Lawyer: UI's Tate 'did not hit anyone'
URBANA — Hours after appearing in an Urbana courtroom with his client, the attorney for suspended Illini basketball player Jaylon Tate stopped by "The News-Gazette Sports Page" radio show at the Esquire Monday evening to publicly debunk the details of the case.
Tate, a junior point guard, pleaded not guilty earlier in the day to a misdemeanor domestic battery charge. He was arrested early Saturday morning, accused of striking his girlfriend in the face.
"He did not hit anyone; domestic battery is a horrible offense. He's not guilty of this offense," Bruno said. "We think we know who struck this girl. We've turned that information over to the authorities."
Bruno said he has faith in local police and the state's attorney's office and believes Tate will be cleared. The attorney was driving home Monday evening listening to the radio show on WDWS 1400-AM when he decided he needed to stop by to protect his client's reputation.
"What concerns me is in our fast-paced environment a lot of harm can take place of damage to people's reputation before the facts are out," Bruno said. "Rumor goes worldwide before truth has a chance to put its pants on."
Bruno said he expects the case will be straightened out "in a matter of days, not weeks." He pleaded with the public not to leap to conclusions before all the evidence has been presented.
"We've shared with law enforcement already the name of the person we believe is responsible for this," Bruno said. "It's a tragedy, but it's not Jaylon Tate and it's not the men's basketball team."
There's a story behind why Tate was arrested early Saturday morning and why charges were brought against the 21-year-old from Chicago, Bruno said. While he understands why both took place, "a tremendous disservice has been done to this young man's reputation," he said.
"Everybody in the community will know what happened and it will all add up and make sense," Bruno said. "It's going to turn out, and you're all going to see that Jaylon Tate was not responsible for this, wasn't even present when it happened."