Buffalo Bills defensive tackle Ed Oliver was arrested in May, eight days before George Floyd was killed in Minnesota when Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, held his knee to Floyd’s neck.
Oliver was initially charged with driving while intoxicated, though two months later charges were dropped since blood results showed there were no drugs in his system. On Monday, he opened up about the arrest and the perspective he has on it now during a video call with reporters.
“I feel like I was guilty and had to prove my innocence, not innocent until proven guilty,” Oliver said.
Oliver arrested in May, all charges dropped in July
Oliver was pulled over on a highway in Houston, after a concerned driver called 911 to report a white Ford Super Duty pickup truck was driving erratically through a construction zone, per the Montgomery County Police Reporter. There is video from the traffic stop showing Oliver completing field sobriety tests and being handcuffed.
He was also charged with unlawfully carrying a handgun. All charges were dismissed by the district attorney late last month.
“The blood results came back, and they were totally negative,” Houston attorney Gary Patterson told Mark Berman of Fox 26. “He had no drugs at all in his system. So everybody knows it’s not the attorney that’s getting him off.”
Oliver said he could’ve been George Floyd
Oliver, 22, told reporters Floyd’s death put his own situation in perspective.
— Matthew Bové (@Matt_Bove) August 10, 2020
Oliver, a former University of Houston star taken ninth overall in the 2019 NFL draft, told reporters:
“That could have been me. If I ain’t just ‘yes sir, no sir’ and just comply, all it took was for me to move the wrong way or do something the wrong way and that could have been me. So it was tough.”
He said he’ll start to watch his surroundings closer, slow down and “try to keep yourself out of situations like that.”
“You could be doing anything, and then life could just hit you. So you’ve got to be careful,” Oliver said.
Oliver said he was en route to his house with an ATV on the trailer of his truck.
Why Oliver complied despite 0.0 breathalyzer test
Oliver’s attorney said Oliver’s breathalyzer test at the time of the traffic stop was 0.0. The blood work from the night of his arrest came back clean as well. Officers said there was a can of opened beer between his legs, which Oliver disputed on social media after charges were dropped by asking how an officer can see inside a Ford Super Duty truck.
He told reporters he felt violated by being arrested and put into a jumpsuit at the station even though his breathalyzer was clean. The officer, he said, told him he still believed Oliver was intoxicated.
Ed Oliver described being put into a jump suit after his arrest. "I don't know how you get arrested with nothing in your system...I didn't walk my entire the straight and narrow to be in a jumpsuit like that for nothing. That's how I felt violated." Oliver blew 0.0 #Bills
— Michael Giardi (@MikeGiardi) August 10, 2020
And he explained why he complied.
Ed Oliver blew a 0.00 breathalyzer where he was pulled over.
The officer told him he still believed Oliver was intoxicated.
The #Bills DT explains why despite frustrations, he complied.
"If you're right, you're right. The truth's going to set you free."#BillsCamp pic.twitter.com/9zvvSb1E4u
— Jon Scott (@JonScottTV) August 10, 2020
“It’s just kind of like one of those things in your life you’ve just got to go through and get through it and hopefully I can tell my kids about it or I can inform people, hey, you don’t have to fight back,” Oliver said. “If you’re right, you’re right. The truth is going to set you free. Just go through it, go through with it, and you’ll be all right on the other side.”
As protests erupted following Floyd’s death, professional athletes and others began sharing their own stories of being stopped by police even if the transgression was small or nonexistent. As Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports wrote in June, “driving while Black” is real and the impact can have lasting effects. It is part of why leagues have promoted and support Black Lives Matter and fellow initiatives.
The NFL issued a statement saying “black lives matter” in June after players released a powerful video asking if it will take an NFL player to be “murdered by police brutality” for the league to care.
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