Charges Against World's Top Golfer Scottie Scheffler Dropped After Arrest Outside Pga Championship

Jefferson County Attorney Mike O'Connell speaks to reporters outside the Hall of Justice after dismissing the case against golfer Scottie Scheffler, Wednesday, May 29, 2024, in Louisville, Ky.,(AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
Jefferson County Attorney Mike O'Connell speaks to reporters outside the Hall of Justice after dismissing the case against golfer Scottie Scheffler, Wednesday, May 29, 2024, in Louisville, Ky.,(AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Criminal charges against Scottie Scheffler have been dismissed, ending a legal saga that began with images of the world’s top golfer being arrested and handcuffed in Louisville during the PGA Championship.

Jefferson County Attorney Mike O’Connell asked a judge Wednesday afternoon to drop the four charges against Scheffler, who was not required to be in the courtroom. The prosecutor said Scheffler's explanation that he had a misunderstanding with police directing traffic was "corroborated by the evidence.”

“Based upon the totality of the evidence, my office cannot move forward in the prosecution of the charges filed against Mr. Scheffler," O'Connell said during the short hearing.

Scheffler said in an Instagram post Wednesday that his May 17 arrest and jailing was an “unfortunate misunderstanding” during a “chaotic situation.”

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

Scheffler had been charged with a felony for assaulting a police officer with his vehicle, along with three misdemeanors. The arresting officer, Detective Bryan Gillis, was outside the gate of Valhalla Golf Course directing traffic after a pedestrian death when he encountered Scheffler.

Video of Scheffler in handcuffs being escorted by officers quickly spread on the internet, followed by a mug shot of Scheffler in an orange jumpsuit from Louisville's jail.

O’Connell said Wednesday that his office thoroughly reviewed evidence in the case before deciding to dismiss charges.

“The evidence we reviewed supports the conclusion that Detective Gillis was concerned for public safety at the scene when he initiated contact with Mr. Scheffler,” O’Connell said. “However, Mr. Scheffler’s actions and the evidence surrounding their exchange during this misunderstanding do not satisfy the elements of any criminal offenses.”

Scheffler was not aware there had been a pedestrian death, and several PGA-marked vehicles like Scheffler's were able to enter the course without a problem, O'Connell said. But a passenger bus attempting to enter was halted and told to turn around. Gillis was on the scene stopping vehicles so the bus would have room to pivot, and Scheffler's car was among the first to reach the point where Gillis was stopping traffic, O'Connell said.

Gillis said in a police report that Scheffler then “refused to comply and accelerated forward, dragging” Gillis to the ground. Gillis said his uniform pants were damaged in the fall and he was taken to the hospital for his injuries.

A surveillance video released by Louisville police last week showed Gillis pursuing Scheffler’s vehicle on foot and stopping him from entering the course. Scheffler is later pulled from the car and cuffed. But the video did not show Gillis’ first contact with Scheffler, authorities said.

Gillis has been disciplined for not activating his body-worn camera during the arrest. In a report on that failure, Gillis wrote that Scheffler had “demanded to be let in” the golf course.

The famous golfer spent a brief stint in a jail cell, then returned to the course for the second round. He finished the tournament tied for eighth place.

Scheffler’s attorney, Steve Romines, said eyewitness accounts confirmed that the officer was not dragged by his client's car.

“The more evidence that comes out, the more it shows that Scottie was a victim here. And I think everybody sees something like this happen and realizes they’re one wrong turn ... from going to jail themselves,” he said after the hearing.

Romines also said there were grounds for a civil lawsuit against Louisville police but Scheffler is not interested in pursuing litigation.

“Scottie Scheffler doesn’t want the taxpayers of Louisville to have to pay him a dime,” he said.

O'Connell and Romines also addressed the death of the pedestrian, a 69-year-old tournament volunteer named John Mills.

“The events that led us here today began with a tragedy ... and my hope is more attention will soon be paid to Mr. Mills and his life," O'Connell said.

Romines said he has spoken to Mills' family to extend condolences from Scheffler.

“These kind of tournaments can't go on without people like John Mills working out there,” Romines said.


Associated Press writer Bruce Schreiner contributed to this report.