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The Difference Between a Mistake and a Criminal

Yesterday's police news was a contrast in misbehavior

The cops are one defender you cannot evade
The cops are one defender you cannot evade
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

When the news broke yesterday that Trey Lealaimatafao had been arrested for punching a woman in the face with a closed fist, I doubt anyone was surprised. OK, the actual details were unpredictable, like digging through an unconscious man's pockets in an attempt to rob him, but the fact of an arrest for a violent crime was not hard to predict.

Trey Lealaimatafao has been nothing but trouble from the moment he stepped foot on campus. He severely cut his arm last season by punching through a glass window in the weight room, and he was arrested for stealing someone's bike from Middleton Library. He finally put violence and theft together yesterday, and the chances of him playing college football, much less for LSU, is looking fairly remote. He will be lucky to avoid jail, as three different witnesses identified him, according to The Advocate's reporting.

He's a bad guy who does bad things. I'm not averse to second chances for people, and I don't have much sympathy for the moralistic hard asses who want to show off their bona fides by trying to lock up everyone who makes a mistake. But this goes far beyond college student shenanigans. This is a violent, impulsive person who appears to be a very real danger to society. Lealaimatafao is all out of second chances.

Had that been the only story from the SEC football police blotter, it wouldn't have been all that notable. Lealaimatafao getting kicked off the team for another violent incident was simply a matter of time. I would have liked to see him kicked off the team last year, but it is not like the football team has thrown up this purple wall to try and obstruct the police department from doing their jobs. It's not whether a player gets arrested, it's how the program reacts to it. And there is simply no indication that Miles has not taken this kid's troubles seriously.

Then, a few hours later, the big news hit: Dwayne Thomas, Maquedius Bain, and Anthony Jennings were arrested for unauthorized entry into an inhabited dwelling. I at least give them points for originality. I wasn't aware you could break into an apartment that was still occupied.

The details of the crime, according to The Advocate, are ridiculous. It apparently involves the three players trying to retrieve Jennings' stolen laptop, for which he had already filed a police report. Anderson, the renter of the apartment, apparently bought the stolen laptop from a guy named, and I'm not making this up, Doodaman.

The details get dumber from there.

Now, I'm a bit more comfortable calling this standard college shenanigans, with a healthy dose of bad decision-making thrown in. Pro tip, fellas. If you file a police report which names a specific person for stealing your property, it's probably not a good idea to then break into their apartment. Also, you probably shouldn't break in while his roommate is home. But even if the place was empty, it wasn't exactly going to take a dedicated task force to figure this one out.

Miles has, as per team policy, indefinitely suspended the three while the legal system sorts things out. It is nearly certain all three players will return to the team at some point, as we normally don't throw the book at people for doing something remarkably stupid.

This illustrates the difference between people making a poor decision and people who need to suffer the fullest punishment available. Lealaimatafao is a true danger to himself and others. This isn't a one time thing, and even if it was, you don't accidentally rifle through an unconscious man's clothing or punch a woman in the face.

Thomas, Bain, and Jennings, on the other hand, got caught up in trying to get back at someone who had wronged them. I highly doubt they are about to embark on a criminal career of burglary. They deserve to be punished, but they also don't deserve to have their lives ruined over this.

I don't want to excuse what that trio did. They need to go before the judge like anyone us and take the punishment, like anyone else. They don't get any special treatment, positive or negative. Which means while I don't want to see them circumvent the system, I also don't think they need to get a disproportionately harsh sentence like a regular college kid who did something this ill-advised.

Some suspensions are more indefinite than others. I don't forsee any situation in which Lealaimatafao is allowed back on campus. On the other hand, this is probably not the end of the LSU career, nor should it be, of Bain, Thomas, and Jennings.

But it sure does make next season's quarterback situation more clear.