COLUMBUS, Ohio – Maurice Clarett was charged with carrying a concealed weapon after a highway chase early Wednesday that ended with police using Mace on the former Ohio State running back and finding four loaded guns in his sport utility vehicle, police said.
Officers used Mace to subdue Clarett after a stun gun was ineffective because the former Fiesta Bowl star was wearing a bullet-resistant vest, Sgt. Michael Woods said.
"It took several officers to get him handcuffed," Woods said. "Even after he was placed in the paddy wagon, he was still kicking at the doors and being a problem for the officers."
The complaint police filed when they charged him with carrying a concealed weapon without permit said he had a 9 mm handgun under his legs in the driver's seat of an SUV.
Police also charged him with failing to maintain a continuous lane, which they said was for Clarett making a U-turn on the freeway. More charges are possible, Woods said.
Clarett did not speak to police who tried to interview him at the station before he was moved to the Franklin County Jail.
Wearing tan jail-issue clothes, he talked on the telephone in the booking area, separated from reporters by a window. He was to be held at the jail at least until an arraignment Thursday morning, unless his attorneys work out an agreement for his release, police said.
Clarett made an illegal U-turn on the city's east side and failed to stop when officers, in a cruiser with lights flashing, tried to pull him over, Woods said.
Police said they pursued Clarett onto the eastbound lanes of Interstate 70, one of the city's main freeways, when he darted across the median and began heading west. Clarett drove over a spike strip that was placed on the highway, flattening the driver's side tires of the SUV, Woods said. A police helicopter in the area helped track the vehicle.
Clarett exited the highway and pulled into a restaurant parking lot about 10 minutes after police say they saw him make the U-turn. Officers removed him from the SUV after he failed to obey numerous orders to exit the vehicle, Woods said.
After Clarett was placed in a police van, officers discovered a loaded rifle and three loaded handguns in the front of his vehicle, Woods said.
"We don't have any idea why he had them or what, if anything, he was going to do with them," Woods said. Police don't know where Clarett got the guns or where he was headed or coming from in the SUV. Federal authorities plan to trace the guns' ownership.
A half-full bottle of vodka was found in the SUV, but no breath test was administered because police had no indication that Clarett was intoxicated, Woods said.
The 22-year-old Clarett is currently awaiting trial on two counts of aggravated robbery, four counts of robbery and one count of carrying a concealed weapon in a separate case. Authorities said he was identified by witnesses as the person who flashed a gun and robbed two people of a cell phone in an alley behind the Opium Lounge in Columbus in the early hours of Jan. 1.
One of Clarett's attorneys in that case, Nick Mango, said he was going to the jail to see Clarett to "make sure he's OK emotionally and mentally." Clarett has not asked Mango to represent him on the new charges.
"I'm shocked as everyone else is about the allegation," Mango said. "Obviously, he's a young man with a lot of weight on his shoulders."
The home address Clarett gave police was his mother's house in Youngstown. A message seeking comment was left at the home.
Clarett scored the winning touchdown in the second overtime of the Fiesta Bowl against Miami to lead Ohio State to the 2002 national championship, the school's first since 1968. But that was the last game the freshman played for Ohio State.
He sat out the 2003 season after being charged with misdemeanor falsification on a police report, then dropped out of school. He sued to be included in the 2004 NFL draft and lost in court.
A surprise third-round pick in the 2005 draft, he was cut by the Denver Broncos during the preseason.
Clarett plans to play for the Mahoning Valley Hitmen, one of five teams in the Eastern Indoor Football League. The team, based in Clarett's hometown of Youngstown, is to begin play in January.
Hitmen coach and owner Jim Terry said that there was no indication that anything was wrong when he spoke with Clarett by cell phone early Wednesday morning about the team's upcoming tryouts. The call was disconnected around 1 a.m. and Terry missed Clarett's second call about an hour and a half later, which would have been near the time when police say they saw Clarett make a U-turn.
The arrest will not affect Clarett's status with the team, Terry said.
"We gave him a chance and now we'll wait to see what happens," he said. "I've seen far worse situations than this."
Clarett has not signed a contract with the team yet, pending a fire marshal's inspection of the team's home field. Clarett's proposed contract includes attendance incentives which cannot be finalized until the fire marshal determines the capacity of the team's arena.