Malik McDowell, a 6-foot-6-inch NFL football player who was spotted wandering completely naked in Deerfield Beach, is now being sued by a sheriff’s deputy he’s accused of beating, court records show.

Deputy Nicholas Novello has filed a lawsuit against McDowell, 25, the football player who has pleaded not guilty to charges of harming an officer and exposing himself during the encounter in January.

It’s unusual for officers to sue the people they arrest, because officers know the dangers that come with their jobs, said University of Florida legal expert Kenneth Nunn.

“It doesn’t happen every day, but it does happen,” Nunn said of officers suing. “In all my years, I’ve never heard of that happening.”

McDowell, who was a defensive tackle for the Cleveland Browns, is now considered a free agent for the NFL. His one-year contract with the Browns was not renewed when it expired in March.

Court records didn’t show a defense attorney listed for McDowell in the lawsuit, so it was unclear on Monday if McDowell had retained a civil attorney.

In his complaint, Novello said McDowell attacked him while McDowell was trying to flee from other deputies. He wrote in his complaint that McDowell ran straight into him and “landed several devastating punches upon the head and body.”

Novello’s lawsuit doesn’t detail the extent of the injuries. Novello wrote in his suit that he faces medical expenses and the loss of income. He is seeking a jury trial for a claim that will in excess of $100,000, according to court records.

The lawsuit papers were served at McDowell’s home in Farmington Hills, Michigan, in April, according to court records.

In January, a Broward sheriff’s spokeswoman said it took “at least six deputies and Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue personnel” to assist with the arrest. A deputy used a Taser to place McDowell in handcuffs. McDowell’s next court date for the criminal charges in Broward court is June 10.

Novello was promoted to sergeant in 2019, according to an agency announcement at the time. Novello’s attorney, Matt Chiapperini, declined to comment Monday, only saying: “This is an unusual case, an unusual set of circumstances.”

Lisa J. Huriash can be reached at [email protected] or 954-572-2008 or Twitter @LisaHuriash


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