Actor Wendell Pierce declines Rutgers-Newark graduation speech after arrest

Actor Wendell Pierce declines Rutgers-Newark graduation speech after he was arrested.

Actor Wendell Pierce declines Rutgers-Newark graduation speech after he was arrested. (5/16/16)

NEWARK - Actor Wendell Pierce has decided not to attend and speak at a graduation ceremony in New Jersey following his arrest in Atlanta.

Rutgers University-Newark announced Monday that Pierce did not want to create a distraction. TV news anchor Soledad O'Brien will speak at Wednesday's commencement instead.

Atlanta Police Department spokesman Donald Hannah says in a statement that Pierce was arrested Saturday at the Loews Atlanta Hotel. Jail records show he was arrested on a charge of simple battery and released on $1,000 bond. 

According to Atlanta police, Pierce reportedly became upset by a conversation about politics, then followed a group of people to their hotel room, tried to get inside and hit a woman in the head.

Pierce told police that he was standing outside the hotel room when the woman and two of her friends tried to pull him inside.

Hannah says Pierce never indicated he was well-known and his arrest was treated like any other arrest.

Pierce is known for his television roles as Detective William "Bunk" Moreland on "The Wire" and Antoine Batiste on "Treme."

The Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.

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