a group of people standing around a car
A drunk driver crashed this SUV into the Red Shoe Island Bistro, 411 Petronia St, on June 19, 2024, Key West police said. JEAN THORNTON/contributed

A 23-year-old NFL player was arrested Wednesday night for DUI after Key West police said he crashed an SUV into the Red Shoe Island Bistro, 411 Petronia Street.

Lonnie Phelps Jr., a defensive end for the Cleveland Browns, was booked into the county jail on Stock Island, where he remained Thursday morning. His bond information was unclear.

No injuries were reported in the crash that happened at about 9:20 p.m. The restaurant was closed at the time, and the owners had planned to reopen Friday.

“It could’ve been really bad,” the restaurant posted on their Facebook page. “Angels were looking out for us all. We will reopen as soon as possible. Thanks for your support and patience.”

a room that has a bunch of tables and chairs in it
This screenshot from a video posted on Facebook by the Red Shoe Island Bistro shows damage done to the restaurant at 411 Petronia St. via FACEBOOK

After the black Hyundai SUV, with Florida plates, crashed into the building, Phelps and a woman got out of the vehicle and began arguing in the street, witnesses told police.

“He said it happened and asked what does he have to pay for,” the police report reads.

While talking to Phelps, police observed he had “glassy, watery blood-shot eyes, droopy eyelids and a strong odor of alcohol was coming from his breath. Phelps was slurring his words and leaning on the fence. Phelps turned around and placed his hands behind his back (without asked to do so), stumbled and almost fell over.” 

Officers described Phelps as uncooperative, talking over them and shouting at times. He agreed to the field sobriety exercises but when he wouldn’t follow through with instructions, police stopped the exercises and arrested him.

a mug shot of a man with dreadlocks
Lonnie Phelps Jr., 23, a Cleveland Browns defensive end, was arrested for DUI on June 19, 2024, after Key West police said he drove an SUV through a restaurant. MCSO photo

Phelps was very talkative on the ride to jail, police reported.

“Phelps talked about how thirsty he was, how he did not know what I was going to do to him because females are the worst, asked me not to kill him, asked me how long it takes to bail out, how long I was the detective and informed me I was Russian,” Officer Andrea Bernatova wrote in the report. “Phelps complained about the handcuffs and took his seatbelt off.”

At the jail, Phelps refused a breathalyzer test as police brought him to the breath test operator room.

“Phelps requested to go to the bathroom,” an officer wrote in the report. “I explained to Phelps again that he can use the bathroom after the breath test part is over and Phelps insisted, he had to go now. Phelps said, ‘I’m peeing, bro,’ and he did. Phelps urinated while seated on a chair in [BTO room.] When it was time for Phelps to provide the sample of his breath, he refused again.”

Phelps is due in court before Monroe County Judge Albert Kelley at 9 a.m. July 2.

Gwen Filosa
Gwen Filosa is The Keys Weekly’s Digital Editor, and has covered Key West news, culture and assorted oddities since she moved to the island in 2011. She was previously a reporter for the Miami Herald and WLRN public radio. Before moving to the Keys, Gwen was in New Orleans for a decade, covering criminal courts for The Times-Picayune. In 2006, the paper’s staff won the Pulitzer Prizes for breaking news and the Public Service Medal for their coverage of the Hurricane Katrina disaster. She remains a devout Saints fan. She has a side hustle as a standup comedian, and has been a regular at Comedy Key West since 2017. She is also an acclaimed dogsitter, professional Bingo caller and a dedicated Wilco fan.