Aaron Donald never assaulted the man who alleged he severely beat him, the Los Angeles Rams star’s lawyer claimed Friday morning.
Casey White, the attorney Donald hired to represent him, made his first public comments in an interview with Pittsburgh radio station 93.7 The Fan. White told the station that DeVincent Spriggs instigated last weekend’s confrontation and that Donald went from being restrained by friends to actually coming to Spriggs’ rescue.
“He goes to the pile where this melee is taking place and he starts tearing people off, protecting Mr. Spriggs,” White said. “He actually saves Mr. Spriggs from further injury.”
The incident in question took place at an after-hours club on the South Side of Pittsburgh in the early morning hours of April 11. Spriggs’ attorney, Todd Hollis, told Yahoo Sports on Wednesday that his client sustained an array of injuries including a concussion, a broken nose and eye socket, and a cut near his right eye that required 16 stitches.
Attorneys on both sides agree that the incident began when Spriggs bumped into Donald, but their stories diverge from there. White alleged that Spriggs was yelling at Donald, that Spriggs was escorted out of the party and that he was still lingering outside when the Rams star walked out about 10 minutes later.
“Mr. Spriggs starts walking toward Aaron and he’s yelling, he’s drunk and he’s aggressive,” White said. “Aaron sees something in his right hand. At first he thinks it’s a gun. And Aaron, at this point, is like, ‘Oh my.’ But it’s actually a bottle — a long liquor bottle.”
According to White, Spriggs then swung the bottle at Donald. The Rams star ducked but the bottle grazed the top of his head, White said.
Asked about the Donald incident Wednesday, Pittsburgh police confirmed a criminal complaint had been filed. Police first spoke to the complainant at a Pittsburgh hospital shortly before 1 p.m. on Sunday. During that conversation, police said the complainant admitted to “throwing a bottle of alcohol.”
A portion of leaked surveillance footage appears to show Donald being restrained by friends and then later trying to break up the melee. White said he has “five corroborating witnesses at this point, and more that are coming out of the woodwork.”
“There’s no dispute that Mr. Spriggs is injured, but the other people who were there that night were responsible for protecting Mr. Donald and in turn caused the injuries to Mr. Spriggs,” White said. “He does get punched. He does get slammed. He does get kicked in the head. It’s violent, but the whole time Aaron is being restrained.”
The way Spriggs’ attorney described the incident Wednesday, it was Donald and his friends who were the aggressors. Hollis said that Spriggs attempted to walk away but that Donald and his friends attacked him. It's unclear from the leaked surveillance video how the altercation begins.
“Mr. Spriggs is a relatively big man,” Hollis said. “Had it been a smaller man, he could have been killed.”
It will be up to the Pittsburgh police to sift through the video evidence and witness testimony to determine what happened and whether assault charges are warranted.
A public information officer with the Pittsburgh police told Yahoo Sports on Friday that the department is “still reviewing all available video.” She described the investigation as “ongoing” and said Pittsburgh police have “no new updates to share at this time.”
Donald, a Pittsburgh native and a former college star at Pitt, is a three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year who has made the Pro Bowl in each of his seven NFL seasons. The Rams released a statement Wednesday saying they are aware of the reports regarding Donald.
"We are collecting more information and will have no further comment at this time," the Rams statement said.
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