Alabama men's basketball walk-on Kai Spears and his father, Marshall athletic director Christian Spears, issued separate statements on Thursday disputing a New York Times report released Wednesday which identified Spears as one of four Crimson Tide players on the scene of the deadly Jan. 15 shooting that led to the death of 23-year-old Jamea Jonae Harris. The incident led to the arrest of former Crimson Tide player Darius Miles on a capital murder charge and he was subsequently released from the team.
Spears took to social media on Thursday and called the report of his appearance at the scene "100% inaccurate."
"I have one thing to say — the report in the New York Times was 100% inaccurate and the writer had complete disregard for the truth," Spears said. "I am trying to process and cope with these false statements that somehow have been published and then seen by so many. So thankful to Alabama Athletics for refuting it on my behalf.
"More than anything, I remain completely heartbroken by the tragic death that occurred that night."
Spears' father, meanwhile, blasted the report as "demonstrably false" and said he is pursuing legal options.
"I am just incredibly disappointed in the irresponsible and demonstrably false reporting by the NY Times," said Spears in a statement issued from Marshall. "We are exploring all legal options at this time. I will have no further comment, instead deferring to the University of Alabama's statement on the matter."
Spears' lawyer, Stephen New, also issued a forceful denial of The Times report in a statement to AL.com. New claims he can demonstrate Kai was not only not in the car, as alleged, but also not near the vicinity at the time in question.
Late Wednesday, Alabama was quick to dispute the report claiming Spears was on the scene. While current players Brandon Miller and Jaden Bradley were previously identified as present when the deadly shooting took place, the school said it does not believe Spears nor any other current athletes were there based on the information they have.
"Your story is inaccurate," Alabama said in a statement. "Based on the information we have, there were no current student-athletes present at the scene other than Brandon Miller and Jaden Bradley, who are both fully cooperating witnesses. From the outset, UA Athletics has fully cooperated with law enforcement and supported their investigation."
The New York Times reported Wednesday that the younger Spears was asked about being on the scene at the time of the shooting, to which he responded: "I'm sorry, I'm not going to be able to speak to that." Spears was available to the media Wednesday ahead of No. 1 seed Alabama's first-round game Thursday in the 2023 NCAA Tournament vs. No. 16 Texas A&M Corpus-Christi.
Miller, a First Team All-American for the No. 1 overall seed Crimson Tide, is accused of driving the gun used in the killing to the scene at the request of Miles. He does not face any charges and his attorney denies he saw or handled the gun. Bradley also does not face charges.