USC linebacker Rey Maualuga was arrested early Tuesday morning and booked on suspicion of misdemeanor battery after allegedly punching a man during a party near campus, a Los Angeles Police Department spokesman said.
Maualuga, a freshman who is regarded as a future star, was booked at the LAPD's Southwest Division station. He was released on $20,000 bail, said Kevin Maiberger, a public information officer for the LAPD. Maualuga is scheduled to appear in court Nov. 22.
Maualuga, 18, was demoted to the service team Tuesday, and Coach Pete Carroll said he would wait until he had all the facts before deciding what further action, if any, he would take.
"We're aware of it, and when we get more information we'll head forward with what we get," Carroll said. "As always, we're going to do our stuff in-house as we have in the past."
Maualuga declined to comment.
The incident involving Maualuga allegedly occurred about 1:10 a.m. outside a house in the 1100 block of West 29th Street, according to police.
A witness, who did not speak to police, said Maualuga appeared intoxicated and was one of several Trojan players in attendance.
The witness said that the 6-foot-2, 245-pound Maualuga was among a group of about five people standing outside the house when Maualuga noticed a man standing with two women about 10 feet away.
After Maualuga and the man exchanged words, Maualuga walked toward the man and women and, unprovoked, punched the man in the face, the witness said. The man's head hit the side of the house, and Maualuga punched the man in the face again as he slumped, bloodied, to the ground.
When a woman said she was going to call the police, the witness said Maualuga responded: "I own the police," before fleeing the scene on foot.
Police arrived about 10 minutes later.
The alleged victim refused an ambulance but filed a citizen's arrest report, Maiberger said.
Maualuga turned himself in at the Southwest Division and was booked at 4 a.m., LAPD spokesman Jason Lee said. He was released after posting bond.
The alleged incident involving Maualuga is the second in eight months involving a freshman linebacker at USC.
In March, Brian Cushing allegedly punched a man at a party he attended with quarterback Mark Sanchez in Orange County. Sgt. Mike Gavin of the Orange County Sheriff's Department said Tuesday that no arrests were made in what would have been a misdemeanor case because the alleged victim refused to file charges.
Maualuga, from Eureka, Calif., has made 13 tackles in seven games while playing on special teams and as a backup to starter Oscar Lua.
Last week, Carroll said Maualuga did not attend a practice because he was visiting his ill father. On Saturday against Washington State, Maualuga delivered a big hit on a kick return.
"Whenever something comes up, we're always concerned and it's always important to address the issue and get to the facts of it and understand what happened," Carroll said. "I'm very concerned about Rey, in general, because there's some very serious family things going on and all that.
"I just want to make sure we do a good job of helping him understand what's going on, what this all means. I don't know anything more than that."