New York Giants cornerback Deandre Baker and Seattle Seahawks cornerback Quinton Dunbar face arrest warrants in Miramar, Florida for multiple counts of armed robbery with a firearm—a charge that carries a maximum sentence of life in prison. The two also face charges for aggravated assault with a firearm, a conviction for which carries a possible five-year prison term.
Baker and Dunbar are accused of partaking in a brazen, multi-person robbery at a party in Miramar on Wednesday night. According to an affidavit filed by a Miramar detective in Broward County Circuit Court, problems at the party surfaced when Baker was seen with a gun in his hand and “pointing it at one of the attendees.”
Baker, according to a witness whose name has been redacted, directed other attendees to take money and valuables from people at the party. Dunbar, the witness recalls, assisted Baker in taking these items. Another witness told police that at a different party two days earlier, Baker and Dunbar had lost about $70,000. This information, if verified, is potentially significant. It could help prosecutors argue that Baker and Dunbar had a motive: recoup their losses.
In addition, an unknown assailant who was wearing a red mask allegedly took $800 in cash and a Rolex Watch worth $18,000. The assailant allegedly did so at the direction of Baker, who is also accused of directing the assailant to threaten to shoot a person who had just walked into the party.
The affidavit goes on to claim that a witness saw Baker point a gun at a partygoer, an incident which placed the victim in fear for his life. The assailant in the red mask then took from this man $7,000 in cash and a Hublot Watch valued at $25,000. At another point, Baker and a person identified only as “Shy” were playing cards with others when Baker and Shy pointed their firearms to take more money and other valuables. The affidavit also claims that Baker, Dunbar and other conspirators had pre-positioned their cars to “expedite an immediate departure from the area.” The affidavit also indicates that five witnesses (four of whom are identified as victims) spoke with the police. Attempts by law enforcement to speak with Baker and Dunbar were unsuccessful.
Both Baker, 22, and Dunbar, 27, have personal ties to Miami. Baker, whom the Giants drafted with the No. 30 selection in the 2019 NFL Draft, is from Miami. He played at Miami Northwestern Senior High School before starring at the University of Georgia. Dunbar attended Miami's Booker T. Washington High School and the University of Florida in Gainesville.
According to reports, neither Baker nor Dunbar has been arrested at this time. When they are arrested, they’ll face charges that will alter their lives and NFL careers.
Under Florida law, each faces four counts of armed robbery with a firearm, along with three counts of aggravated assault with a firearm. Both are serious charges, but armed robbery with a firearm is especially grave. It refers to a robbery where the offender carries a firearm or other deadly weapon. To prove the charge, prosecutors must show that Baker (and Dunbar) took money or property with the intent to permanently or temporarily deprive a victim of the property and, in the course of doing so, engaged in “the use of force, violence, assault or putting [the victim] in fear.” The charge becomes a felony in the first degree when the offender carries a firearm or other deadly weapon.
As mentioned above, a conviction can lead to a maximum of life in prison. Neither Baker nor Dunbar would likely get anywhere near a life sentence but would still face the prospect of spending years in prison. To that point, Florida has a mandatory minimum sentencing law, 10-20-Life, for felonies in which a firearm is used or attempted to be used. Depending on what is proven in court, the law could apply and require Baker and Dunbar (if convicted) to serve at least 10 years behind bars.
Baker and Dunbar will have an opportunity to offer a defense. Their best defense would be if they have an alibi and can show they weren’t at the party. That seems unlikely given that multiple eyewitnesses told police they saw Baker and Dunbar at the party and, in some cases, interacted with them. It’s also possible that electronic evidence, such as surveillance cameras or photos or videos taken on partygoers’ iPhone cameras, place Baker and Dunbar at the scene. Several witnesses also recall seeing Baker holding or carrying a gun, and it is alleged that Dunbar was also armed.
Assuming they were at the party, Baker and Dunbar might argue that they were not being serious and did not intend to dispossess anyone of items. The problem with such a defense is that multiple witnesses at the party clearly believed otherwise. There is also no indication Baker and Dunbar returned items to the victims. Baker and Dunbar could also assert that they were the rightful owners of the items or that they had been involuntarily intoxicated—such as being tricked into becoming drunk or high—and therefore lacked the requisite intent to commit the crime. These and other types of defenses would need to be corroborated.
Law enforcement might be interested in seeing if Baker or Dunbar would be willing to testify against the other. Prosecutors could at some point offer one a deal where he agrees to testify against the other in exchange for leniency. While the affidavit depicts both Baker and Dunbar as engaged in serious wrongdoing, Baker is portrayed as more of the leader whereas Dunbar is depicted more as an assistant. This could suggest that a conviction of Baker is a greater priority.
Team, NFL and endorsement ramifications
While the criminal process is, by far, the most important concern for Baker and Dunbar, they should also be worried about their NFL careers. Both could be disciplined or cut by their teams or punished the league. Yet it’s possible that no team or league action will be taken in the immediate future. The 2020 regular season doesn’t start for another four months (assuming the season starts on time and isn’t postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic). There is no urgency to separate Baker and Dunbar, both of whom are innocent until proven guilty.
In contrast, if the incident occurred during the season, both players could be placed on the commissioner’s exempt list, where they would be separated from their teams but still paid. The list can be used when a player is formally charged with a crime of violence, meaning one where he is accused “of having used physical force or a weapon to injure or threaten another person,” and where the commissioner believes the player may have committed the wrongful act.
Both players could also be in jeopardy of losing any endorsement deals. Those deals likely contain “morals clauses,” which permit the endorsed company to cut ties with a player-endorser when he or she is associated with a controversy that damages the athlete’s image or that of the company. Companies usually wait to conduct fact-finding before severing an endorsement deal.
Michael McCann is SI’s Legal Analyst. He is also an attorney and Director of the Sports and Entertainment Law Institute at the University of New Hampshire Franklin Pierce School of Law.