BALTIMORE — In the wake of Baltimore Ravens undrafted rookie linebacker Tony Fein being charged with misdemeanor assault on a police officer following an incident Sunday night in the Inner Harbor, Fein’s agent has accused the police of racial profiling.
Fein’s agent, Milton Dee Hobbs, claimed that the former Iraq war veteran came into contact with police officers because he’s a black man who was wearing a baggy, hooded sweatshirt.
And Hobbs denied that Fein shoved the arresting officer, Sgt. Joseph Donato, describing Donato as being aggressive toward the 6-foot-2, 245-pound NFL player.
"It’s a bad deal," Hobbs said in a telephone interview. "There was definitely some profiling going on by the police folks. I understand they have gang problems in Baltimore, but Tony didn’t shove the guy.
“He’s a class act and he was wearing the sweatshirt because he covers up his tattoos to not draw extra attention to himself. What happened is unfair to Tony. I understand the fear and apprehension of the officer. It looks bad, but it’s not the way it seems."
Following the Ravens’ 24-23 preseason victory Monday night over the New York Jets, Fein, 27, vigorously maintained his innocence after playing in the game.
"I’m 110 percent innocent," Fein said. "The truth’s going to come out. What’s been released isn’t the truth. And once the facts start coming out, I know I’m going to be innocent. I am innocent.
"I apologize to my teammates for what happened. I just ask the fans to let be innocent until proven guilty. I’m completely innocent. Give me the benefit of the doubt. I did nothing wrong. Let it take its course."
According to a police report, officers were called to a Johnny Rockets restaurant by a security officer who witnessed a group of men passing a silver metallic object between them and feared that it was a handgun. It was later determined to actually be a cellular phone, though.
Officers demanded that Fein stand up, which he refused to do, according to a police report.
And Donato demanded loudly to Fein a second time, "Stand up, turn around and keep your hands where I can see them."
Then, Fein allegedly shoved Donato to the ground and was arrested immediately.
"The officer grabbed Tony by his sweatshirt to try to find the weapon, which turned out to be a phone and Tony may have pushed his hand away or they bumped hands," Hobbs said. "Tony didn’t know it was an officer until he was two feet away when he shouted at him. Tony didn’t intentionally shove him. You’ve got a black kid wearing a hoodie and a cop making presumptions. Apparently, this cop is a macho man."
Added Fein: "I’m not going into details. I’ve been advised not to talk about it."
According to police officials, Donato is a highly-decorated officer with no history of internal affairs complaints.
Donato was apparently concerned that Fein was wearing a large gray hooded sweatshirt.
"This attire did not seem weather-appropriate to Sgt. Donato, based on time of year and temperature and could be used to conceal a handgun," the report stated.
Fein was released from central booking around 1 a.m. Monday.
Fein doesn’t have a criminal history of prior arrests, and Hobbs said that Fein doesn’t own a weapon .
"We’re trying to work it out with the police commissioner," Hobbs said. "The cop made a mistake. The security guard made a big mistake. Hopefully, they’ll drop the case.”
Police officials said that Donato is in good condition and Fein wasn’t injured during the incident.
According to the charging document, Fein was sitting with Matthew Lawrence, Jayson Foster and Geoffrey Brandon at the restaurant. Lawrence is a running back and Foster is a wide receiver on the Ravens’ roster.
The Baltimore City police department has recently increased patrols and security has been heightened at the Inner Harbor following an Aug. 15 gang-related shooting near Phillips Seafood restaurant.
"People can’t be jerks at the Inner Harbor," police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said Sunday night during a press conference. "There is no need to make a scene."
Fein is a former Army infantry Delta recon scout. Even before the incident, he was considered to be facing a tough battle to make the roster.
Ravens coach John Harbaugh addressed the incident after the game with reporters. He discussed the situation with Fein twice following his arrest.
"First of all, we have tremendous respect and admiration for the Baltimore police," Harbaugh said. "So whatever happened there, I’m sure those guys were doing their best. Also, on the other hand, we really feel strongly about Tony Fein. Tony Fein is a quality young man.
"If there’s anybody who understands how to handle themselves with authority, it’s Tony, who’s been to Iraq and been in the military. He’s been honest with us. He’s told his side of the story. I’m sure both sides will come out. We have confidence that our system will get it sorted out, figured out in a good way for everybody."
Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times and the Annapolis Capital.