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Lawrence Phillips Investigated

June 30, 1998

MIAMI (AP) _ Miami Dolphins running back Lawrence Phillips, whose career has been plagued by violent outbursts, is under investigation for allegedly punching a woman in the face at a suburban nightclub, police said Tuesday.

According to police in Plantation, a city about 20 miles north of here, Phillips, 23, hit the woman after she refused to dance with him. At one point, they said, he became belligerent.

``Do you know who I am? You don’t know me?″ he asked. The police report said he threatened the woman that he would ``break your jawbone and pull the weave out of your head.″

Michelle Black of West Palm Beach chipped a tooth, cut her lower lip and later told officers she temporarily blacked out. She was treated and released from a hospital in Plantation.

``Right now it’s an ongoing investigation,″ Plantation detective Steve Geller said, adding that a report would be forwarded to the state attorney’s office. There is no timetable for completing the investigation, Geller said.

Telephone messages left for Phillips’ agent, Mitch Frankel, were not immediately returned.

``We definitely want to hear what (Phillips) has to say,″ Geller said. ``There are always two sides to every story.″

The alleged assault marks Phillips’ fourth brush with the law since he turned professional, after a college career that included a lengthy suspension for assaulting a former girlfriend. The troubled running back joined the Dolphins Dec. 2 after his release by the St. Louis Rams.

``If it is true, we will all obviously be disappointed,″ Dolphins coach Jimmy Johnson said. ``We will take our time with this to look at all of the facts. Only after we have gathered all the information and the facts, and I have had an opportunity to speak with Lawrence, will we make a decision on what action might be taken.″

The latest incident allegedly took place shortly before 3 a.m. Saturday at the Brickhouse Restaurant & Lounge after Black told Phillips she doesn’t dance.

She said Phillips hit her in the face twice with a closed fist, then ran off.

Phillips was stopped by three off-duty officers working security at the nightclub, where he loudly denied hitting Black. The report said he was told to calm down or he would be arrested for disorderly conduct.

He was allowed to leave, but was ordered not to return or he would be arrested for trespassing.

Ryan Collins, identified in the report as a friend of Phillips, allegedly offered Black’s sister $20 to keep quiet about the alleged punch. Collins is a former University of Miami quarterback.

Phillips, who grew up in the Los Angeles area and maintains a residence in nearby Pembroke Pines, has been a controversial figure since his college days at the University of Nebraska.

He was a leading Heisman Trophy contender as a junior until his suspension two games into the 1995 season after he pleaded no contest to assaulting a former girlfriend. He was reinstated for the Fiesta Bowl and scored three touchdowns as the Cornhuskers beat Florida for the national championship. He gave up his senior season to turn professional.

St. Louis chose Phillips as the sixth pick of the 1996 draft, but he was arrested three times and spent 23 days in jail during 19 months with the team. The Rams released him Nov. 20 after he was benched and skipped a team meeting and practice.

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