PHOENIX — Arizona Cardinals running back Jonathan Dwyer head-butted his wife and broke her nose after she refused his sexual advances, and punched her in the face the next day, police said Thursday.
The details surfaced in a law enforcement report a day after Dwyer was arrested on aggravated assault charges and deactivated from all team activities after he was taken into custody at the Cardinals’ headquarters in Tempe. He spent a night in jail and made a brief court appearance before being released on a $25,000 bond early Thursday.
The arrest came at a time when the NFL and its commissioner are under fire over a series of violent off-the-field encounters involving some marquee players, including Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson and Greg Hardy.
The NFL has said the Dwyer case will be reviewed under the league’s personal-conduct policy.
On Thursday, the Cardinals placed Dwyer on the reserve/non-football illness list. A person with knowledge of the situation said Dwyer was undergoing mental evaluation because of mentions of suicide referred to in police documents. The person asked to remain anonymous because the team had not made the reason for the illness designation public. Because of the designation, Dwyer can’t play for the Cardinals again this season.
Dwyer was arrested Wednesday for investigation in two altercations that occurred on July 21 and 22 at his Phoenix residence, just days before the Cardinals reported to training camp. His wife left the state after the incidents, but came forward a week ago after Dwyer apparently sent suicidal text messages including a photo of a knife.
In the first encounter, police say Dwyer attempted to kiss and undress his wife, but she refused. Someone who heard the argument called police, who showed up at the apartment but did not make an arrest. Dwyer hid in a bathroom and the wife said she hadn’t been assaulted and denied he was in the home because the running back threatened to kill himself in front of her and their child if she told police about the assault, police said.
The next day, Dwyer punched his wife in the face, according to police. He also punched walls and threw a shoe at his 17-month-old son, who was not injured, police said.
As his wife tried to call police, Dwyer grabbed her cellphone and threw it down from the home’s second story. Witnesses told police that Dwyer’s wife said, “I’m calling the police” as she held her swollen face and clutched her son.
During his police interview Wednesday, Dwyer acknowledged hiding in the bathroom when police responded to the first argument and sending a photo of a knife with suicidal threats. Dwyer denied committing an assault, though he acknowledged that he punched walls in his home, threw a phone and that his wife bit his lip during the disputes, according to the police report.
Dwyer was swarmed by TV cameras as he walked out of a downtown Phoenix jail early Thursday. He declined to answer many questions posed by reporters, but said he never hurt his son and responded when asked whether he would play football again.
“I will,” he said as he stepped into a taxi.
Dwyer’s agent, Adisa Bakari, didn’t return telephone messages seeking comment. Messages left for Jared Allen, an attorney representing Dwyer, weren’t immediately returned Thursday.
Dwyer is scheduled for a status conference Wednesday and a Sept. 26 preliminary hearing.
Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said that if Dwyer is convicted, he will never play for the team again. If he’s exonerated, the team would welcome him back. Arians called domestic violence a worldwide problem.
“If this bad scar on the NFL, as you want to say, right now makes the rest of the world aware of what’s going on, it’s damn good,” Arians said.
The NFL has been jolted by domestic violence issues since a video surfaced that showed former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice knocking out his then-fiancee in an Atlantic City, New Jersey, elevator.
Then Minnesota Vikings star running back Adrian Peterson was indicted on felony child-abuse charges for using a tree branch, or “switch,” to discipline his 4-year-old son.
On Wednesday, the Carolina Panthers decided that star defensive end Greg Hardy won’t play any more games for the team until his domestic violence case is resolved. Hardy was convicted of assault on a female and communicating threats. Hardy is appealing.
The Dwyer arrest adds to the pressure on NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, whose handling of the Rice case has been widely criticized.
Rice was originally suspended for two games, then banned indefinitely after the video surfaced of his attack in the casino elevator.
This is the second domestic violence case involving a Cardinals player. Inside linebacker Daryl Washington pleaded guilty to assaulting his ex-girlfriend and is serving a year of supervised probation. Washington hasn’t been penalized by the NFL for the offense but is suspended for this season for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy.
Also Thursday, the Cardinals released running back Chris Rainey from the practice squad. Arians said Rainey’s history of domestic violence wasn’t a factor in that decision.
Rainey, a fifth-round pick out of Florida in 2011, was cut by the Steelers as a rookie after he was accused of slapping his girlfriend. He later pleaded no contest to disorderly conduct.
Dwyer was booked on counts that include aggravated assault causing a fracture and involving a minor, criminal damage, and preventing the use of a phone in an emergency.
Dwyer signed a one-year, $730,000 contract, including a $65,000 bonus, with the Cardinals this year and was their second-string running back after spending the last four seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers.