Wendell Brown, who played in the Canadian Football League with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and for Austria’s Swarco Raiders, is a free man after spending three years in a prison in China for a bar altercation.
Brown boarded a flight to his hometown of Detroit Tuesday.
A Chinese court had sentenced Brown to four years in prison in June 2018 for being involved in a bar fight, a punishment his lawyer and an activist called excessive. Late last year, the court reduced his sentence by one year.
As American Football International has reported earlier, the former Winnipeg Blue Bomberand Swarco Raider (Austria) has been languishing in jail in China since September 2016 after getting into an altercation with a few Chinese locals in a bar in Chongqing, China.
Brown, 32,who was helping coach the Chongqing Dockers of the American Football League of China, had apparently been out with some friends when, according to witnesses, he was provoked by a group of locals who were upset that Brown would not party with them. One of the men escalated the incident by throwing a glass bottle at Brown, who retaliated out of self-defense. The local police were contacted following the altercation, and allegedly only arrested Brown. He has been in jail ever since.
After playing for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the Canadian Football League and the Swarco Raiders in Austria. Brown went to China in 2015 to play for the Dockers and now was helping to coach them. He played his high school football at Martin Luther King High School in Detroit,where he was an all-state player at linebacker in 2004. He went on to play at Ball State, where he received bachelor’s degree.
Since his incarceration in September of 2016, he has been allowed very little communication with the outside world other than with his mother and his attorneys in China.
A family friend, Dan Redford, told the Detroit News that Brown had been released:
“He has been released and is currently on a flight from Chongqing to LA,” Redford said. “He is a free man.”
Redford said Brown is “ready to be home” after a tough few years.
“He’s spoken with his mom on FaceTime and he all smiles before meeting her in LA,” Redford said. “We’ve only been able to send written letters.”
Brown and his mother, Antoinette Brown, are expected to arrive at Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport early Wednesday.
“This marks the third year of his imprisonment. Last year, the verdict came down that he was guilty, which we expected because they don’t typically find people not guilty in China. The extra two-year sentence was devastating for his family, but through our efforts, he was able to get a sentence reduction.”
Similar disputes are often settled out-of-court in China — where the conviction rate is 99% — but Brown did not reach a settlement with the plaintiff and pleaded not guilty, the Associated Press reported at the time.