CHAMPAIGN — A University of Illinois basketball player charged with resisting a police officer and underage drinking is due back in court next month.
Darius Paul, 20, who listed an address in the 0-100 block of East Healey Street, Champaign, was arrested about 3:20 a.m. Tuesday by UI police after they say he ran from them.
UI police Capt. Roy Acree said shortly after 3 a.m., two UI officers were in the 0-100 block of East Springfield Avenue in their cars talking to each other when they spotted two men walking across the parking lot at the South China restaurant at 25 E. Springfield Ave.
"They appeared to be acting suspiciously," said Acree.
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The officers saw the pair cross the parking lot, then lost sight of them; then one of the men, later identified as Paul, reappeared on the northwest side of the viaduct.
"It appeared he was trying to evade them," Acree said. "At that time, the officer tried to make contact and Paul started to walk away. The officer asked him to stop and he started to run."
Another officer pursued Paul on foot and eventually tackled him outside his apartment in the 0-100 block of East Healey Street, which is about three blocks from where police first saw him. Neither Paul nor the officer was hurt.
"During the interview, he admitted he had been drinking a large amount of alcohol," Acree said, "so he was arrested for misdemeanor obstructing a police officer and illegal consumption of alcohol."
Acree said Paul, a sophomore transfer from Western Michigan University who sat out last season due to NCAA rules, told police he had been drinking in his own apartment. He was taken to the satellite jail in east Urbana, where he posted cash bond and was released.
Acree said the officers never found the second man they had initially seen with Paul.
Paul was charged Tuesday with resisting a peace officer and unlawful consumption of alcohol by a minor, both Class A misdemeanor offenses carrying a maximum penalty of up to 364 days in the county jail and a fine up to $2,500.
He appeared before Judge Jeff Ford, along with his attorney, Steve Beckett of Urbana. Ford told Paul to be back in court May 16. His father was in court with him. Paul declined to answer any questions about his arrest.
Illinois coach John Groce was on the road recruiting Tuesday. He released a statement on the matter through the university.
"We are aware of the situation that occurred with Darius and are in the process of gathering more information," Groce said. "We need to let the legal process run its course, and then will determine appropriate disciplinary action."
Acree said the situation could have been avoided if Paul "just did what he was supposed to do and talked to the police."
"If you're not doing anything wrong, there is no reason to avoid us. If the police do stop you, do what you are asked to do," Acree said.