Ottawa Redblacks’ defensive lineman Chris Larsen is no longer considered a suspect in an alleged hate crime according to his lawyer.
“Well, he’s no longer a suspect and we’re now going to get ahold of the CFL and coaches there and explain to them that he’s not a person of interest,” Larsen’s lawyer Calvin Barry told Global News. “At most, he’ll may be a witness when they get the people that did do what occurred.”
The alleged incident took place on June 5 on the Toronto Islands. According to police, the victim, self-identified as David Gomez, was walking with a 27-year-old woman around 11:30 p.m. ET when they became involved in a disagreement with another group of individuals. A man from the second group began making homophobic comments towards the pair.
A woman from the group grabbed one of the victims, at which point two men began to assault Gomez by punching and kicking him. According to a crowd-funding campaign set up for the victim, Gomez was knocked unconscious, suffering a broken nose, cheekbone and orbital bone while sustaining a concussion and injury to his hip.
The accusations against the CFL player stemmed from a now-deleted Instagram post by individuals close to the victim, but gained traction after being shared on Twitter by prominent Black Lives Matter organizer Sandy Hudson. Other social media personalities shared the allegations and demanded action from the CFL, including Priyanka, winner of Canada’s Drag Race.
“I broke down. Like I said it was like a bad dream. I really didn’t know how to react. I was kind of all over the place and yeah I was just breaking down,” Larsen told Global News after reading the allegations against him on social media.
“I denounce any sort of hate crime to any group, not just marginalized groups, anyone at all. And I’m just ready to move on and you know be an ally to all of these groups.”
Larsen was selected by the Redblacks in the sixth round, 54th overall during the 2019 CFL Draft but has yet to make his regular season CFL debut. He played his postsecondary football at the University of Manitoba.