Prosecutors are seeking the full version of the report released Friday on the death of Maryland linebacker Jordan McNair to determine whether criminal charges are warranted.
Swaths of the 124-page report released by the University System of Maryland's Board of Regents were redacted, although the pages that were made public showed a series of shortcomings in the treatment of McNair, who fell ill during a May 29 practice and died June 13.
Head football athletic trainer Wes Robinson yelled at McNair "to get the (expletive) up" and Robinson and other trainers on site were responsible for a "failure to identify escalating symptoms” for heat stroke, the report stated.
“We will be requesting a full, un-redacted version of the Walters Report and will begin reviewing all circumstances surrounding Jordan McNair’s death for potential criminal charges,” John Erzen, the spokesperson for the Prince George County State's Attorney's Office, told USA TODAY Sports.
Erzen said it was too early to speculate what charges – if any – could be pursued against Maryland staffers.
“We will investigate this in the same manner we do every case and we will apply the law to the evidence and go from there,” Erzen said.
Jennifer M. Alexander, a former prosecutor in the Anne Arundel County (Md.) State’s Attorney’s Office, told USA TODAY Sports that she expects there to be a criminal investigation, likely focusing on the actions of Robinson and others on potential involuntary manslaughter charges.
"For involuntary manslaughter, it would have to be proven that a person did some unlawful act – or failed to perform a duty – and by doing so acted in reckless and wanton disregard for human life," said Alexander, who is currently defense attorney at Brassel Alexander. “Robinson’s comments were aggressive, but did it meet that standard? In hindsight, his statements were disturbing at best and speaks to the whole culture of Maryland football.
"I don’t believe in my heart of hearts that as he was making those aggressive and inappropriate comments that he believed Mr. McNair was in danger of losing his life.”
Alexander said she expects prosecutors will wait for the second investigation – one that delves into allegations of bullying and intimidation under head football coach D.J. Durkin – before any charges are pursued. Durkin was suspended in August. That investigation is expected to be concluded “soon,” USM Board of Regents Chair James Brady told reporters Friday.
Only six players were interviewed as part of the independent investigation, according to longtime athletic trainer Rod Walters, who put together the report. The accounts of only four players, however, were included – and three described how Robinson ordered staffers to drag McNair across the field. One said, Robinson yelled to "drag his ass across the field." Another said Robinson demanded "to get him the (expletive) up."
McNair "could barely stand” after he completed a series of sprints, one of the players told investigators.
Rick Court, Maryland’s strength coach at the time, resigned in August. Two members of the training staff are currently suspended. Maryland declined to state whether Robinson was one of those staff members on leave when asked by USA TODAY Sports.
McNair wasn’t taken off the field until 34 minutes after he first showed signs of heat illness. He also was not given cold immersion therapy – where an overheated individual is placed in a tub of ice and water – nor were his vital signs taken at College Park, Md., that day.
It took nearly an hour, 40 minutes before he was taken away by an ambulance, during which time his condition worsened and he began to have seizures.
The lack of immediate medical attention could potentially be a factor in whether charges are pursued and definitely would be part of a civil case if McNair's family files a lawsuit, Alexander said.
"Civil responsibility is easier to determine than determining if anyone is criminally responsible," Alexander said. "Probable cause to charge is 51% and you could argue that PG County already has that. But in (criminal) court, you have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt."
University of Maryland President Wallace D. Loh told reporters in August that the "university accepts legal and moral responsibility for the mistakes that our training staff made."
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