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Scottie Scheffler arrested for allegedly assaulting officer near fatal crash while on way to PGA Championship

Masters champion Scottie Scheffler was arrested by police in Louisville on Friday morning on his way to the PGA Championship, with stunning images showing him handcuffed as he was led to a police car and charged with assaulting an officer after allegedly attempting to drive around traffic backed up from a pedestrian fatality investigation. Scheffler was released later in the morning and continued competing in the tournament.

Police said Scheffler was booked for second-degree assault of a police officer, third-degree criminal mischief, reckless driving and disregarding traffic signals from an officer directing traffic. In a statement to CBS News, Scheffler’s attorney Steve Romines said the golfer “never at any point assaulted any officer with his vehicle” and added that “we will litigate this matter as needed.” 

In a statement posted to Instagram, Scheffler said he was in a “very chaotic situation.”

“There was a big misunderstanding of what I thought I was being asked to do,” Scheffler said. “I never intended to disregard any of the instructions. I’m hopeful to put this to the side and focus on golf today.”

Police said a pedestrian had been struck by a bus while crossing the road in a lane that was dedicated to tournament traffic. Police said the man died at the scene, CBS affiliate WLKY reported. Traffic was backed up for about a mile in both directions on the only road that leads to Valhalla Golf Club, with dozens of police cars flashing red-and-blue lights near the entrance.  

Scheffler, the No. 1 player in the world, later started the second round shortly after 10 a.m. EDT. After finishing Friday’s round, Scheffler told reporters he wouldn’t discuss specific details about the incident, but he said he didn’t know at the time that the accident ahead of him in traffic was fatal.

“I feel like my head’s still spinning,” Scheffler said. “I can’t really explain what happened this morning. I did spend some time stretching in a jail cell — that was a first for me.”

Scheffler expressed confidence that the charges would “get resolved, I think, fairly quickly.”

Why was Scottie Scheffler arrested?

According to a police report, Scheffler was in an eastbound lane and pulled into the westbound lanes, where a uniformed detective was standing. The detective stopped Scheffler and attempted to give him instructions, but Scheffler “refused to comply and accelerated forward,” according to the report.

The detective, identified as Det. Gillis, was dragged “to the ground” and suffered “pain, swelling, and abrasions to his left wrist,” according to the report.

The detective was dressed in a high visibility reflective jacket when he stopped Scheffler’s car to give instructions, the arrest sheet said. Gillis was taken to the hospital for his injuries.

The Louisville Metro Police Department said that all lanes were closed during the traffic fatality investigation.

“While an officer was directing traffic, an encounter with a motorist attempting to make entry into a restricted area ultimately led to the driver being arrested,” the police said in a statement. “We are in the process of conducting a thorough investigation. We are appreciative that all parties involved are fully cooperating.”

Romines said Scheffler was driving a marked player’s vehicle and proceeding as he’d been instructed.

“I think the officer that was directing traffic was maybe not part of the event traffic detail and so that’s where the miscommunication arose, and that’s why we’re here,” Romines told WLKY.

ESPN reporter Jeff Darlington said he watched this unfold with Scheffler driving past a police officer a little after 6 a.m. in his SUV. He said police pulled Scheffler out of the vehicle, pushed him up against the car and immediately placed him in handcuffs.

“Scheffler was then walked over to the police car, placed in the back, in handcuffs, very stunned about what was happening, looked toward me as he was in those handcuffs and said, ‘Please help me,'” Darlington said. “He very clearly did not know what was happening in the situation. It moved very quickly, very rapidly, very aggressively.”

Darlington said whole the incident started with a “misunderstanding with traffic flow.”

With cars backed up in the morning darkness, other PGA-marked vehicles tried to move slowly toward the entrance. Traffic finally began to move slowly a little before 7 a.m.

A spokesperson for the PGA of America identified the man who was struck by the shuttle bus as John Mills. In a statement, the PGA’s Greg Dillard said Mills, a worker with one of the group’s vendors, was going to work when he was hit.

“This is heartbreaking to all of us involved with the PGA Championship,” the PGA said in a statement. “We extend our sincere condolences to their family and loved ones.”

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear conveyed his condolences on social media, saying, “Our hearts are broken, and we continue to pray for the victim’s family.”

“The events that occurred afterward are the unfortunate result of this tragic incident, and we are hopeful that all parties involved can come to a resolution,” Beshear said.

Scheffler also expressed his sympathies for the man who died.

“It truly puts everything in perspective,” Scheffler said on social media.

The website for the Louisville Metropolitan Department of Corrections briefly showed a booking photo of Scheffler before the photo was removed. According to the website, Scheffler was released at 8:40 a.m.

Did Scottie Scheffler play today?

Scheffler returned to the course at 9:12 a.m. He made his way to the practice area around 9:30 a.m. and was welcomed by fans — one shouted “free Scottie!”

Scheffler seemed like his normal, relaxed self, sharing a few laughs on the driving range. Then he went out and made a birdie on his first hole of the day after sticking his approach shot to three feet. Scheffler finished Friday’s round two strokes behind leader Collin Morikawa at nine strokes under par for the tournament, CBS Sports reports.

It was a surreal start to what already has been a wild week of weather — the Masters champion and top-ranked in the world, dressed in workout clothes with his hands in cuffs behind his back amid flashing flights.

Darlington said police were not sure who he was. He said an officer asked him to leave and when he identified himself being with the media, he was told, “There’s nothing you can do. He’s going to jail.”

Darlington said another police officer later approached with a notepad and asked if he knew the name of the person they put in handcuffs.

Scheffler is coming off four victories in his last five tournaments. He was home in Dallas for the last three weeks waiting on the birth of his first child, a son who was born on May 8.

“I feel like my head is still spinning. I can’t really explain what happened this morning,” Scheffler said after remarkably posting another 5-under 66 Friday that kept him in the mix for a second straight major championship. He is seeking to become only the fifth player since 1960 to win the first two majors of the year.

Last month, Scheffler won his second Masters Tournament victory in three years, finishing 11 under and four strokes up on his closest competitors.

Source: CBS News