University of Kansas

Prosecutor drops battery charge against KU’s Carlton Bragg, files charge against woman

Saleeha Soofi booking photo.
Saleeha Soofi booking photo. Douglas County Sheriff’s Office

The Douglas County District Attorney’s office on Wednesday dismissed the misdemeanor battery charge against Kansas basketball player Carlton Bragg and filed a battery charge against Saleeha Soofi, the woman who claimed Bragg punched her.

The decision by Douglas County District Attorney Charles Branson came after the Lawrence Police Department obtained surveillance video that showed a woman shoving and pushing a man, according to a release from the prosecutor’s office.

After the charge was dropped, KU coach Bill Self lifted Bragg’s indefinite suspension from competition.

Bragg, who turned 21 Wednesday, pleaded not guilty Friday afternoon after he was accused of striking Soofi, 19, in the face and pushing her down stairs early that morning. Before the charge was dropped, Bragg’s attorney, Hatem Chahine, argued in a motion filed Wednesday that his client acted in self defense.

“I’m glad that after further investigation … this is the outcome I anticipated,” Chahine told The Star after the charge was dropped. “We’re just very lucky that there was a video that ended up vindicating him showing that what he was saying was true.”

Soofi did not return a message from The Star asking for comment.

Chahine’s motion said Bragg was at a party at the Delta Upsilon fraternity house near the KU campus when Soofi, also a KU student, grabbed his arm around midnight and walked him into a stairway, where she accused him of sleeping with her best friend. When Bragg started to speak, according to the defense motion, she yelled at him and struck him with an open palm on the right side of his face.

The defense motion said Soofi continued to yell at and hit Bragg until he tried to block her hand “at about the eighth slap.”

According to the district attorney’s office, the surveillance video depicted a male and female arguing in a stairwell; the female shoved and slapped the male in the chest and placed her hands near the male’s neck.

Bragg, according to the KU basketball roster, is 6 feet 10 and 240 pounds. Soofi was listed at 5 feet 5 in Douglas County jail records.

“After being struck by female, the male forcefully shoves her away from him causing the female to fall backwards up the ascending stairs behind her,” according to the prosecutor’s office release.

The defense motion said Soofi was under the influence of alcohol. Bragg was suspected of using alcohol and drugs, according to a Lawrence police report.

Chahine told The Star he had not seen the video. When asked by The Star, Self declined to comment on the district attorney’s account of the video and Bragg’s suspected use of alcohol and drugs.

“We’re moving forward,” Self told The Star.

According to the district attorney, the office found probable cause to file a charge against Bragg after a review. He told investigators Friday that he argued with Soofi but did not strike her. Prosecutors also reviewed a 911 call, initial investigative reports and photographs of Soofi’s injuries, including one to her elbow.

Soofi was questioned by police Friday and, according to the district attorney, said she may have struck Bragg first during the argument. She was held on suspicion of battery and released Saturday while the district attorney continued to review the case. Police later recovered the video.

“As we have said since this incident occurred, it was important for us to take this issue seriously and to allow the process to play out,” Self said in a release from the KU athletic department. “We appreciate the authorities handling this issue in a timely manner. Now that they have made their decision, Carlton is no longer suspended from competition.

“I’m proud of the way Carlton has handled this situation, considering all the negative publicity he has received both locally and nationally. He knew all the facts and knew that he needed to refrain from comment while the investigation took place.

“We’re glad this situation is resolved.”

Bragg sat on KU’s bench Saturday during the Jayhawks’ victory over Nebraska and will be eligible to play this Saturday when KU plays Davidson at the Sprint Center in Kansas City.

“This has been a difficult and humiliating experience for me, and I’m glad it’s over,” Bragg said in KU’s release. “I appreciate the authorities taking the time to get this right. I also appreciate the support of my teammates and coaches, and I’m glad I can put this behind me and move forward.”

The Star’s Gary Bedore contributed to this report.

Jesse Newell: 816-234-4759, @jessenewell

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