Edawn Louis Coughman, 31, is a former NFL football player who was arrested on Thursday for allegedly destroying his Atlanta business and staging it to look like a hate crime.
Police said in a statement that Coughman was charged with false report of a crime, insurance fraud and concealing a license plate. “It appears as though Edawn conjured a premeditated plan to damage his own property, attempt to make it appear as a hate crime, file a claim with his insurance company, and sell off the undamaged appliances and electronics,”
Officers were responding to a call from a witness that reported they saw someone destroying Coughman’s business, Create & Bake Pizza and Coughman’s Creamery. The caller also reported that the vandals were driving a black car without a license plate.
When officers went into the business, they saw that booth cushions had been slashed, TVs had been ripped off the walls, and there were racially motivated graffiti painted all over the place. The graffiti included multiple swastikas and messages that read “MAGA” and “Monkey.”
“They also found broken mirrors, cut wires, and a damaged video surveillance system. The smell of spray paint was very fresh. When officers touched it, the paint appeared wet,” police said.
Police found Coughman nearby in a vehicle that matched the witness description with “several televisions in the bed of the truck and inside the cab,” which were “still attached to the brackets with damaged drywall.” They also found cans of black spray paint and a yellow crowbar in his vehicle.
According to police, Coughman told them he had called his insurance company earlier in the day after noticing the damage but did not report the incident to the authorities.
Coughman was released on bond Thursday and his attorney says he is looking forward to his day in court to prove his innocence.
“Coughman is presumed innocent like anyone else who is accused of a crime … don’t prejudge him without knowing all the facts,” Patterson said.
Police added in their statement that, “It appears as though Edawn conjured a premeditated plan to damage his own property, attempt to make it appear as a hate crime, file a claim with his insurance company, and sell off the undamaged appliances and electronics.”
Edawn Coughman is being compared to Jussie Smollett who allegedly staged a hate crime last year in Chicago.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. He Was Arrested in 2012 for Possessing a Loaded Gun
Coughman was arrested in May 2012 after Montreal police found a loaded handgun in his hotel room. A cleaning lady found the weapon while she was in his room at The Queen Elizabeth Hotel and called the police.
Coughman was in Montreal training as an offensive lineman for the Toronto Argonauts.
A SWAT team raided the room and found the gun stashed underneath the hotel mattress. Coughman was arrested and charged with possessing a loaded and restricted firearm without a permit. He was facing a mandatory minimum sentence of three years and a maximum sentence of ten years.
During the bail hearing, a tearful Coughman explained that he had purchased the gun legally in Atlanta and he was unaware of Canada’s strict gun laws.
“Being from a totally different background as far as carrying a firearm goes, yes, he was totally surprised,” lawyer Hugues Surprenant told reporters.
2. He Started His Professional Football Career in Canada
Edawn Coughman has been a journeyman throughout his entire football career. After graduating from Tri-Cities High School in East Point, Georgia then went to Dodge City Community College before transferring to Shaw University in North Carolina.
Coughman thrived at Shaw, winning several accolades including being named First Team All-CIAA honors in 2009 and 2010, winning CIAA Offensive Lineman of the Week three times, and being named to the 2010 HBUC Bowl.
He went undrafted but got a job as an offensive lineman on the Toronto Argonauts practice squad in 2011. He spent most of the year on the practice squad before landing a starting job late in the season. He was released after starting for 9 games following the handgun debacle in 2012.
After coming back to America, he had several short stints with multiple NFL teams including the Seattle Seahawks, Washington Redskins, Dallas Cowboys, Buffalo Bills, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He never started any games and mostly played on practice squads or as a backup throughout his entire career.
His last contract was with the Arizona Cardinals. He was signed in January 2016 before being released by the team in June.
3. He’s Been Arrested for Illegal Business Practices Before
Edawn Coughman co-owned the Kompass Rose Bar and Grill, formerly known as Anchor Bar, with his business partner and former Dallas Cowboy Uche Nwaneri in Lindbergh, Georgia. Nwaneri was arrested in 2016 and charged with selling liquor after hours and selling liquor without a license.
“They had a temp license, which expired, and even if they did have a current license, at 2:30am they would have to stop serving,” Lt. Ellis said at the time. Detectives seized 238 bottles of beer and 97 bottles of liquor.
This wasn’t the first time Coughman and Nwaneri had been arrested for illegal business operations. WSB-TV Atlanta reported that the two had received five city ordinance violations in under a year and that “during those arrests both men were in possession of cocaine.”
4. A Senator’s Sister Was Shot and Killed Outside of His Bar
There have been multiple shooting incidents outside of the Kompass Rose Grille/Anchor Bar throughout the years.
In May 2018, a 24-year-old woman was shot in the back by a scorned lover after he spotted her with another man. Luckily she was taken to the Grady Memorial Hospital where she survived her injuries.
On July 23 2016, Taylor Hayden, sister of Minnesota state Sen. Jeff Hayden, was caught in the crossfire of a drug deal gone bad outside of the bar and fatally shot. Hayden was in Atlanta for a friend’s birthday party.
Her killer was never found as witnesses of the crime refused to cooperate with Atlanta police.
Nwaneri and Coughman called her death “devastating,” at the time and started a GoFundMe to raise money for her funeral.
“In these times of devastating shootings,” Coughman told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution at the time, “it never occurred to us that such a tragedy would happen near our restaurant. People need to learn to settle disagreements without guns.”
5. He Owned Two Homes on a $44,000 Annual Salary
According to CTV News, During Coughman’s bail hearing for his handgun possession charge in 2012, Crown lawyers pointed out that he owned two homes, one in Toronto and one in Atlanta, and questioned how he could afford both on a $44,000 CFL annual salary. Coughman didn’t have an explanation.
It’s unknown how he makes his money since he never signed a major NFL contract but judging by his past arrests and posts on social media, he has a number of side hustles. In addition to his restaurants, he posted a message on Facebook in 2012 looking for new clients for an unknown business. “If you want to change your life style and make some good residual income in box me your number and i lab teach how to change your keys to your house car etc” he wrote, “Serious people check me out”