Justin Watkins’ domestic battery incident began over Instagram like by Florida teammate

By Adam Silverstein
August 3, 2018
Justin Watkins’ domestic battery incident began over Instagram like by Florida teammate

Image Credit: @GatorsFB/Twitter

Head football coach Dan Mullen on Thursday confirmed the departure of four-star freshman Justin Watkins from the Florida Gators program, days after Watkins himself announced he was moving on from the team following an arrest on four charges, including a pair of third-degree felonies for domestic battery by strangulation and kidnapping-false imprisonment of an adult.

The arrest was Watkins’ second such incident in the last three months, though it was his first since enrolling at Florida and formally joining the program.

While some details of the incident and Watkins’ subsequent arrest have previously been known, a more detailed and redacted incident report provided to OnlyGators.com by the University Police Department expounds on the genesis of the conflict and specifics of what went down on Friday, July 20.

The conflict between Watkins and his girlfriend of eight months, an 18-year-old Santa Fe student set to enroll at UF in August, was not immediately reported by the victim because she did not want to jeopardize “Watkins’ football status and source of family income.” The victim’s mother convinced her to report the incident three days later on Monday, July 23.

While separated from the eventual victim, Watkins grew jealous when he noticed teammate Vosean Joseph, a junior linebacker, had “liked” some of her pictures on Instagram. He confronted the victim when she arrived at his dorm, asking where she was coming from and why Joseph liked her pictures. The victim stated she had never met Joseph, but Watkins did not believer her and held a FaceTime video chat with Joseph to find out. Joseph confirmed he did not know the victim, but Watkins did not believe either of them and allegedly stated, “If you don’t say the truth, I’ll kill her.”

It was at that moment that the domestic battery began as Watkins allegedly pinned the victim to the bed, knocked his head against hers and struck her both with open hands and closed fists while questioning her about Joseph and other men. She denied cheating on him. Watkins then allegedly checked her for hickies, “grabbed her by the collar of her shirt and threw her around the room and back onto the bed.”

Watkins called Joseph back at that point, threatening him. “Bro, when I see you, I’mma beat your ass,” Watkins allegedly said. “You twerkin’ bro; I never met that girl,” Joseph replied. Joseph confirmed his FaceTime conversations and calls with Watkins during an interview with officers.

After throwing the phone down, Watkins pinned the victim to the bed again and allegedly began choking her while straddling her body, first for 15 seconds and then twice more for eights seconds each despite allgedly knowing the victim had asthma. She demanded he leave, but Watkins blocked the doorway and exclaimed, “I can’t believe this happened to me again,” while talking to himself.

The victim was able to acquire mace from her bag while lying down and told Watkins she would use it if he would not allow her to leave. This led Watkins to allegedly threaten to “show up at her mothers house,” to which the victim told him again she wanted to leave and that she would be calling the police. Watkins allegedly “pulled her hair and hooded jacket, yanking her back into the room” before “grabb[ing] her belt and yank[ing] her backward causing marks/bleeding on her stomach.”

This allowed the victim a window to spray him with mace and escape. Watkins allegedly followed and threw a variety of objects at her, including a wooden brush and container of hair grease that made contact with her, causing bleeding and swelling on her hands. The victim told police she was in so much pain that, while trying to drive home, she had to wait in the parking lot for an hour before making a second attempt.

During an interview with UPD on Tuesday following the victim’s report, Watkins changed his story multiple times. First, he denied being with the victim on July 20 and claimed they were not in a relationship. He then changed course and said he likely impregnated her two months earlier; it is not stated in the police report whether the victim actually is pregnant. Watkins claimed the victim “shoved her way into his apartment,” referring to her as “crazy and a whore,” per the police report. He claimed that his hands were too full to stop her from entering and that she sprayed him with mace because he would not allow her to enter his bedroom of the dorm suite.

Watkins originally stated that Joseph was not involved or contacted during the incident before an officer pointed out that call history can be obtained. Watkins then said he was positive the victim was cheating on him with Joseph “based on Instagram activity” and admitted to standing in the victim’s way, being sprayed with mace and throwing items at her.

While handcuffed and in the back of a squad car being driven to the police station, Watkins allegedly told an officer that “Joseph does ‘voodoo’ and has been doing voodoo on Watkins for some time now, causing problems in his life, such as his phone screen crashing.”

Watkins spent three days in jail before posting $40,000 bond. There is a standing no contact order with the victim.

Back in May, a couple months after signing his National Letter of Intent with Florida, Watkins was arrested for trespassing on school grounds following a verbal altercation with a woman that allegedly included destruction of property.

At the time, Mullen noted he was “aware of the incident” and “collecting information.” No punishment was ever announced for Watkins as this occurred after spring practice and the player was not yet enrolled at Florida. Watkins enrolled in the Summer B semester and formally joined the Gators. Mullen suspended Watkins from all team activities following the second incident.

Ranked as the 89th best player in the nation and Florida’s fourth-highest rated commitment in the Class of 2018, Watkins was expected to join the Gators as a wide receiver but might have begun his career in the secondary due to an immediate need at the cornerback position.


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