COLUMBIA — Just a few months ago, Missouri basketball players Zach Price and Earnest Ross were such close friends that Ross would leave his dog — a labrador and coonhound mix named Sady — at Price's apartment when Missouri played road games.
Price couldn't travel with the team on the road because of transfer rules, but on nights before home games, the friends would eat crab legs together for dinner.
Fast forward to April 2, when Ross filed a restraining order against Price.
In the restraining order, which the Missourian received a copy of on Wednesday, Ross alleges that Price attempted to cause Ross physical harm, stalked Ross, harassed Ross and followed Ross from place to place on April 2 — one day before Price was arrested twice for assault.
The 6-foot-5, 228-pound Ross wrote that Price "tried to run me off the road" with his vehicle, and that "all I want is to feel safe."
"Everybody involved is very surprised that this is happening," Patrick Eng, Price's lawyer, told the Missourian on Wednesday night. "I think it boils down to a big misunderstanding between two good friends."
Eng declined to elaborate on that misunderstanding.
"It'll play out and I think it'll blow out to be nothing quite frankly, but we'll see," Eng said. "I'm hopeful that that is the case, but it’s up to the prosecutor who has this under review and they will make that judgement."
Price's first arrest on April 3 was in the early morning, for an alleged assault against a 23-year-old male, according to the Columbia Police Department. Price was accused of punching the male in the face and pushing a female companion to the ground in the area of Heather Lane and Ash Street.
He was arrested again around 3 p.m. on suspicion of second-degree domestic assault and second-degree assault in connection with an incident that occurred in the afternoon of April 2. Both are Class C felonies (the third most severe out of four types in Missouri).
Eng told the Missourian that Price is not currently charged with any criminal charges.
"When someone gets arrested, normally they're charged right away. Most of the time, they're charged right away," Eng said. "In his case, when I got involved, I assumed he was already charged, but it turns out he is not charged."
Ross, 23, provides details of an incident in his petition for the protective order.
"He (Price) has tried to harm me and my girlfriend in my vehicle, tried to run me off the road several times," Ross wrote in the order. "I feel threatened by this activity and violated. He endangered my life and not only me but others around me. All I want is to be safe."
Ross wrote that the violent incident between him and Price occurred near Rock Bridge Elementary.
Although previous police reports have said that Price was arrested for assaulting a roommate, Ross' protective order says the two "never resided together." When asked to describe his relationship with Price, Ross wrote that they "were good friends."
"There's a good explanation on that, I'm not going to comment further," Eng said, when asked about the discrepancy in the two's living situation.
In another section of the order, Ross is asked to describe the nature of Price's abuse or stalking.
"Wreckless (sic) driving near car, hit my car a few times, was following me and trying to steer me off the road," Ross wrote. "Tried to harm me and put me in danger. He performed illegal traffic violations in order to harm me and my vehicle. Followed me while I was going to police station. My girlfriend was also in the vehicle."
The order demands that Price not come within 100 feet of Ross and not communicate with Ross in any manner or through any medium. The restraining order went into effect immediately after Ross's paperwork was filed in the 13th Circuit Court at 4:04 p.m. on April 2. Price will have a chance to tell his side of the story to a judge when the case is heard at 9 a.m. on April 16 in the circuit court.
The case is notable not only because Ross and Price were so close just a short while ago, but also because an overwhelming number of restraining orders are filed between men and women, according to Boone County Sheriff Department detective Tom O'Sullivan.
"I've been a cop for 26 years and I don't recall many times when a man got one against another man," O'Sullivan said.
The 6-foot-10, 250-pound Price sat out this season after transferring from Louisville. He did not return a phone call requesting comment.
Missouri coach Frank Haith suspended Price immediately following last week's arrests. It's unclear whether Price will play for the Tigers next season.
Supervising editor is Mark Selig.