Michigan football player Taylor Lewan is under investigation for an alleged assault that took place after Michigan's recent loss to visiting Ohio State.
Michigan offensive lineman Taylor Lewan
The two-time All-American left tackle allegedly committed the act in the early morning hours of Dec. 1 in front of The Little Brown Jug restaurant in Ann Arbor, Mich. The Ann Arbor Police Department investigated and subsequently closed the case. But the case has since been reopened and transferred to a senior detective at the accuser’s request.
Included in the following report by Bucknuts.com is a copy of the accuser’s discharge papers from the University of Michigan Medical Center the morning of Dec. 1. The report claims the cause of injury as "assault."
In the originally closed police report stemming from the investigation at the scene immediately following the incident, the alleged assailant is listed as “unidentified." But multiple eyewitnesses at the scene speaking to responding officers referred to the alleged assailant by a first name of "Taylor."
All real names of eyewitnesses and the accuser are being withheld because this is an active police investigation. However, each eyewitness Bucknuts spoke to directly claimed they expect to testify in open court if the police bring criminal charges against Lewan.
Bucknuts also has the police report number for the alleged assault. However, Ann Arbor police have thus far refused to furnish the initial report -- even to the accuser.
The Alleged Assault
University Avenue is in many ways the heart of the social scene in Ann Arbor. It is what High Street is to Columbus, Ohio, or what 6th Street is to Austin, Texas. Dotted with bars, restaurants and shops, it also bisects the campus itself.
Shortly after midnight, a crowd gathered on the sidewalk of South University Avenue in the vicinity of The Little Brown Jug. Between the road and the sidewalk front of The Little Brown Jug is a seating area with a metal fence around the perimeter.
That night, the sidewalk was full of people when the accuser and his friends walked through the area en route to Panchero’s Mexican Grill – next to The Little Brown Jug. Unaware of the perimeter fence, one of the people in the group bumped into it and tripped.
“We were sort of just walking by when the crowd started making a bunch of noise,” Curtis, a victim and eyewitness, told Bucknuts. “I had no idea what was going on, but the next thing I knew, the crowd parted and a huge guy in a red polo shirt came up to me and punched me in the face.”
Other eyewitnesses corroborated his account.
“Curtis was the first one who was hit,” confirmed Warren, a 28-year-old Columbus resident who would end up in the hospital as part of the alleged attack.
“I have no idea what started this. I just turned around and saw (my friend) on the ground,” said Marcus, a third eyewitness. “I turned and tried walking away and Warren was just standing there, kind of like ‘What the hell is going on here?’ and then all of a sudden the tall man in the red shirt came over and punched him right in the face. Warren goes down on the ground and a man in a grey shirt and jeans started kicking him.”
Unidentified bystanders came to the aid of Warren. According to both Warren and Marcus, some Michigan students helped separate the attacker from the man on the ground.
“I was lucky people stepped in,” Warren said.
Said Marcus: “That’s kind of when it died down. Warren got up and walked over to this white car. There were a couple of people who tried to help push us away from the attack. We were kind of recouping from everything at that point.”
Said Warren: “I got up and walked away. I was leaning on a white car a little way down the road and thought it was over.”
Said Marcus: “(Warren) was standing with his back towards (the car) and then the tall man in the red shirt came back and punched him right in the ribs where the sternum ends. You know, the place where they tell you not to push when you’re doing CPR? He hunched over right away and some girl who was standing there thought he broke his ribs and told him an ambulance was on the way. I don’t know why he (attacked Warren) a second time, because [the alleged attacker had] gone back into the crowd by the bar after the first punch.”
Added Warren: “I remember the girls making a 911 call by the car, which was where I was when the ambulance got there.”
The only documented 911 call to police about the alleged assault was made at 12:28 a.m. by Curtis, who went in the opposite direction after being punched.
“I didn’t even see Warren get hit, I got out of there and just called 911 right away and started naming all the restaurants around me,” Curtis said. “By the time the cops got there, the crowd had largely dispersed or gone into the bar."
All of the witnesses and the accuser deny doing anything to incite an altercation. Video acquired by the Ann Arbor police after the case reportedly confirms the initial account described by Curtis, Marcus and Warren: an individual trips on the fence. The ensuing activity makes the remaining video difficult to decipher.
"We were in a totally positive attitude right before and absolutely would never have instigated something like that,” Curtis said.
Said Marcus: “We’re Ohio State fans in Ann Arbor on the night of The Game, we’re not that stupid."
Marcus and Curtis were adamant they had not excessively consumed alcohol prior to the incident.
“I had to work (in Columbus) the next day at noon and I drove to the hospital less than two hours after (the alleged attack),” Marcus said.
Said Curtis: “We were going to get food and then go to our hotel because we were leaving at 8:30 in the morning when this whole thing happened."
When police arrived at the scene, Warren identified a tall man in a red polo shirt as the individual who punched him twice. The identification was done visually at the scene - the alleged assailant was still present - prior to Curtis being taken by ambulance to University of Michigan Medical Center.
“The guy was towering,” Warren said of the accused. “Put it this way, he was standing 10 feet away from me and it felt like he was right on top of me. He was huge. And I pointed directly at him when the officer asked.”
At the hospital, Warren was determined to have severely bruised ribs and facial bruising. Warren also had breathing issues for a week after the incident.
“I still didn’t know it was Warren in the ambulance,” Curtis said of his testimony to police officers as the emergency medical personnel left the scene. “I started telling my story when the man in the red polo shirt came out of the bar and started talking to the police.”
Curtis claims as the alleged attacker in the red polo shirt was talking to police and was giving his testimony, he gave high-five hand slaps to multiple officers and was smiling.
"He was laughing and joking with the cops and at that point I just kind of gave up on anything happening to him,” Curtis said.
Curtis and Marcus described their treatment at the scene by Ann Arbor police officers.
“The whole time I’m telling (the police officer) the story, he didn’t write anything down,” Marcus explained. “It seemed like he didn’t believe a word I said. At one point he said, ‘OK, let’s bring Taylor over.’ Once they brought him over close and they called him by his first name, I realized who it was: It was Taylor Lewan.”
Prior to the police officer referring the alleged attacker as "Taylor," both Curtis and Warren claim they were unaware it was Taylor Lewan.
Warren and Curtis have since been shown still photos of Lewan taken from an episode of the Big Ten Network program “The Journey” that was filmed on Nov. 30. Both Warren and Curtis conclusively recognized Lewan's arm tattoos and haircut. Curtis said he "100-percent" sure the player featured on the Big Ten Network (Lewan) was the previously detailed alleged attacker in the red polo shirt.
According to Marcus, a police offer – identified from his business card given at the scene as Jason Schimelfening – brought Lewan over to stand less than five feet away while Marcus was giving his statement.
“He was asking me to identify (Lewan) and I said, ‘Yes’ and then he asked me to re-tell my story in front of Taylor,” Marcus said. “It was extremely awkward. He was just a few feet away. It was pretty intimidating. In retrospect, I don’t believe (Officer Schimelfening) believed a word I said, or even cared to.”
Lewan’s short-sleeved, red polo shirt did not cover his arm tattoos.
“It was like a chain sort of thing and a cross,” Marcus said, identifying Lewan’s distinctive right forearm tattoo.
Marcus and Curtis claim police officers on the scene made Lewan apologize.
“[The accused] was kind of smirking when he said it,” Marcus said.
Between the first name familiarity and the purported non-apology apology on scene, it seems difficult to believe that the police would list a suspect in this case as unidentified, particularly one fingered by three separate eyewitnesses.
When Warren called the Ann Arbor police the next week to follow up on the investigation, he learned the case was closed due to a lack of suspects. The report listed one eyewitness as unidentified. There was no mention of the three other eyewitnesses seen giving their account to police following the incident.
The case has since been re-opened and 10 days ago was transferred to a senior detective that has been acquiring new statements and video evidence while moving the investigation forward.
When contacted by Bucknuts, the Little Brown Jug declined to comment.
Reached for comment earlier today, Pete Skorich, Michigan senior associate athletic director for communications, broadcast, multimedia and creative services, said: "I know totally nothing about this. The [football] team is on a plane right now."
The Ann Arbor Police Department was also contacted by phone earlier today.
"Because it is under investigation," said Sergeant Mike Scherba, "we're going to say no (comment)."
Reporting for this piece conducted by Matt Baxendell and Dave Biddle.