SUGAR BOWL: FSU'S STAR DEFENSIVE BACK DEION SANDERS ARRESTED

Published: Monday, Dec. 26 1988 12:00 a.m. MST

Florida State coach Bobby Bowden wants to talk with Deion Sanders before deciding whether the All-American cornerback will play in the Sugar Bowl.

"I really can't comment until I get home and find out exactly what happened," Bowden said in a Christmas Day telephone interview after hearing that Sanders was arrested. "I'll talk to my coaches (Monday) and I'll have to talk to Deion."We'll meet then and make whatever decisions need to be made," Bowden said.

Sanders, 21, who was arrested Christmas Eve after an incident in a Fort Myers, Fla., gift shop, was charged with battery on a police officer and disorderly conduct. He was released Saturday night after posting $2,600 bond, police said.

Tony Cail, the Fort Myers auxiliary police officer injured in the altercation, was treated at a hospital and released Saturday night.

Bowden, who was to return home from Alabama late Sunday to begin preparations for the Jan. 2 Sugar Bowl game against Auburn, said he had received sketchy details about the incident in a telephone call from an assistant coach.

The trouble started as Sanders, a two-time All-American and finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award given to the nation's best defensive back, and two friends, John Connors and Richard Fain of Fort Myers, were buying a pair of earrings at a specialty gift store, Fain said.

Fain, a defensive back for the University of Florida, said the store clerk was confused about who would pay for the earrings, which were intended as a gift for a friend of Sanders.

Fain said the woman handed the earrings to another clerk who was standing at the cash register. The male clerk asked Sanders for money. Sanders said he had already given the first clerk $25, and an exchange of insults began.

Gayle Cooke, who was in the store, told the Fort Myers News-Press that Sanders then struck the female clerk twice with a clenched fist on the shoulder. But Fain says he didn't see Sanders hit the woman.

Sanders and his friends then tried to walk out of the store. Fain said they were confronted by Fort Myers police officers and members of the department's auxiliary.

Three of them seized Sanders, Fain said.

"They grabbed Deion by his chain, and they were choking him," Fain said. "They broke Deion's chain, they were choking him so bad. When his chain broke, that's when Deion hit him (the auxiliary police officer). What else could he do, what else could he do?"

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