnel after the Wolverines won 29- 7 in a heated rivalry game.

“It’s our claim that he tried to throw the first punch,” Diamond said. “Whether it connected or not, we’re not there yet.”

Diamond would not identify the Michigan State player he is representing nor the Michigan player he alleges threw the first punch as the University of Michigan Police Department continues to lead the investigation, which could result in criminal charges.

Melissa Overton, deputy chief of police and public information officer for the University of Michigan Police, told MLive on Tuesday they hope to have the investigation completed by the end of the week.

“Right now, I’m not going to name the (Michigan) player but we will in due time,” Diamond said. “We’ll release our independent investigative report.”

Eight Michigan State players were suspended indefinitely for their roles in the incidents following the loss at Michigan. The teams were separated on the field and two Michigan players – defensive backs Gemon Green and Ja’Den McBurrows – went up the tunnel at the same time as the Spartans.

Although it’s still unclear what started the altercations, video evidence shows Michigan State defensive back Khary Crump swinging his helmet at Green. Michigan State linebacker/defensive end Jacoby Windmon put his helmet back on and engaged with Green while he was being hit. (Diamond said his unnamed client was not involved in swinging a helmet.)

In a separate incident, McBurrows was surrounded and pushed and struck by Michigan State defensive end Zion Young, linebacker Itayvion “Tank” Brown and defensive back Angelo Grose. Defensive backs Justin White and Malcolm Jones and defensive end Brandon Wright also were also part of that incident.

Brown, Crump, Grose, Young, Jones, White, Windmon and Wright all are suspended indefinitely and Michigan State coach Mel Tucker apologized for what happened while not commenting on specifics due to the ongoing police investigation.

Diamond said their own investigation is based on video evidence and statements from people who were in the tunnel.

“Right now we’re trying to ascertain if there’s any video evidence before the altercation started,” he said, “which is often difficult because, as you know, people usually don’t turn their cameras on until something’s already started.”

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh believes criminal charges should be filed against Michigan State players involved and Green’s family hired prominent attorney Tom Mars, who said Green suffered a concussion and other injuries. Diamond believes the public perception of the image has been slanted to favor the Wolverines and no Michigan players have been publicly disciplined.

“Everyone’s been hearing from one side,” Diamond said, “and our goal is to help law enforcement, prosecutors and the public understand that this clearly has two sides to the story.”

Diamond doesn’t believe criminal charges should be filed and doesn’t intend on pursuing civil litigation. He said it’s fortunate nobody was seriously hurt but believes “it’s time to move on” from what transpired.

“This is a football game and whether it happens on the field or in the tunnel, that should be the end of it,” Diamond said. “We’ve seen much worse on a lot of other football games with both teams participating, benches clearing, fists thrown and there’s never been criminal filings. For something of this nature, which is much more minor in comparison to what anybody can Google when they search out a football fight, certainly if there was no charges in those incidents, there should be no criminal charges in this case.”

MORE: Tunnel fight, suspensions put stain on Mel Tucker, Michigan State’s season

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