DALLAS— The Dallas Cowboys paid tribute to former Illini Jerry Brown at a private memorial on Tuesday that included former Illini Josh Brent, the player charged with intoxication manslaughter in the one-car accident that killed his teammate.
Quarterback Tony Romo, owner Jerry Jones and other players, executives and staff members arrived at the service on a sunny but chilly afternoon at Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas. Brent arrived earlier than most in a van with several other people and hugged an unidentified woman before walking into the building.
Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said Monday the team would “support Josh 100 percent in every way that we can,” while the NFL has “no issue” with Brent being at team facilities, spokesman Greg Aiello said.
Police in suburban Irving say Brent was speeding early Saturday when his vehicle struck a curb and flipped. Brown was taken to a Dallas hospital, where he was pronounced dead. The Dallas County medical examiner said he died after suffering blunt force trauma to his head and neck.
Officers who arrived at the accident scene found Brent pulling Brown from the wreck, according to an arrest affidavit. However, a woman who arrived moments after the accident said Brent didn’t try to save his friend’s life until she begged him.
“Jerry was alive,” Stacee McWilliams of Irving told The Dallas Morning News. “He was hurt. He was calling out, and his own friend walked away.”
McWilliams, a 40-year-old insurance company employee, said she was on her way home from her birthday party when she noticed the wreck and stopped. She told the newspaper Monday she could no longer talk about the case on the instruction of Irving police, and she did not respond to a message from The Associated Press seeking an interview Tuesday.
Brent’s attorney, George Milner, told the AP that an investigating officer told him the woman’s story didn’t match the circumstances surrounding Brown’s death. Milner said he was told that Brown “wasn’t talking to anyone. He wasn’t moaning. He was dead.”
Milner said the woman also told police that Irving fire personnel weren’t at the scene — another fact that isn’t consistent with what really occurred.
“Not one person in the Irving Police Department has said one thing that is consistent” with the woman’s story, Milner said.
Police spokesman John Argumaniz declined to comment on the account, saying only that investigators are interviewing “numerous” witnesses.
Brent and Brown were teammates at Illinois, and Brown was rooming with the Brent while he tried to make the Cowboys’ active roster.
A club where Brent and Brown reportedly spent at least part of Friday evening, Privae Dallas, has issued a statement saying it’s “deeply saddened by the events of the weekend” and that it’s cooperating with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission and police.
“Privae Dallas is a club that offers its guests a special level of privacy and often caters to celebrities,” according to the statement, attributed to the club’s human resources manager. “The safety of our guests is very important to us, and our staff is trained to follow the regulations set forth by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission.”
Comedian Shawn Wayans was at the club last Friday night, and a club promoter tweeted that a dozen unnamed Cowboys players were there ordering numerous bottles of a popular champagne. In Texas, the sale of alcohol with criminal negligence to an intoxicated person is a misdemeanor punishable with a fine of as much as $500 and up to a year in jail.
The TABC, which enforces the state’s liquor laws, also can suspend or cancel the license of an establishment found to have served an intoxicated customer.
TABC spokeswoman Carolyn Beck said the agency is investigating the accident, as it does all alcohol-related fatalities that come to its attention. She said the agency has been told the players were drinking at more than one location but she declined to be specific.
Meanwhile, funeral services are scheduled for Friday in St. Louis for Brown.
The funeral is scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday at Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church in St. Louis.