Tue, Jan 18, 2005 - Page 20 News List

Former Pro Bowl star shot by police during altercation

NY TIMES NEWS SERVICE , MIAMI, FLORIDA

Barret Robbins was in critical condition at a Miami hospital Sunday after his troubled life took a grim turn Saturday night when he was shot by a Miami Beach police detective investigating a robbery.

Robbins, the former Oakland Raiders Pro Bowl center who has struggled with bipolar disorder, was shot several times in the torso during a struggle with Detective Mike Muley, the police spokesman Bobby Hernandez said.

"The officer was literally fighting for his life, trying to get Mr. Robbins from getting his gun," Hernandez said, according to AP. "That's when the shots rang out."

Muley was treated for minor head injuries at a hospital and released. He was dispatched to a second-floor office on Washington Avenue in South Beach -- above the nightclub Mansion -- shortly after 8pm Saturday by a store owner reporting a robbery. Muley then scuffled with Robbins, who weighs at least 350 pounds.

The Miami Beach police have yet to determine whether to charge Robbins with attempted robbery or trespassing because they have been unable to interview him. Robbins is at the Ryder Trauma Center at Jackson Memorial Hospital.

Robbins was found to have a bipolar disorder after missing the Raiders' two final meetings and the walk-through before the 2003 Super Bowl in San Diego; he was suspended for the game.

Instead of preparing for the game of his life, Robbins spent that Super Bowl eve in Tijuana, Mexico, drinking heavily and occasionally crying, he later acknowledged.

Drew Pittman, Robbins' Dallas-based former agent, said he was convinced that Robbins was not committing a robbery Saturday.

"That's a classic sign of somebody who's bipolar and having what they call a bipolar episode, which is a psychotic episode, where he doesn't know what's going on," Pittman said by telephone from his Dallas home. "He's never had an issue like this when he's been on his medication. So common sense tells you he's not on his medication. Robbery doesn't even make sense."

Pittman also said he believes that Robbins, who played nine NFL seasons, all for the Raiders, was off his medication when he was arrested on Dec. 24 in San Francisco on battery and drunk and disorderly conduct charges. Robbins was accused of striking a nightclub security guard. The police report said he wanted to enter a bar when it was closing.

After missing the Super Bowl, which was won by Tampa Bay in a 48-21 romp, Robbins vowed to return to football with renewed dedication. But he never seemed to regain the trust of some of his teammates and was released by the Raiders last July.

The release came a week after he and two other players were fined for testing positive for the designer steroid THG.

"Our thoughts and prayers go out to Barret and his family and we hope he makes a full and speedy recovery," the Raiders said in a statement Sunday.

The bipolar disorder that plagues Robbins is characterized by wide mood swings.

Pittman said a person's life could easily be destroyed before he or she learns how to control the disorder.

"A lot of people have it, but they're not former NFL stars, so it doesn't get much attention," Pittman said.

"Look, it's sad and it's tragic, but there's mental illness in this world. It's just that this is no different than the guy who's living under a bridge.

"He has a psychotic episode and he walks into a convenience store and starts beating someone up. And then he gets shot because the cops come in and they don't understand what the problem really is."

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