Devin Butler was born the year AFTER I graduated. Which makes him twenty-one. So he ended up at The ‘Backer last Friday. His season ended shortly thereafter.
He’s lucky to be alive. At some point during his physical altercation with South Bend police officers Luke Pickard and Aaron Knepper, Butler punched Knepper several times, wrestled him to the ground and “physically ripped” Knepper’s duty belt off his body. Knepper was subsequently able to deploy his Taser and subdue his assailant.
Knepper, or his partner, could have had grounds to use lethal force. On the use of force continuum, grappling with a police officer usually gets you Tased or hit with a baton. But it could get you shot, too. If Butler separated Officer Knepper from his gun, Pickard could have made a justifiable decision to shoot him. It might not have been the right decision, but it might not have been wrong, either.
Unfortunately, we’ve had to write too often about Notre Dame’s disciplinary process. Suffice it to say that a student who is charged with a felony can be summarily, but temporarily, expelled. A conviction can result in permanent dismissal. For Butler, the University’s investigation and adjudication process will run parallel with the District Attorney’s process. He could beat the charges and avoid jail, but the University could find his conduct, which involved alcohol and violence, so negatively impacted the community and the school that his continuing enrollment would impossible.
Butler was apparently immediately sorrowful and remorseful, but his conduct could be found to have been so egregious that he should be separated from Notre Dame. Because he did not immediately kick him off the team, I believe Kelly wants to give him a chance. But Kelly may not get that chance. Butler is facing multiple charges and if he sinks under du Lac, there’s nothing Kelly can do to save him.
I’d be surprised if Butler is not suspended for the season. I would not be surprised if he were expelled. If he is allowed to stay and to remain a part of the team, it would not be the only bullet Devin dodged.