Fort Worth police say use of helicopter in Manziel search not unusual


In the latest chapter of What-Will-Johnny-Do-Next, Fort Worth police used a helicopter to search for Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel early Saturday after a 23-year-old woman with whom he reportedly had an altercation earlier in the evening told officers that she was worried about his welfare.

The former Texas A&M star who became known as “Johnny Football” was later found safe, though police didn’t say where.

In a statement Saturday afternoon, Fort Worth police said officers were responding to a call at the Berkeley Luxury Apartment Homes near TCU about 2 a.m. Saturday when they found the woman, who told them she had been in a disturbance with her ex-boyfriend earlier in Dallas. Police identified Manziel by name in a tweet. The woman’s name was not mentioned, but media outlets have reported that he recently broke up with Colleen Crowley, his girlfriend of about two years, with whom he had an altercation Oct. 13 in Ohio.

“The preliminary investigation determined that a possible assault had occurred in that jurisdiction or multiple jurisdictions,” the release says. “The complainant was uncooperative with officers on scene” but expressed concern about Manziel’s well-being.

Fort Worth police tried to call Manziel, 23, and searched for him around the city, including with Air One.

Fort Worth police made no arrests and didn’t find a crime scene within their jurisdiction, the release says, but took a report and passed their information to the Dallas Police Department.

Dallas police would say only that they were notified of a possible offense and were investigating.

Fort Worth police said the use of their helicopter was within guidelines and not influenced by Manziel’s status as a sports and public figure.

The department “will deploy all useful personnel or tools available to fully investigate any call,” said Cpl. Tracey Knight, a police spokeswoman. “Especially when there is a concern for the health or safety of a person.”

Allan Saxe, a University of Texas at Arlington political science professor, author and lecturer, said it’s fair to question the use of the helicopter. “If they use it for everybody, it’s OK,” he said. “But they shouldn’t do it just for a football player” — even one with as much Texas folk-hero status as Manziel.

Bill Lane, a prominent Fort Worth attorney who often represents police officers and firefighters, joked that the helicopter probably took Manziel to Cowboys owner Jerry Jones’ house.

But the former Fort Worth councilman didn’t have a problem with its use. “If it’s available, and the senior officer on the ground thinks it’s appropriate, I don’t care if it’s Johnny Manziel or Joe Blow, that would be appropriate use of taxpayers’ money,” he said. “That’s what it’s there for.”

The Browns declined to comment on the incident, according to The NFL said it was aware of the incident and is investigating.

The embattled Cleveland Browns quarterback and his then-girlfriend were also involved in a domestic dispute in October in Ohio. No arrests were made then, either.

Manziel was seen in a Fort Worth liquor store on Jan. 16, less than a year after he entered an alcohol and drug treatment center. Since then, he’s been seen at two Dallas bars and a Dallas nightclub.

Early this month, several reports said Manziel went to a Las Vegas nightclub wearing a blond wig and fake mustache, calling himself Billy, the night before the Browns’ season finale against Pittsburgh. Manziel was ruled out for the game because of a concussion, but the team owner said he failed to report for medical treatment that morning.

In 2012, Manziel burst onto the national scene while quarterbacking the Aggies and became the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy. In 2014, he was selected in the first round of the NFL draft by the Browns, for whom he has struggled on the field and made headlines off it during his two NFL seasons.

Manziel’s future in the NFL is uncertain, and some believe he could join the Cowboys if the Browns release him. Manziel, a Texas native, and Jones have expressed mutual interest in him becoming a Cowboy. Manziel told the Star-Telegram before the 2014 draft that he grew up a Cowboys fan.

Staff writers Robert Cadwallader and Mark David Smith contributed to this report, which includes material from the Star-Telegram archives.

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