49ers’ McDonald will not be charged by DA
Updated: November 10, 2014, 12:40 PM ET
By Tim Keown | ESPN.com
SAN JOSE, Calif. — The Santa Clara District Attorney’s office, citing insufficient evidence, will not file domestic abuse charges against 49ers defensive end Ray McDonald, it was announced Monday.
“Conflicting versions of the event, a lack of verifiable eyewitnesses and a significant lack of cooperation from Jane Doe, we cannot prove a crime occurred,” said Lindsay Walsh, Santa Clara Deputy District Attorney in charge of the case. “In this particular case, there were particular pieces of information missing.”
Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty ImagesRay McDonald was arrested on felony domestic violence charges less than three days after the NFL announced revisions to its personal conduct policy.
McDonald was arrested on Aug. 31 on suspicion of felony domestic abuse following an incident that occurred at his San Jose home. A police report noted “visible injuries” to an alleged victim, who was not identified by police but is believed to be McDonald’s fiancée. McDonald posted $ 25,000 bail and was released from police custody several hours after the arrest.
Walsh said McDonald was cooperative with officers on the night of the incident and gave a follow-up interview later.
“I am confident in our decision,” Walsh said. “We really don’t know what happened between the two parties.”
A portion of the 911 call, made by an unidentified caller, was leaked following McDonald’s arrest. “Her fiancé was hitting her,” the caller said. “He was trying to pull her out of the house. She’s 10 weeks pregnant and refusing medical.”
Walsh said McDonald’s fiancée admitted McDonald struck her and was restraining her. The incident took place at a party for McDonald’s 30th birthday that was attended by several 49ers players, including tight end Vernon Davis, who told reporters he didn’t see anything.
McDonald has spent the entirety of his eight-year NFL career with the 49ers. He was drafted in the third round in 2007 after being part of a BCS championship team at Florida.
The McDonald case has brought scrutiny to the 49ers’ organization, which has had 10 player arrests — the most in the league — since 2012. With domestic violence cases among NFL players among the defining stories of the season, the 49ers — from owner Jed York to GM Trent Baalke to coach Jim Harbaugh — repeatedly insisted on allowing “due process” to play out before taking any action against McDonald. He has played in every one of the 49ers’ games since the incident as other players around the league — Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson and Jonathan Dwyer among them — have been suspended or released for arrests related to domestic violence.
The San Jose Police became embroiled in its own controversy when the San Jose Mercury News reported that the department’s investigation had been complicated by the fact an officer who had provided private security to the team was present at the house when other officers arrived to investigate the allegations. It was reported by KGO-TV in San Francisco that McDonald placed a personal call to Sgt. Sean Pritchard, who was on duty and in uniform at the time of the call. In response, the San Jose Police Department suspended its officers from working private security for the 49ers.
San Jose Police took a month to forward its investigation to the Santa Clara District Attorney’s office. On Oct. 9, the DA’s office received the results of the police investigation, and the next day the Mercury News reported the details of the officer’s presence at the home.
The birthday-party incident was the second time San Jose police had been called to McDonald’s home after a report of a domestic dispute. On May 25, according to the police report, officers responded to an alleged incident of a woman grabbing a man’s gun. Police did not identify either person by name, but multiple reports indicated the subjects were McDonald and his fiancée.
The issue of domestic violence among NFL players came to the forefront after TMZ posted video of Rice striking his girlfriend, and now wife, in the elevator of an Atlantic City casino. Rice was originally given a two-game suspension by commissioner Roger Goodell, who later responded to the media and public firestorm by suspending Rice indefinitely. Rice has appealed, and a decision from Judge Barbara Jones is expected before Thanksgiving.
It has been more than two months since Goodell commissioned former FBI director Robert Mueller to investigate the Rice video and the league’s handling of the matter.