Charlotte, NC – Three days after Carolina Panther Ian Thomas signed a $16.95 million contract extension he was hit with five misdemeanor charges in connection with an attempt to evade police on a dirt bike last summer.
The incident occurred at about 9:30 p.m. on July 12, 2021 near a Walmart and other businesses in Huntersville, The Athletic reported.
A Huntersville police officer spotted Thomas driving a 2017 Honda dirt bike, along with a friend on a red ATV, and neither of the vehicles had a license plate.
The police report said the officer tried to pull them over, according to The Athletic.
The police officer said that at first, Thomas and the other driver appeared to slow down but then they both sped up and drove into an oncoming lane of traffic.
Court records showed that the driver of the ATV fled the scene and was not apprehended, but Thomas stopped about a mile and a half from his home, The Athletic reported.
He was arrested and booked on five charges, including reckless driving and felony fleeing to elude.
Prosecutors later reduced the felony charge to a misdemeanor, according to Thomas’ attorney George Laughrun.
Mecklenburg County court records showed that Thomas is next scheduled to appear in court on the charges on Aug. 29, WCNC reported.
The Carolina Panthers said they were aware of the incident but would not comment on it, according to ESPN.
The team also said it had notified the National Football League (NFL) when the arrest happened, The Athletic reported.
This is not the first time the Panthers’ tight end has been in trouble with the law.
Thomas was stopped for going 91 mph in a 65 mph zone in 2020.
That charge was dismissed but Thomas was convicted of reckless driving in connection with the incident, according to The Athletic.
Thomas has made $5.1 million in salary so far in his NFL career.
He signed a three-year, $16.95 million contract extension with the Panthers on Feb. 25, WCNC reported.
Thomas has had 18 receptions for 188 yards in 2021 and has 90 catches for 802 yards with four touchdowns in his NFL career.
He was a fourth-round draft pick of the Panthers after playing college football at Indiana.