By Stephanie Taylor
The Tuscaloosa News
A woman who witnessed the dispute between Marlon Humphrey and an Uber driver that led to Humphrey’s arrest testified in court Thursday that the driver was the aggressor, and talked about how he wanted money from the NFL player.
Humphrey, a former Alabama football player, is a defensive back with the NFL’s Baltimore Ravens.
The dispute occurred during the early morning hours of Jan. 13 after the driver dropped off Humphrey, 21, and a woman at Hotel Capstone on Bryant Drive. The driver, 30, said Humphrey took his phone charger and became aggressive when he asked him to return it.
University of Alabama Police responded to the hotel and returned the charger to the driver, without filing any charges against Humphrey.
A University of Alabama police officer testified at the Thursday hearing that the driver called police between 10 and 15 times during the hours after the incident, saying he wanted to press charges. He ultimately spoke to a magistrate and had a warrant issued for Humphrey’s arrest on a third-degree robbery charge.
“He seemed to become more alarmed as the incident unfolded,” UAPD Investigator Hunter Christian testified during the preliminary hearing. “He was very anxious to move forward with this.”
The hearing in Tuscaloosa County District Court was held to determine whether there’s probable cause to prosecute Humphrey on the felony charge. Judge Joanne Jannik said she would issue an order after considering the evidence and testimony presented at the hearing.
“I feel Judge Jannik will look at the evidence and see this case for what it is,” said Tuscaloosa attorney Paul Patterson, who is representing Humphrey along with attorney Chuck Malone. “It’s these types of cases that clog up our system. It’s a $3 phone charger, it was mistakenly picked up and given back the same night.”
The driver picked up Humphrey and the three women from Waffle House on the Strip after they had been at Rounders Bar. He dropped off Humphrey and one woman at the hotel on Bryant Drive before driving the other two women to their residence.
The witness, 21, testified that the driver became angry when Humphrey exited the car, saying he had damaged a speaker and wanted him to pay $200 for it. The driver told police that Humphrey had grabbed a charger and damaged his sign and charging port. The police report doesn’t mention a speaker.
The driver said Humphrey elbowed him and “balled up his fist and acted like he wanted to fight,” and “took a fighting stance,” according to police. The driver showed no signs of visible injuries, police said.
The witness, however, said the driver got out of the car with his fist clenched, and that Humphrey’s move seemed defensive.
“Marlon put his arm up in, what I would say, self-defense,” she said. “I honestly thought the Uber driver was going to punch Marlon.”
She also said she used her phone to record the driver saying he would “beat the (expletive] out of Marlon.”
She said everyone had been drinking that night but that she remembered “110 percent” everything that happened.
Uber drivers can bill the customer’s account in case items are taken or if cleaning is required.
Patterson said he is hopeful the judge will dismiss the case.
“It’s going to be interesting the way it turns out,” he said. “Judge Jannik gave us a very fair hearing. Hopefully we’ll have a ruling in the next few days.”