Isaac Bakar awoke early one Sunday morning last month to find a man yanking on the front door of his North Miami Beach home.
Not just any man: A 6-foot-6, 311-pound NFL defensive lineman named Desmond Bryant.
Intoxicated and incoherent, Bryant was arrested for criminal mischief for allegedly trying to break down the door to Bakar’s house, police records show.
While Bryant’s arrest was embarrassing — his slack-jawed mug shot from the Feb. 24 incident has already attained Internet infamy — it didn’t prevent Bryant from receiving a five-year, $34 million contract with the Cleveland Browns last week.
Now Bryant is facing a lawsuit from Bakar and his family, who say they were “terrified” by Bryant when he tried to bull his way into their house — even pulling off one of the door handles as Bakar tried to hold the door closed. Their lawyer said they are receiving psychological counseling.
“They were scared,” said the family’s attorney, Robert Fiore, who filed the lawsuit Monday in Miami-Dade circuit court. “My client was holding on for dear life.”
Bakar, his wife and his three children were awakened around 5:30 a.m. on Feb. 24 by the sounds of banging on their front door. When Bakar looked through a window pane in the door, he saw the hulking, shirtless Bryant come charging at the door again, the lawsuit says.
Fearing a home-invasion robbery from the muscled intruder, Bakar — a 43-year-old, 5-foot-11, 170-pound paving contractor — tried to hold the door shut against Bryant while his wife called police. Bryant was still yelling and banging on the door when officers arrived, the police report says.
Police described Bryant as “extremely intoxicated” after a night of drinking at a South Beach nightclub. Bryant arrived at the Bakars’ house after taking a cab from South Beach; he thought he had arrived at his own home — though Bryant lives in a condo in Aventura, the police report says.
The mug shot of a heavy-eyed, thick-tongued Bryant soon went viral on the Internet and became fodder for late-night comedian Jimmy Kimmel.
“If I were Desmond Bryant I would intentionally get arrested again just so I could re-do the mug shot,” Kimmel joked.
Initial reports described the incident as a “commotion” at a neighbor’s home. But Fiore said Bakar did not know Bryant, and they are not neighbors.
Bryant, 27, previously played for the Oakland Raiders before signing with the Browns last week. He attended Harvard University before going to the NFL.
Calls to Bryant’s agent were not returned. But Bryant did talk about the incident with Cleveland reporters after signing with the team.
“I obviously made a mistake,” Bryant said, according to The Plain Dealer of Cleveland. “I apologize for everything that happened. I feel like I have learned from it and I have moved on from that.”
But Fiore says his clients have not moved on.
“We allege that Mr. Bryant made more than a simple, inconsequential mistake,” Fiore said, “and that Mr. Bryant’s conduct has significant legal consequences.”