By Ben Blanchard, Coburn Gillies and Emily Williams, The Miami Student
Miami University football player Zach Smierciak has been suspended from the team following his arrest last weekend for felonious assault. The victim, Robert Null, sustained serious injuries and was discharged from the University of Cincinnati hospital earlier this week.
Smierciak’s initial hearing was held at 10 a.m. Thursday. His lawyer was granted a continuance until next Thursday. Smierciak, who is pleading not guilty, did not appear in court.
According to the incident report from the Oxford Police Department, at approximately 1:30 a.m. on Nov. 6, the 6’2’’ and 262 pound starting defensive end was being removed from Brick Street bar when he deliberately shoved a ladder, knocking off Null, a Brick Street employee, who fell headfirst onto the pavement.
Null, a senior at Miami, had been standing on the top step of the 10-foot A-frame ladder, according to the report.
Null, who was unresponsive with a cracked skull, was taken to McCullough Hyde Hospital and flown to the UC hospital in the early hours of Sunday, Nov. 6 due to the severity of his injuries.
Smierciak, 22, ran from the scene and headed north down Poplar Street. According to the incident report, Brick Street employees chased Smierciak and were able to stop him in front of The Woods bar where OPD officer Mark Ledermeier detained him and took him to the Oxford Police Station for processing. Smierciak was then transported to the Butler County Jail.
Paul VandeBussche Jr., a ‘16 Miami graduate, was outside of The Woods bar when the arrest occurred.
“We saw a guard from inside The Woods book it out of the door, so we followed to see the rush,” said VandeBussche. “As soon as we get to the patio, there is a big guy who was just tackled by at least two Brick [Street] guards and even Will [Weisman, owner of Brick Street bar] was there yelling at the guy and a cop was beginning to put handcuffs on him.”
According to a statement from Ledermeier included in the report, Smierciak smelled of alcohol, slurred his speech and had poor balance.
Miami head football coach Chuck Martin did not mention Smierciak’s arrest at his regular press conference on Monday. At Tuesday’s practice, Martin acknowledged the incident and Smierciak’s current suspension.
“We’re still gathering information and will wait for the judicial and school process to take hold and be respectful to those processes,” Martin said. “Until we get more clarification, Zach is suspended from the team.”
The events of the incident were confirmed by an interview, 10 written statements and a security video from the bar, according to Butler County Area Court records.
Felonious assault is a second degree felony under Ohio law and carries a penalty of two to eight years in prison, according to Ohio Revised Code sections 2903.11 and 2929.14.
Smierciak, a redshirt junior, was charged for disorderly conduct in Oxford in June 2014. He plead guilty to the charges and paid a $150 fine.
Following the continuance, Smierciak’s hearing will be held at the Butler County Area Court in Oxford at 1 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 17.