A young woman used racial slurs against De'Andre Johnson and struck him twice before the former Florida State quarterback retaliated by punching her in the face last month, Johnson's attorney Jose Baez has told NBC News.
Baez's comments were aired on the "Today" show on Tuesday, the day after a video that the state attorney's office said showed Johnson punching the woman at a Tallahassee, Fla., bar was released to the public.
“It wasn't until she struck him twice that he reacted,” Baez said of Johnson, who turned himself in to the Leon County jail last week on a notice to appear for misdemeanor battery and was released on a $500 bond.
“But he is very … he is very regretful that he didn't turn around and walk away immediately. He makes no excuses for what happened.”
Baez said witnesses heard the woman use racial epithets toward Johnson. The investigative report submitted to state attorney Willie Meggs cites witnesses who said they heard the woman tell Johnson "no" twice before he hit her.
The attorney also said Johnson “tried to de-escalate the situation” by initially grabbing her arm.
The Tallahassee Police Department has said Johnson punched a 21-year-old female FSU student June 24 while waiting to be served at Yianni's nightclub. According to the police report, she suffered "bruising under her left eye, swelling to the left cheek and upper lip and a small cut on the bridge of her nose" after the incident.
Johnson left the scene, police said, but was named by witnesses and identified in a photograph by the female student. He was suspended indefinitely from FSU football the day after the incident and dismissed from the team after the video became public on Monday.
“All he wants to do is learn from this experience and move on and get an education,” Baez said of Johnson, adding that the former Seminole has been volunteering at a women's shelter. “We certainly don't want him to pay for the rest of his life for an incident that occurred in a bar.”