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’ practice facility and 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 of the league’s marquee players, including Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson and Greg Hardy.
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The NFL has said the Dwyer case will be reviewed under the league’s personal-conduct policy.
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 reported the assault to 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 with a closed fist on the left side of her 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 on 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 late Thursday morning.
During Dwyer’s initial court appearance Wednesday night, Allen asked that Dwyer be allowed to leave the state for his job, but a court commissioner denied that request after prosecutor Jay Rademacher said the Cardinals had deactivated Dwyer.
As a deactivated player, Dwyer retains his roster spot and continues to be paid. Dwyer had signed a one-year, $730,000 contract, including a $65,000 bonus, with the Cardinals.
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 after the victim said the 6-foot-4, 275-pound player threw her in the bathtub and onto a sofa covered with guns before threatening to kill her. Hardy is appealing the ruling.
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.
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 with the Cardinals this year and was their second-string running back after spending the last four seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers. He scored a touchdown last week in Arizona’s victory over the New York Giants.
His best year for Pittsburgh was 2012 when injuries depleted the team’s backfield in the middle of the season. Dwyer filled in and had 100-yard-plus games in consecutive weeks.
Dwyer, from Marietta, Georgia, was a sixth-round draft pick of the Steelers out of Georgia Tech in 2010.