Western Kentucky tight end Tyler Higbee plans to plead not guilty to charges stemming from an altercation this weekend. His lawyer told NFL Media that Higbee was defending himself during the incident.
According to Brian Lowder, Higbee's Bowling Green-based attorney, the alleged victim shoved Higbee's girlfriend after following her from another establishment. Per Lowder, that led Higbee to throw a punch that knocked the victim, Nawaf Alsaleh, to the ground.
"Our defense is that (Higbee) was justified in using force based on the aggressive and physical actions of the alleged victim," Lowder said. "(Alsaleh) started the altercation, escalated it, shoved Mr. Higbee's girlfriend, and at that point, Mr. Higbee utilized force to neutralize the situation. Mr. Higbee struck the individual one time and unfortunately, he hit his head, which caused the injuries."
Higbee, one of the top tight end prospects in the 2016 NFL Draft, was arrested early Sunday morning and charged with second-degree assault, second-degree evading police and public intoxication. It was the result of a fight outside a Bowling Green bar that left the victim, Alsaleh, with a concussion and brain hemorrhage, according to police.
Higbee was released at 3:15 p.m. CT on Sunday.
According to the police report, Higbee was at a bar with his girlfriend when Alsaleh repeatedly bothered them. Lowder said that Alsaleh left the previous bar to follow Higbee's girlfriend. Alsaleh and Higbee did not know each other prior to this weekend.
As for the charge of evading police, Lowder said Higbee did leave the scene, but upon encountering police, he stopped on their command and has been cooperating.
Alsaleh has two DUIs and has been booked at Warren County Regional Jail five times, according to court records.
Higbee is rated as NFL Media draft expert Mike Mayock's fifth-best tight end prospect. He is scheduled to appear in court for an arraignment on May 5, a week after the NFL draft. There will be a preliminary hearing a week or so after.