MIAMI — A Florida family claims in a lawsuit that they feared for their lives when Cleveland Browns defensive lineman Desmond Bryant allegedly showed up drunk and shirtless at their home, repeatedly banged on the front door and ripped off a door handle.
The lawsuit, filed Monday in Miami-Dade County Circuit Court, seeks unspecified damages on behalf of Isaac and Iris Bakar and their three children, ages 10, 7 and 4. The family claims they thought someone was trying to rob them when the 6-foot-6, 311-pound Bryant came to their house at 5:30 a.m. Feb. 24 after drinking at South Beach nightspots.
The Bakars’ attorney, Robert Fiore, said in an email Tuesday that Bryant "made more than a simple, inconsequential mistake" and that the lawsuit was filed "to hold Mr. Bryant legally accountable for his inexcusable conduct and the resulting trauma to my clients."
At one point, the lawsuit says, the shirtless Bryant tried to yank open the door while the 5-foot-10, 170-pound Isaac Bakar struggled to stop him from the inside and yelled things like, "go away" and "leave my family alone."
Bryant, 27, was arrested on a misdemeanour criminal mischief charge, and his mug shot with eyes half closed and tongue sticking out went viral. Nonetheless, he signed a deal last week with the Cleveland Browns worth $34 million over five years, with $15 million guaranteed.
Bryant previously played for the Oakland Raiders and went to Harvard University. He has 124 career tackles and 10.5 sacks.
Representatives for Bryant could not immediately be reached for comment. The Browns referred calls to Bryant’s agent, who did not immediately return a telephone call seeking comment Tuesday.
Last week, Bryant told reporters that he "obviously made a mistake," wanted to apologize and hoped to move on from the incident.
"I think I have done enough over the years I have been in the league to exhibit that that’s really not the kind of person that I am. I think in time I will be able to show you guys and whoever else wants to know that’s really not indicative of me," Bryant said.
The Browns said at Bryant’s signing news conference they were satisfied with his character.
"We evaluated his situation, looked at his history and felt very comfortable that he fit the profile of what we were looking for here," said Joe Banner, the team’s chief executive officer.
According to a police affidavit, Bryant took a taxi for reasons that aren’t clear from South Beach to the Bakars’ home in North Miami Beach, even though Bryant’s own residence was nearly three miles away in a high-rise Aventura condominium. When he was pounding in their door, the Bakars’ yelled for an explanation but got none, according to their lawsuit.
"The defendant neither responded nor made his intentions known, but instead continued his relentless, violent assault on the plaintiffs, causing Isaac, Iris and their three small children to be paralyzed with fear," the lawsuit says.
Bryant is scheduled to enter a plea in the misdemeanour case April 1. Court records do not list an attorney for him in either case.