- Carson Brière has played for the Division I Mercyhurst Lakers since 2020
- Before coming to Mercyhurst, he was kicked out of the Division I team at Arizona State University.
- Mercyhurst, Erie Police Investigate Wheelchair Incident
Mercyhurst University has placed a male hockey player and two other student-athletes on temporary suspension from their teams as the school investigates an incident in which the hockey player pushed an empty wheelchair down a flight of stairs in a Erie bar Saturday.
The hockey player is Carson Briere, a junior, who apologized for the incident Wednesday with his father, Danny Briere, a former NHL player and now an NHL Philadelphia Flyers manager.
Mercyhurst’s athletics department announced the suspensions on social media Wednesday night, at the end of a day in which the video went viral and the Brieres released their statements.
The department did not name the three student-athletes, although Carson Brière publicly acknowledged his involvement in his statement. Mercyhurst did not specify the sports played by the other two student-athletes.
The video shows two other men with Brière during the filmed episode. Briere is seen briefly sitting in the wheelchair before pushing it down the stairs. One of the other men is seen touching the wheelchair before Briere pushes it. The video has no sound.
Mercyhurst Athletics said the suspensions will be in effect “pending the outcome of the investigation process”. Mercyhurst and Erie police launched investigations Wednesday.
“After conducting an initial investigation into the incidents depicted on social media, the Mercyhurst Athletic Department has determined that the three individuals in the video are student-athletes,” the department’s statement said. “We have placed all three on temporary suspensions from their athletic teams in accordance with school policy, pending the outcome of the investigation process.”
Earlier coverage of wheelchair incident and Mercyhurst hockey player
A Mercyhurst University men’s hockey player has apologized for an incident involving a wheelchair at an Erie bar on Saturday – an incident that has led Mercyhurst and Erie police to launch investigations.
An apology was also offered by the player’s father, a former NHL player who was named interim general manager of the league’s Philadelphia Flyers on Friday.
Mercyhurst and police began their investigations after a video of the incident went viral on social media early Tuesday morning. The video shows the hockey player pushing an empty wheelchair down a flight of stairs.
No charges had been filed Wednesday afternoon, and a Mercyhurst spokeswoman said the school’s investigation, related to student conduct, was ongoing.
Mercyhurst released a statement Wednesday afternoon acknowledging the apology, expressing solidarity with the person who used the wheelchair, but also noting that “people who make bad decisions” deserve chances to “redeem harmful actions.”
At Mercyhurst:Sophomore Carson Briere, son of an NHL player, gives Mercyhurst hockey team a boost
Mercyhurst junior hockey player Carson Briere, 23, said, “I am deeply sorry for my behavior on Saturday,” according to a statement released to media on Wednesday afternoon. “There is no excuse for my actions, and I will do whatever I can to make up for this serious lack of judgment.”
His father is Danny Brière, 45, who played in the NHL for 17 years, including six for the Flyers. He retired from playing in 2015.
“I was shocked to see Carson’s actions in the video shared on social media yesterday,” Danny Briere said in the statement. “They are inexcusable and completely against our family values of treating people with respect. Carson is truly sorry and accepts full responsibility for his behavior.”
Mercyhurst: Actions shown on video ‘make our hearts heavy’
Mercyhurst released a statement Wednesday morning saying it was investigating and released the second statement Wednesday afternoon, after the Brieres’ statements were released.
“Mercyhurst University has heard considerable outcry over student Carson Brière’s social media video showing him pushing an unoccupied wheelchair down a flight of stairs,” Mercyhurst said in the second statement. “Mr. Briere today released a statement taking responsibility for his actions and in doing so he acknowledged that his behavior reflected a ‘serious lack of judgment’ and that he was ‘deeply sorry’.
“The actions displayed in the video are heartbreaking and do not align with our Mercy belief in the inherent dignity of every person. We pray and stand in solidarity with the victim and all disabled people who rightly find that actions like the latter are deeply attack.
“Our tradition of mercy also reminds us that students and all people who make wrong choices deserve opportunities to learn, change behavior, and atone for wrongdoing.”
A woman had left her wheelchair to go to the toilet
Video shows a person – whom Mercyhurst earlier Wednesday only identified as a student-athlete and whom Carson Brière in his statement said was him – pushing a wheelchair down a flight of stairs Saturday night at Sullivan’s home on East Third streets and French.
No one was sitting in the wheelchair at the time, but it had been left at the top of the stairs by someone who was still at the bar and still needed it, according to information posted with the video and according to a Sullivan co-owner, Erie attorney Rick Filippi. The timestamp on the video shows the recording was made around 11:38 p.m. Saturday.
Sullivan’s was packed at the time of the incident after the city’s annual St. Patrick’s Day parade earlier Saturday, Filippi told the Erie Times-News. The video shows an upstairs room filled with people.
Filippi said a bar patron used the wheelchair upstairs but was helped downstairs to the bathroom and left the wheelchair at the top of the landing. The wheelchair was then pushed down the stairs, as seen in the video, Filippi said.
“We were obviously disgusted to see that,” Filippi said of what happened to the wheelchair.
He said the video came from a surveillance camera in the bar. Bar staff obtained the video and it ended up on social media, he said.
Filippi, a former Erie mayor, said he would cooperate with Erie police if officers contact him about the incident. A police officer was seen knocking on Sullivan’s door Wednesday morning, but no one was in the building at the time. Filippi said he learned on Tuesday that the video had been posted on Twitter.
The Erie Times-News was unable to contact the person who posted the video.
Mercyhurst launches investigation after ‘disturbing video’ goes viral
Mercyhurst said it also saw the video on Tuesday. In a statement posted to Twitter at 9:44 p.m. Tuesday, the university said:
“Late this afternoon, Mercyhurst University became aware of a disturbing video in which one of our student-athletes is seen pushing an unoccupied wheelchair down a flight of stairs at a local facility. Our Office of Student Conduct and the Department of Police and Public Safety are investigating.”
Mercyhurst linked the statement directly to the video, which was posted to Twitter at 3:04 a.m. Tuesday.
Danny Brière steps away as a player:‘Family first’ for retired NHL All-Star Brière
Erie Police Chief Dan Spizarny said Wednesday the department is aware of the video and recently filed a report regarding the incident. The matter is under investigation, Spizarny said.
Filippi said Sullivan undertook renovations to make the building more accessible. He said the incident with the wheelchair “brings even more light” to the need for improvements.
Briere had been let go from the Arizona State team
Carson Briere, whose hometown is Philadelphia, has run into trouble before because of his behavior.
He was kicked out of Arizona State University’s Division I hockey team in 2019 before coming to Mercyhurst in 2020 to play for the Division I Lakers.
Mercyhurst first recruited Brière while playing junior hockey for Johnstown of the North American Hockey League.
Briere instead went to Arizona State University to play hockey. He spent his freshman year at ASU and was fired from the Sun Devils team his sophomore year for violating undisclosed team rules.
Prior to his firing, Briere had learned he might not have a key role on the ASU team until his sophomore or freshman year, he said in a profile published in the Erie. Times-News in November 2021.
Brière left ASU and played junior hockey for the Trail Smoke Eaters in Trail, BC, Canada.
He then went to play at Mercyhurst.
“I didn’t take hockey seriously,” Brière said in the Times-News profile of his time in Arizona. “It was something that wasn’t going to work, and I wanted to find a place where I could play my style of hockey.”
Writer Tim Hahn contributed to this report.
Contact Ed Palattella at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @ETNpalattella.