Three Former Bruins Charged With Assault

Times Staff Writer

Three former UCLA football players -- Ricky Manning Jr., Maurice Drew and Tyler Ebell -- were charged with assault Thursday, stemming from an alleged attack on a man in a Denny’s restaurant in Westwood on April 23.

Manning, who played defensive back for UCLA from 1999 to 2002 and signed a five-year, $21-million free-agent deal with the Chicago Bears last month, is charged with one count of assault by means likely to produce great bodily injury for his alleged role in the fight that left a man unconscious.

Manning was arrested minutes after the attack when he was stopped by police after he left the restaurant with his companions in a sport-utility vehicle that he was driving. According to Los Angeles Police Department Det. Robert Lewis, the victim regained consciousness and identified Manning as one of his attackers.


On Thursday, Manning, who has been free on $30,000 bail, was officially charged. His arraignment was postponed to May 26 at Los Angeles Airport Courthouse.

This is not Manning’s first brush with the law. He was on probation for a similar incident in April 2002, and would face up to four years in state prison if convicted.

“Unfortunately, I can’t talk about any legal business,” Manning said during the week after the incident in a conference call after the Carolina Panthers declined to match the Bears’ offer sheet. “I was advised by my agent that I can’t talk about any legal business or what happened.... But when things are sorted out, I’ll be more than happy to tell my side of the story so you can find out what happened.”

Drew, UCLA’s leading rusher the last three seasons who opted for the NFL after his junior season, was also charged with assault Thursday. He was not arrested with Manning the day of the attack.

Drew, the second-round pick of the Jacksonville Jaguars on April 29, has not taken classes at UCLA since a victory over Northwestern in the Sun Bowl. He declined comment at an NFL rookie autograph signing event Thursday night in Beverly Hills.

Ebell, who led UCLA in rushing as a freshman in 2002 but finished his college career at Texas El Paso last year, also was charged with assault Thursday. Like Drew, he was not arrested the day of the attack. Drew and Ebell also are expected to be arraigned at a later date.

According to reports, the three allegedly were among a group that harassed a man working on a laptop computer at the restaurant.

“The group began by making comments that the victim looked like a geek or a nerd,” Lewis told reporters days after the attack.

The victim asked the group to stop and then complained to a Denny’s manager before someone in the group punched him in the face. He then was punched and kicked by multiple attackers until losing consciousness, according to Lewis.

The group left the restaurant, and Manning’s SUV was pulled over by police in Westwood Village.