A former Eastern Kentucky University football player has pleaded guilty to amended charges in a shoplifting incident that injured an innocent bystander.

Davin Walker, 22, pleaded guilty Thursday in Madison Circuit Court to second-degree assault and first-degree fleeing and evading police.

The commonwealth recommended a sentence of five years for the charges.

Walker originally was charged July 3 with first-degree robbery and second-degree fleeing and evading police after an incident at the Richmond Wal-Mart in which he attempted to steal cell phone components and feminine hygiene products.

Cpl. Jake Adkins of the Richmond Police Department said Walker was seen on Wal-Mart store surveillance tapes putting items into a backpack.

When he was confronted by store employees — one a manager and the other a representative of loss prevention — it appeared on the video that he lunged straight toward one of the men, knocking him down, Adkins said.

An elderly woman who was nearby was injured in the altercation, said Sgt. Willard Reardon, RPD public information officer.

Adkins said the woman was walking into the store with a shopping cart when the incident happened.

“A physical altercation ensued, and a shopping cart overturned, tearing the tip off of a 69-year-old female customer’s thumb,” Reardon said.

The woman’s thumb was not completely severed and she received stitches.

During his run from the store, Walker lost the backpack and his shoes. Police said inside the backpack were a cell phone battery charger, a box of douches and a bottle of feminine hygiene spray.

He was arrested near Roy Kidd Stadium.

During his hearing Thursday before Judge Julia Hilton Adams, Walker told the judge that he did not have enough money for the items he needed from Wal-Mart, so he took them.

He said when he was confronted by store employees, he panicked and ran, accidentally colliding with the elderly woman.

Walker’s attorney, Michael Eubanks, had long been arguing for a reduction in the charges against the former EKU player.

“In this case, we have a theft,” Eubanks said previously. “At the time of (the physical confrontation with the woman), the shoplifting already had occurred. What we have is shoplifting and an assault.”

Eubanks said Walker did not have a weapon, therefore it should not be considered first-degree robbery.

“There’s no evidence that Mr. Walker was trying to cause her any harm,” Eubanks said. “He didn’t say: ‘I’m going to hurt you if you don’t give me the battery charger.’”

If Walker had been found guilty of first-degree robbery, he could have received up to 20 years in prison. Robbery first-degree is considered a violent offense in Kentucky, which means 85 percent of the sentence must be served before parole is possible.

“Under the best circumstances, you were looking at a minimum of 17 years,” Adams told Walker.

Walker’s sentencing hearing was set for Jan. 8 at 1:30 p.m. Adams said she would take the commonwealth’s sentence recommendation under advisement.

Walker was a senior wide receiver from Miami, Fla., according to EKU spokesperson Marc Whitt. He had been enrolled as a student at EKU for the spring 2008 semester.

In July, he was suspended indefinitely from the team by the EKU Department of Athletics.

Walker played in 11 games last season as a running back, receiver and kick returner. The 5-foot-10, 162-pound player was a Second-Team All-OVC selection in 2006 as a returner, and ranked 11th in the nation for kick-return average.

Lorie Love can be reached at llove@richmondregister.com or 624-6690.

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