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Tuesday, August 09, 2022

Gators tight end A.C. Leonard arrested, suspended on domestic battery charges

<p>Gators freshman tight end A.C. Leonard was arrested Wednesday night for domestic battery.</p>

Gators freshman tight end A.C. Leonard was arrested Wednesday night for domestic battery.

Gators freshman tight end A.C. Leonard has been suspended indefinitely after he was arrested Wednesday night on charges of physically abusing his longtime girlfriend.

During an altercation, Leonard pushed her to the ground, pulled her hair and dragged her out of their apartment by her feet before locking the door at the Polos Complex on Williston Road, according to an arrest report.

Gainesville Police officers arrested Leonard around 9:15 p.m. during a tutoring session at Farrior Hall. He was charged with domestic battery, a misdemeanor.

Leonard's girlfriend, Nia V. Ruiz, told officers her head landed on a dog cage when he shoved her down. She also said he ripped out some of her hair and broke a necklace she was wearing.

Ruiz had a large red abrasion on her left forearm and a quarter-sized one on her right elbow, probably because she was dragged across the carpet, according to police.

After getting locked out, Ruiz went to a neighbor's apartment and called 911. Leonard, 20, and Ruiz, 21, have been dating for 17 months and started living together in January.

"I never hit her," Leonard told officers after he was arrested. "I just wanted her to leave."

Wednesday's incident was not Leonard's first display of violence. 

As a senior at Jacksonville University Christian School, Leonard was suspended by the Florida High School Athletic Association for six weeks after he took a swing at an opposing player during a game against Jacksonville Episcopal High in October 2010. It was reportedly the second episode Leonard was involved in that season.

As a freshman at Florida last season, Leonard played in nine games, catching eight passes for 99 yards.

There have now been 10 arrests and nine players arrested since Will Muschamp took over for Urban Meyer.

Of the 10 arrests, Leonard's is the first violent charge. The other nine include eight marijuana- or alcohol-related charges and one charge for driving with a suspended license and resisting arrest.

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"This behavior will not  be tolerated and A.C. has been suspended from team activities at this time," coach Will Muschamp said in a statement. 

"I certainly don't condone this type of behavior ... it is not what we expect from the University of Florida football program."

Alligator staff writer Tom Green contributed to this story.

Contact Tyler Jett at tjett@alligator.org and Tom Green at tgreen@alligator.org.

Gators freshman tight end A.C. Leonard was arrested Wednesday night for domestic battery.

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