Charge against Tennessee football's Bryce Thompson is dismissed after girlfriend testifies
A judge dismissed the charge of misdemeanor domestic assault against Tennessee cornerback Bryce Thompson on Monday after Thompson's girlfriend said she never felt scared during the argument that led to Thompson's arrest and that she wanted the charge dismissed.
A woman who identified herself as Thompson's girlfriend of four years testified that an argument that began with Thompson at Stokely Hall on Aug. 24 proceeded into a stairwell, resulting in University of Tennessee police being called.
"There was no point during the argument that I was scared or felt like he was going to hurt me, and he never touched me," the woman testified Monday during a preliminary hearing. "It just was a little bit louder."
The woman was the only person to testify.
Witnesses told campus police Thompson threatened to "slap the (expletive) out of" the woman during an argument between the two, according to an arrest warrant. Witnesses also said he threatened to "shoot up the school."
Thompson's girlfriend told police that night that Thompson "has a bad temper and has punched walls during past arguments," according to the arrest warrant.
Thompson admitted to police that he had an argument with the woman and that he damaged a gate at the residence hall but denied making any threats or physical contact with the woman.
"There wasn't a crime committed. It had to be dismissed," John Valliant, Thompson's attorney, said Monday after the charge was dismissed. "There is not much more I can say than that. From the very beginning, she has – even on the day of the incident – she said the same thing then that she said today.
"This thing that he was charged with, fear is a key element of it. You have to be afraid that your assailant is going to do you bodily harm."
Thompson, 20, was reinstated to the team on Sept. 11, but he did not play in that weekend's game against Chattanooga.
Thompson's August arrest wasn't the first time he faced allegations of threats toward a woman. A different woman who had a relationship with Thompson filed for a restraining order against him in January 2018. The woman and Thompson agreed to a one-year mutual restraining order in April 2018.
That woman wrote in her filing for a restraining order that Thompson texted her stating that if she dated another man, he “would kill both me and that other guy.” She wrote that she believed Thompson’s threat because “he has a history of violence against me and others. He has physically slapped me, choked me, and thrown me around. I fear for my safety, and am constantly looking over my shoulder.”
The News Sentinel obtained a copy of that restraining order in August via a public records request.
Thompson does not have a criminal record in South Carolina, according to a search of criminal records.
Thompson was a Freshman All-America selection last season, when he intercepted three passes and made 34 tackles. He appeared in every game during his freshman season, including 10 starts.
Thompson signed with Tennessee as a four-star prospect out of Irmo, South Carolina, in May 2018 as a late addition to coach Jeremy Pruitt's first recruiting class.
Thompson committed to South Carolina in December 2017 after decommitting from Virginia Tech the previous summer. He never signed with South Carolina and remained unsigned for months after national signing day, despite being one of the state’s top-ranked prospects.
Blake Toppmeyer covers University of Tennessee football. Email him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @btoppmeyer. If you enjoy Blake’s coverage, consider a digital subscription that will allow you access to all of it.