Cal linebacker Joseph Ogunbanjo arrested, released from football team

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Joseph Ogunbanjo, a UC Berkeley sophomore and former outside linebacker on the Cal football team, was arrested early Sunday morning, according to Berkeley Police Department, or BPD, spokesperson Officer Byron White. 

Ogunbanjo was arrested on suspicion of carjacking, threatening violence on a police officer, attempting to remove an officer’s weapon and battery on a police officer, White said in an email. 

As of about 6 p.m. Monday, Ogunbanjo has been removed from the Cal football program, according to a statement from Cal Athletics spokesperson Herb Benenson. As of press time, Ogunbanjo has been taken off of the Cal football digital roster, and his statistics and biography page have also been removed from the website. 

“We are aware of an incident involving Joseph Ogunbanjo, and the details as described by the Berkeley Police Department are troubling,” Benenson said in his statement. “While he is no longer a member of our football program, we remain concerned for his well-being.”

White wrote in his email that a man allegedly flagged down an officer who was driving down Gayley Road before asking the officer “about his handgun and whether or not he could drive the vehicle,” according to the email. 

The man, identified by White as Ogunbanjo, allegedly opened the driver’s side door and attacked the officer, prompting the officer to exit the vehicle and order Ogunbanjo to sit on the ground, the email said. White said in his email that a struggle followed as Ogunbanjo allegedly approached the officer and grabbed him — he also alleged that while the officer attempted to handcuff Ogunbanjo and call for emergency cover, Ogunbanjo reached for the officer’s handgun.

“The man continued his attack—demanding that the officer give him his handgun,” White alleged in his email. “At one point during the encounter, the man elbowed the officer in the head—knocking the officer off-balance.  That’s when the man got in the driver’s seat of the police vehicle.”

According to White, with the assistance of other officers, Ogunbanjo was removed from the vehicle and restrained. According to the City of Berkeley Open Data booking log, Ogunbanjo was booked into Berkeley City Jail at 5:28 a.m. on Sunday, and Berkeleyside reported that Ogunbanjo was moved to a hospital as of about 2 p.m. Monday.

Ogunbanjo is an intended engineering major, and has played off the bench for the Bears for the last two seasons, featuring in 11 games. He recovered a fumble in the Bears’ 24-17 loss to Arizona State in September, but was suspended “indefinitely” roughly a month later for unspecified reasons, according to Cal football head coach Justin Wilcox during an Oct. 21 post-practice interview.

This arrest comes amid Ogunbanjo’s return to the team for Cal’s season-ending win at UCLA, where he recorded one tackle. 

Jasper Kenzo Sundeen is the sports editor. Contact him at [email protected].