Briere was temporarily suspended from the Mercyhurst Lakers hockey team shortly after security footage of him was released. push an unoccupied wheelchair up a stair at a bar in Erie, Pennsylvania, went viral.
Two weeks ago, Erie County filed charges against Briere and Patrick Carrozzi, another Mercyhurst athlete, for the stunt after the wheelchair’s owner filed a complaint listing extensive damage to his chair.
On Monday night, the Mercyhurst Athletics announced that Briere “has been removed” from the university’s hockey team.
“Mercyhurst is unable to comment further on this matter,” the statement concluded.
This trail of consequences for Briere began on March 11, when a surveillance camera caught him walking to the entrance of a dance floor at Sullivan’s Pub in Erie with three other people before taking a seat in an empty wheelchair. The footage shows Briere trying to maneuver before getting up and pushing the chair down the stairs. The wheelchair tips over and the seat cushion comes off during descent.
Pictures of the incident were posted on Twitter on March 14 by an employee of Sullivan’s Pub, who said she knows the owner of the wheelchair and “just can’t bear the thought of this kid getting away with it.”
The next day, Briere and two other Mercyhurst athletes who were with him that night were provisionally suspended.
The small university of around 3,000 students added that Briere’s actions failed to respect “the inherent dignity of every person” and the university stands on its feet.”in solidarity with the victim and all people with disabilities who legitimately find actions like this to be deeply offensive.”
A week later, Briere and Carrozzi were charged with criminal conduct and conspiracy to commit criminal conduct, both misdemeanors, as well as disorderly conduct, a summary offense.
Police say his actions posed a potential danger to anyone going up the stairs, while also creating a dangerous condition by blocking the stairs.
The wheelchair’s owner, Sydney Benes, 22, filed a complaint after the incident, listing all the ways her chair had been damaged. Benes is a double amputee who lost a foot and a leg in a fire after her car crashed in 2021. In order to get around, she said, she needs the chair while she learns how to use her prosthesis.
Benes wrote in the complaint that the chair’s fall down the stairs damaged the left brake handle, broke plastic molding on the right armrest, bent a rear handle and caused the wheels to drag as they moved forward. He added that the wheelchair was purchased a year ago for US$2,000.
Both Briere and his father Daniel apologized for the incident via the Philadelphia Flyers, where Daniel serves as interim general manager, shortly after the incriminating video was posted on Twitter.
Briere wrote: “I deeply regret my behavior on Saturday. There is no excuse for my actions, and I will do everything I can to make up for this gross lack of judgment.”
Daniel Briere, who was one of the best players in the NHL during his 17 years in the league, said he was shocked to see his son’s actions on video.
“They are inexcusable and go completely against our family values of treating people with respect,” he said. “Carson is very sorry and accepts full responsibility for his behavior.”
Carson Briere was previously fired from the Arizona State hockey club in 2019 for what the school called a violation of team rules, the Associated Press reported.
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Employees at Sullivan’s Pub, where the incident occurred, organized a GoFundMe Page to help Benes raise money to replace his wheelchair.
Campaign organizer Nathaniel Sanders wrote that Benes’s chair was left alone in the stairwell that night because she was using the bathroom at the bottom of the stairs. Sullivan’s Pub was built before accessible design requirements were enacted, so he “personally, physically carries her up the stairs every time he has to use the bathroom.”
The initial goal of US$1,500 has been far exceeded, with the amount raised sitting at just under US$9,000 at press time. Benes wrote on Twitter that she is looking to donate the extra money and thanked the staff at Sullivan’s Pub for getting her through this ordeal.
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