Update, 6:15 p.m. UC Berkeley has confirmed that Ogunbanjo was suspended from the Cal football team during the fall season. He is no longer on the team at all, said Herb Benenson, associate director of Intercollegiate Athletics at Cal.
“We are aware of an incident involving Joseph Ogunbanjo, and the details as described by the Berkeley Police Department are troubling,” Benenson said in a prepared statement. “While he is no longer a member of our football program, we remain concerned for his well-being.”
No further information was available about Ogunbanjo’s suspension or his later termination from the team due to student privacy laws, Benenson told Berkeleyside.
Original story, 2:50 p.m. Police arrested a Cal football player over the weekend after he reportedly flagged down a Berkeley police officer, tried to grab his gun during a violent struggle and attempted to take his patrol vehicle, authorities report.
The man, who ultimately was arrested, has been identified as 19-year-old Joseph Adeyem Wisdom Ogunbanjo of Berkeley.
BPD spokesman Officer Byron White said an officer was driving south on Gayley Road, near University Drive on the UC Berkeley campus, when someone walking near the center median flagged him down at 1 a.m. Sunday.
“After starting a conversation with the officer at the driver’s side window, the man asked the officer about his handgun and whether or not he could drive the police vehicle. When the officer told the man that he could not drive the vehicle and directed him to step away from the police vehicle, the man forcibly opened the driver’s side door,” BPD said in a prepared statement.
The officer got out of his vehicle and ordered the man to sit on the ground. Initially, he complied, police said. But, moments later, he walked up to the officer and grabbed him, according to White.
“The officer pushed the man away, but the man continued his attack — each time tightening his grasp,” White said. The officer called for emergency back-up and attempted to handcuff the man, who “tried to grab the officer’s holstered handgun.”
During the attack, described by White as “a scary series of events,” the man also demanded the officer’s gun, he said. When the officer’s body-worn camera fell on the ground as a result of the struggle, White said, the man picked it up and put it in his pocket.
At one point, the man elbowed the officer in the head and got into the driver’s seat of his patrol vehicle, according to police. White pointed out that the vehicle is equipped with a shotgun.
The officer ultimately used his baton to get the man out of the vehicle, White said.
Once other officers arrived, they were able to restrain him and take him into custody.
Ogunbanjo was arrested on suspicion of attempted carjacking, threatening violence on a police officer, attempting to remove an officer’s weapon and battery on a police officer.
The officer was evaluated at the scene and did not require additional medical treatment, White said, adding that the officer had been lucky: “Anytime you hit somebody in the head, you don’t know what kind of lasting effects there could be.”
At some point Sunday after his arrest, Ogunbanjo was taken from Berkeley Jail to a hospital for evaluation, where he remained as of publication time, White said.
According to booking records online, Ogunbanjo was held on $195,000 bail and is scheduled for arraignment Wednesday at the Wiley Manuel Courthouse in Oakland.
That hearing date may change, however, if Ogunbanjo remains in the hospital.
White said, considering the circumstances of the attack, everyone involved was fortunate.
“This could have very easily ended in tragedy,” he said.
According to the Cal Bears website*, Ogunbanjo — who is 6 foot 3 and weighs 240 pounds — is a linebacker on the Cal football team and a sophomore at UC Berkeley. He is from Houston, Texas, and attended Alief Taylor High School. He plans to major in engineering, according to his profile on the site.
During his Cal football career, which began in 2018, Ogunbanjo “has played in 11 games all off the bench and recorded five tackles and one quarterback hurry,” according to his profile.
The Daily Californian reported in October that Ogunbanjo had been suspended “indefinitely.” from the team. A reason was not provided.
Berkeleyside has asked Cal Athletics for comment and confirmation and will update this story when that information becomes available.
* Note: As of 7 p.m., Cal Athletics had removed Ogunbanjo’s profile from its website. Berkeleyside has replaced the link in the story with a PDF of what appeared there as of publication time.