Charges against Scottie Scheffler dismissed after arrest outside PGA Championship

All charges against Scottie Scheffler have been dismissed less than two weeks after the world No. 1 golfer was arrested trying to drive around the scene of a fatal crash on his way to the PGA Championship – and as video of the arrest aftermath emerged.

Scheffler, 27, had been charged with felony second-degree assault on a police officer and the lesser charges of third-degree criminal mischief, reckless driving and disregarding signals from officers directing traffic, Jefferson County court records showed.

“Based upon the totality of the evidence, my office cannot move forward in the prosecution of the charges filed against Mr. Scheffler,” County Attorney Mike O’Connell said Wednesday in court. “Mr. Scheffler’s characterization that this was, quote, a ‘big misunderstanding,’ close quote, is corroborated by the evidence.”

Jefferson County District Court Judge Anne Delahanty dismissed the matter with prejudice – meaning it cannot come up again – “and it will be ripe for expungement within 60 days,” she said.

Scheffler on Wednesday afternoon reiterated he believed the incident stemmed from a “severe miscommunication in a chaotic situation” and he held “no ill will” toward the detective who arrested him.

“I wish to put this incident behind me and move on, and I hope he will do the same,” Scheffler said in a statement. “Police officers have a difficult job and I hold them in high regard.”

Scheffler and his attorney are “pleased the case was dismissed today,” lawyer Steve Romines told reporters outside court after the hearing. They had been prepared to litigate the case and also were preparing to file a civil suit that Scheffler no longer wants to pursue, Romines said, citing the cost to taxpayers.

“He’s glad it’s over,” Romines said of Scheffler, who lives in Texas and had permission to miss Wednesday’s hearing.

Jefferson County Attorney Mike O’Connell speaks Wednesday at a hearing in Louisville, Kentucky. - WLKY
Jefferson County Attorney Mike O’Connell speaks Wednesday at a hearing in Louisville, Kentucky. - WLKY

The case has faced close scrutiny since the arrest on the early morning of May 17. The arresting detective was disciplined for not turning on his body-worn camera at the time, and some officials had believed the charges should be reduced, police department sources told CNN.

“We respect the County Attorney’s decision, and we respect the judicial process,” the department said Wednesday in a statement. Louisville Metro Police Department “will remain focused on our mission to serve the city of Louisville and mitigate violent crime.”

Scheffler had been charged in connection with the incident that occurred while he was arriving at the Valhalla Golf Club. He was accused of dragging a police officer who was directing traffic after a fatal accident that claimed the life of 69-year-old John Mills, a worker with a vendor for PGA of America, the organizer of the PGA Championship.

Scheffler has called the episode a “big misunderstanding,” and Romines on Wednesday strongly denied the officer had been dragged.

The golfer’s arrest was a dramatic shakeup for the PGA Championship, given Scheffler – a new father who one golf writer described as an upstanding, “squeaky clean” player – was the overwhelming favorite on the heels of winning his second Masters title last month. He ultimately finished eight shots behind the winner, Xander Schauffele, for a share of eighth place.

“I did my best to leave that behind me and come out here and compete and do what I love, and the support I got from the fans was amazing,” Scheffler told reporters May 19, following the tournament.

Scheffler on Wednesday echoed that gratitude: “I appreciate the support during the past two weeks and want to again encourage everyone to remember the real tragedy of May 17,” he said. “My thoughts and prayers continue to be with John Mills and his family, and I hope to personally offer my condolences now that the case is over.”

Bodycam footage shows Scheffler at scene

Wednesday’s hearing unfolded as body camera footage surfaced showing an initial conversation Scheffler had with a law enforcement officer following his arrest at the scene. It appears to show an officer reading Scheffler his Miranda rights before questioning the golfer about the incident.

Scheffler believed another officer had directed him around traffic to enter Valhalla Golf Club, he says. Then a different officer ordered him to stop.

“I did not know that he was a police officer,” Scheffler says in the video of a man later identified as Louisville Det. Bryan Gillis. “I thought he was one of the security guards,” the golfer says, acknowledging he was “mistaken.”

“Why does it matter if he’s a security guard or a police officer,” the officer asks, “if somebody’s telling you to stop?”

“Yes, you’re right. I should have stopped,” Scheffler says. “I did get a little bit impatient because I’m quite late for my tee time.”

“As he was reaching in the car, he grabbed my shoulder and hit me,” the golfer continues, calling it a “little bit-over-aggressive.” Scheffler says he was afraid because, “I thought he was going to start hitting me, and I didn’t know who he was. He didn’t tell me he was a police officer. All I saw was a yellow jacket.”

The officer tells the golfer: “What happened is, you kept going and you took him with you. He’s a pedestrian, OK? So you took him with your car, and drug him, which is not a good thing, right?”

When Scheffler asks if he can speak with Gillis to explain himself, the officer says no.

Asked Wednesday about the footage, Romines said it showed his client being “interrogated after the most stressful situation of his life,” accusing the officer of asking the golfer “leading questions.”

CNN has reached out to Louisville police regarding the claim Scheffler was hit and asked leading questions.

“He didn’t have to speak. But again, he asked to talk to the officer, he wanted to explain to him what happened,” Romines said.

The footage, Romines said, shows the “quality of (Scheffler’s) character, by trying to defuse the situation.”

In a Wednesday statement obtained by CNN affiliate WAVE, Gillis said “there will be no ill will over (the incident) going forward” and said he and his family appreciated that Scheffler spoke with “dignity, humility and respect.”

Gillis’ statement went on to challenge Romines’ claims that the officer had not been dragged, saying: “To be clear, I was drug by the car, I went to the ground, and I received visible injuries to my knees and wrist.”

“I’m going to recover from it, and it will be ok,” Gillis said, according to the affiliate. “The reality is that there are more important things in the world right now than a back-and-forth over this. A person lost his life that day, and a family lost a loved one.”

‘A very chaotic situation’

The arrest unfolded around 6 a.m. on May 17, when Scheffler was trying to drive to the Valhalla Golf Club for the second round of the golf major and came upon heavy traffic near the scene of a fatal crash.

Earlier in the morning, a pedestrian – Mills, whose family said he enjoyed working in security at Valhalla – was fatally struck by a bus while trying to cross the main road leading to the course, Louisville police spokesperson Dwight Mitchell said. As a result, police had an increased presence around the course’s entrance.

Scheffler – driving a marked player courtesy vehicle, according to ESPN – was trying to gain access to the course when he was stopped by an officer wearing a full police uniform and a yellow reflective rain jacket, a Louisville police report says. That officer, Gillis, stopped Scheffler and attempted to give instructions.

“Subject refused to comply and accelerated forward, dragging Detective Gillis to the ground,” the report states.

The detective suffered pain, swelling and cuts to his left wrist and knee and was taken to a hospital for further treatment, the report states.

At a news conference last week where video of the incident was released, Louisville Police Chief Jacquelyn Gwinn-Villaroel said the detective failed to turn on his body-worn camera and “corrective action for the policy violation” has been taken.

Scheffler was detained and arrested, but he was later released from jail and returned to the golf course for his tee time four hours later. Scheffler that day said he believed he was following officers’ instructions, according to a statement shared on his Instagram account.

Despite spending part of his morning in a jail cell, Scheffler played well May 17 and shot 5-under par, leaving him near the top of the leaderboard. But he struggled the next day, leaving himself with too much ground to make up to clinch a second consecutive major.

This is a developing story and has been updated.

CNN’s Emma Tucker reported from Louisville, while Dakin Andone reported and wrote this story in New York. Andy Rose reported from Atlanta and Gabe Cohen reported from Washington, DC. Steve Almasy, Gloria Pazmino, Jill Martin, Jack Bantock, Eric Levenson and Ray Sanchez contributed to this report.

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