ERIE, Pa. (WJET) — Two student-athletes from Mercyhurst University in Erie, Pennsylvania, are now facing criminal charges after surveillance video from a bar appeared to show them pushing a disabled woman’s wheelchair down a staircase while she was in the bathroom earlier this month.
Erie Police say misdemeanor counts of criminal mischief and criminal conspiracy to commit criminal mischief have been filed against lacrosse player Patrick Carrozzi and hockey player Carson Briere – the son of Daniel Briere, a former NHL player and interim general manager of the Philadelphia Flyers – for the incident.
Briere and Carrozzi are also facing summary charges of disorderly conduct. They’re being charged by mail.
In the surveillance video, below, Briere and Carrozzi are seen surrounding the empty wheelchair, which was said to be left at the top of a staircase at Sullivan’s Irish Pub after its owner, Sydney Benes, was carried to the pub’s downstairs bathrooms. Briere then sits in the unoccupied wheelchair before getting up and pushing it down the stairs.
Following the incident, an employee at Sullivan’s said he threw Briere out of the bar.
“I grabbed him on the shoulders and said, ‘I’ve got video of you tossing a wheelchair down the steps, like it’s time to go,’” Nate Sanders, the security manager at Sullivan’s, told Nexstar’s WJET.
Briere issued a statement last week, noting his “serious lack of judgment” while saying he was “deeply sorry.”
He and Carrozzi have been permanently banned from the pub. Both men, as well as a third unidentified student-athlete, were placed on interim suspensions from their teams by Mercyhurst Athletics.
Benes, the owner of the wheelchair, spoke with WJET after the incident. The 22-year-old lost her legs following a 2021 car accident that left her trapped as the vehicle burned. She suffered third-degree burns on 34% of her body, mostly from the waist down, leading doctors to amputate her feet.
The former soccer player said she suffered a bad infection as well, which forced doctors to amputate her legs.
“I have to go through so much and people treat my stuff like this? The stuff that I use to get around? I have nothing else,” Benes said. She’s hoping to use the newfound attention to advocate for others. “We are treated like things, like second-class citizens, we’re not treated with respect.”
Preliminary hearings for Briere and Carrozzi are set for May 22.