On Monday, Pennsylvania police charged college hockey player Carson Briere, son of Philadelphia Flyers interim general manager Danny Briere, with three misdemeanor crimes after he was shown on video pushing a woman's empty wheelchair down a flight of stairs at a local bar on March 11.
The charges filed against Briere, 23, who is currently a junior at Mercyhurst College, include criminal mischief, criminal conspiracy to commit mischief, and disorderly conduct. Another person with Briere in the video, identified as Mercyhurst lacrosse player Patrick Carrozzi, was charged with the same misdemeanors, per the Associated Press. Both Briere and Carrozzi were suspended from their teams last week, according to the Mercyhurst athletics department. They are expected in court on May 22.
A security-footage video of the incident was posted to Twitter on March 14.
The wheelchair belonged to Sydney Benes, who identified herself on Twitter a day later.
Local news website Go Erie reported that Benes "had been using her wheelchair at a packed upstairs room at Sullivan's when she left it at the landing at the top of the stairs to use the bathroom downstairs." The bar's co-owner, Rick Filippi, said other people at the bar had helped her downstairs. Go Erie reported that Benes went to the Erie police on March 13 to file a report for damage to her year-old wheelchair, amounting to $2,000:
"The actions of the defendants caused the left brake handle to not function properly, the plastic molding on the right arm rest to break, the rear handle is slightly bent and the wheels are experiencing drag when moving forward," according to the complaints.
The Brieres apologized in a joint statement released by the Flyers on March 15.
In an interview with local news station Your Erie, Benes talked about losing her legs following a car accident in 2021, learning to use prosthetics, and how she felt when she saw her wheelchair at the bottom of the stairs while she was out with her friends.
“All that was going through my head was ‘Man I hope this was an accident, I hope that this wasn’t on purpose,'” Benes said.
She added that a bar employee tried to address the incident: "The head security guard had went and saw the one kid and the hockey player and made him come apologize to me, which wasn’t very sincere."
A GoFundMe page launched to help raise money to repair Benes's wheelchair has raised $8,811.