NORMAN — Joe Mixon came to Oklahoma as the centerpiece of its post-Sugar Bowl recruiting class.
Less than seven months after signing with the Sooners, Mixon has been charged with a misdemeanor in connection with an early morning incident at a restaurant near campus.
Mixon, 18, was charged with acts resulting in gross injury in Cleveland County District Court on Friday after Norman Police turned over the results of their investigation earlier in the day.
Mixon is expected to turn himself in and be arraigned Monday.
The charge carries a maximum penalty of one year in jail and a $500 fine. As a first-time offender, any penalty is likely to be less severe.
The charges stem from an incident that happened at around 2:30 a.m. July 25 at Pickleman’s Gourmet Cafe just north of the campus.
In a statement, OU athletic director Joe Castiglione said no determination had been made in regard to Mixon’s future with the football team. Mixon has not practiced during the investigation.
“The University of Oklahoma understands that charges have now been filed against Joe Mixon based upon an investigation by local law enforcement agencies,” Castiglione said in a statement. “Under its policies, the University must independently evaluate student conduct matters and will review the facts as part of its internal process. At an appropriate time, the University will determine Mixon’s status.”
The probable cause affidavit turned in from the Norman Police recommended either aggravated assault charges — a felony — and/or the lesser misdemeanor count.
According to the affidavit, Amelia Molitor — the alleged victim — told officers at the scene that Mixon directed a gay slur toward her male friend.
Molitor was not charged in the incident.
The surveillance video showed Molitor, 20, pushed Mixon, who then lunged at her. Molitor reacted by slapping Mixon, who then hit Molitor with his closed right fist.
Molitor fell into a table and then to the ground, where she was unconscious, as Mixon fled the scene.
Molitor was taken to Norman Regional Hospital, where she was found to have a fractured jaw, fractured cheek bone, fractured sinus and fractured orbital bone, which caused damage to her left eye.
Cleveland County District Attorney Greg Mashburn said he felt like he was on “the same page” with Norman Police in determining the charge.
“When you are looking at that, you start saying, ‘Well, OK, who's the initial aggressor? Who basically started the physical aspect of the confrontation?’” Mashburn said. “In this particular case, I felt like this statute more fit what happened because now we don’t have to talk about who the initial aggressor was. Was there gross injury? And there was. And was that against public morals? And I believe that anytime you punch a girl with that much force, even when she had hit you first, that it would be against public morals.”
Mashburn said the video was critical to the decision to charge.
“No one there — no one there — remembered it exactly as it happened,” Mashburn said. “And that’s typical. In many cases that we have, if you have 10 witnesses, they all have 10 different versions because their vantage point is different and all that. It went a long way to cut through that and say, ‘I know they didn’t see that because that obviously didn’t happen,’ and you’re able to weed through what happened.”
Mashburn said the video would not be released now, citing it as a key piece of evidence if the case goes to trial. He said the tape would likely be released if a trial was avoided.
Mixon’s attorney, Kevin Finlay, said in a statement he was “disappointed” that Molitor was not charged and said he disagreed with the decision to charge Mixon.
“As we have maintained from the beginning, it is our belief that Joe reacted instinctively after being racially slurred and physically assaulted by a highly intoxicated young woman and her male friend,” Finlay said. “Justice knows no gender bias and we do not believe that Joe’s actions were criminal in nature.”
Mashburn said some witnesses said racial slurs were used while some said they weren’t. There was no audio recording with the surveillance video inside the restaurant.
Mixon, a five-star recruit from Oakley, Calif., committed to the Sooners a few days after their win over Alabama in the Sugar Bowl.
He was the Sooners’ highest-profile running back recruit since Adrian Peterson and came to Norman with similar expectations.
Now, his status with the Sooners is in doubt and he might never suit up.
Mixon’s charge comes as Oklahoma football is in the midst of plenty of other uncertainty.
Linebacker Frank Shannon is fighting a year-long suspension from the school stemming from a Title IX sexual assault investigation. Shannon was never charged with a crime but was suspended after the Title IX investigation by the school.
Earlier this week, OU filed with the Oklahoma Supreme Court to try to lift a stay on the suspension that has allowed Shannon to remain enrolled in school and a member of the football team.
The Sooners are also waiting to hear back on eligibility waivers for two players — wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham and quarterback Baker Mayfield.
Green-Beckham was dismissed from Missouri earlier this year after he allegedly forced his way into an apartment and pushed a woman down several stairs.
Green-Beckham was never charged in the incident, and Oklahoma’s waiver to have him declared immediately eligible is based on the NCAA’s “run-off” rule for players who are dismissed from programs through no fault of their own.
Green-Beckham was twice arrested for marijuana-related charges during his time at Missouri.
Mayfield’s case is the only one not involving alleged wrongdoing. The walk-on became Texas Tech’s starting quarterback last season, but left the school to walk on in Norman after last season. Because he was not released by Texas Tech, he must sit out a season before suiting up for the Sooners. OU is appealing to have him eligible immediately.
The Sooners begin their season Aug. 30 against Louisiana Tech.