Why was Adrian Peterson cuffed? 'The answer is nothing,' attorney says
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Adrian Peterson will appear in court on Friday, nearly one week after he was arrested in a Houston nightclub for resisting arrest.
The attorney for the Minnesota Vikings running back, Rusty Hardin, was a guest of Tom Pelissero's on Wednesday night on 1500 ESPN.
Hardin is the prominent Texas-based attorney who was successful in his defense of Roger Clemens on charges that the former big-league pitcher lied to Congress when he claimed he never used performance-enhancing drugs.
On Wednesday night, Hardin took a few Houston police officers to task for how they treated Peterson and said his client is frustrated by the initial reports about the case.
Q. Four days after this entire thing started, what is your client's state of mind as this heads toward an initial hearing on Friday?
A. "He knows nothing is going to happen on Friday. It will just be an arraignment where the judge makes sure he understands the charges, has an attorney, etc. But his frame of mind is, he's still obviously upset and concerned that anybody might believe what he knows are totally false charges. He never touched, pushed or shoved any police officer and the more we investigated, the more we're absolutely convinced that not only should the charges not have been filed, but he just didn't do any of these things that sort of initially came out when the incident was reported."
Q. Is he more upset with the way he was treated, or with the way it was reported and the fact things unraveled on him in a 48-hour period before he really could respond?
A. "I don't think he's upset with the people who reported it, it's not a media-upset type thing. It all looks like the media in this thing reported what others were saying who purported to be there. But he's very upset about the bar (The Live, at Bayou Place Nightclub). This manager (Daniel Maher), if he said what TMZ said, it's just totally false.
"The guy didn't even see anything until after the arrest. Adrian was certainly not bothering any other patrons. We talked to numerous people there. He wasn't doing anything wrong or anything obnoxious. ... This guy just made up out of a whole cloth, a total version (for) TMZ.
"Here's the interesting thing now that you guys run into all the time. The social media makes it almost impossible, if you're the accused person of anything, whether it's a crime, or just embarrassing behavior or anything, to get out in front of a story. Once that thing hits the wires, it goes everywhere like a wildfire, and you spend all your time trying to catch up.
"If you want to try to respond responsibly, you really get screwed. For instance, my policy and our firm's policy, is that we don't go out and talk to the media about things until we've looked into it because we know it's not to our advantage, or the client's advantage, to be initially saying things publicly that later turn out not to be true.
"Well here's the problem with today's world. If you do that and you wait one or two days like we did before you make an announcement, before you respond, in order to be comfortable you're right, everything has been repeated. It's really not anybody's fault. That's the problem and so that's frustrating.
"(Peterson) is frustrated about that. But at the end of the day, he recognizes this will get taken care of in court one way or the other. Either this case will be dismissed or there will be a trial and so he knows that. He's just frustrated that something like this went out over the wires, to no one's fault, and it's totally contrary to the way he's conducted himself ever since he's been up there with you folks and ever since he was in high school and college."
Q. What exactly happened in that nightclub early Saturday morning from Peterson's perspective?
A. "I'm not going to go into all the details and tell you everything because I think I owe it to the prosecutors, who we are going to meet with on Friday, just to initially give them some ideas. But roughly, he and two other male friends and somebody who was driving them arrived at this club toward the tail end of the evening and they got there probably about 1:20 or so. 1:25.
"This club in Houston, for people to understand, is one of five clubs under the same roof. It's in the major downtown area, it's not off in some seedy area or anything. It's right there in the entertainment and the symphony area, the play district area. It's called Bayou Place.
"So they got there and they were meeting some people they knew at the end of the evening. Then, for whatever reason, an officer who overreacted ... when the lights go on and it's time to leave, the officer must not think people are leaving quite quickly enough. Adrian hadn't done anything, hadn't had any encounter with anyone, nothing unpleasant had happened, wasn't misbehaving or anything.
"But apparently a police officer thought people weren't leaving as quickly as they could and in response to some words, I don't know yet what all was said, he all of a sudden jumps Adrian and when he does jump Adrian, a couple of others pile in and one guy actually pops him about two or three times right above the eye. Everybody is unanimous that Adrian never did anything to resist. Never pushed a guy, never shoved anybody, never did anything physical."
Q. How many witnesses do you have to corroborate that version of the events?
A. "So far about four or five. It had nothing to do with Adrian's group and have nothing to do with the police. When this thing is investigated by the DA's office and anybody else in the police department, they are just going to find out that the initial story is just totally false."
Q. We saw a video from TMZ that shows Peterson in custody, but does a surveillance video that shows what led up to this incident exist?
A. "No, we heard that there was a surveillance video, but we're now told that there's not an official surveillance video inside the place. So the best we can tell, the only thing you're going to have are these kind of convoluted things you saw on TMZ where it's impossible to tell anything. The TMZ (video), when I just relooked at it again today, that's after he's under arrest and handcuffed so it doesn't tell you anything about how it started."
Q. One theory is that if Peterson forcibly refused to leave the bar in terms of what he possibly could have been arrested for, since all he's charged with is resisting arrest, is the offense would fall under the category of criminal trespassing. But the one video released by TMZ clearly shows dozens of people in the bar, so I don't know that argument could possibly hold any water.
A. "You're right both legally and factually. At the end of the day, the hardest thing that anybody is going to have to explain is, 'What in the hell was the guy being arrested for?' And the answer is, 'nothing.' Unless there were some words or something between him and an officer that the officer didn't like, that's not the basis for an arrest.
"So I think what happens at the end of the day, one or two officers, not a whole department -- I've been a long-time supporter of the Houston Police Department and we're not about to be condemning a whole department - but one or two officers overreacted and when they did they clearly mistreated the guy in a way they never should have done. Then to cover the back of their lap, or their rear end in more sophisticated parts of the country, they decided to file charges. All the charges are is an attempt to cover up their overreacting and screwing up."
Q. Your son Thomas is an officer with the Houston Police Department so you must have some sensitivity or understanding to how the majority of officers conduct themselves on a regular basis?
A. "Absolutely, and actually I used to teach at the police academy here for like seven or eight years and I was a prosecutor for over 15. We've had a very good relationship with the Houston Police Department and I'm a big supporter of them. It isn't an attempt to condemn law enforcement, it isn't an attempt to condemn the Houston Police Department.
"One or two officers overreacted and acted in a way they shouldn't. Well, there's 5,000 police officers. There are a bunch of lawyers out there that act in a way the public wouldn't like. This doesn't have to do with police officers per se, but in this particular incident Adrian did not act in a way differently than you folks have seen him up there.
"It's interesting, I get calls from the newspaper in the little town he grew up in and everything, because everybody that knows this guy knows that this behavior that's alleged is totally inconsistent with the way he acts. I think we get it all resolved ultimately. I just don't know whether it's going to require a trial or not."
Q. Have you ever seen someone charged with only resisting arrest and nothing else?
A. "Yeah. What happens is they do that is because the way the law is in Texas even if it's a bad arrest, with a couple of exceptions, you still don't have the right to resist. So the theory is you can't allow citizens to fight with police because they just don't think they are being righteously arrested. There are a lot of people who should be arrested who don't think they should be. If you start letting them fight with the police to settle it, it will never work.
"So the idea is (that) those issues have to be decided at the courthouse. But, as a practical matter, if an officer is going to file resisting arrest (charges), he needs to have had a legitimate basis to have put his hands on this guy or woman and start the whole process. That's where this fails. There was no reason in the world for these officers to have ever touched or tried to arrest Adrian. But more importantly, there's not going to be a single witness, other than a couple of these officers that we're disagreeing with, that's going to come in and say that Adrian pushed, shoved or in any way physically resisted."
Q. Does the case boil down to whether he did or did not shove someone?
A. "You bet. Absolutely. That's the only justification they are giving and it's going to turn out nobody is going to believe that he did."
Q. You said that Peterson saw a doctor. The only thing evident in the booking photo was that maybe his right cheek was somewhat swollen. How would you describe his injuries?
A. "That's exactly what it is. No one is suggesting he had serious injuries. We wanted a doctor to look at it because it's around the orbital area. But there's no lasting damage there. Certainly nothing that's going to prevent him from being a nightmare for opposing teams again. My understanding is that he's recovered from his injuries and he's raring to go. His injuries (that he's recovering from having suffered last season) and not this particular event. ... There's certainly nothing about this incident that's going to get in the way of that.
"But you're right. That's the area, it's up near his eye, near the orbital area. What happened was a police officer popped him two or three times and there was just absolutely no reason for it."
Q. At what point does Peterson say that happened?
A. "It happens while he's down. There's witnesses who will say they saw the police officer strike him two to three times after he was down on the floor flat."
Q. So they took him down to the floor flat? Did that happen inside or outside the bar?
A. "That happened in the bar. Everything was in. He was actually walking out when this officer got mad for whatever reason and tried to headlock him and take him to the floor. They got him on the floor and then the popping in the place happened after he was down. At the end of the day, I think it's going to be pretty clear that that's exactly what happened. There's just no reason for it and there's not going to be any evidence that he resisted in anyway."
Q. Was Peterson intoxicated and is that relevant?
A. "It's not relevant. He had had drinks, so what the level of intoxication or whether he was intoxicated, I don't know at this stage. We'd have to talk to other people about that. The one thing we do know is (that) he wasn't doing anything physically to either a police officer or anyone that would justify an arrest.
"He certainly wasn't acting out with other patrons or doing anything wrong there. As to whether he had more drinks than he should or not, I don't know. I do know that they were there with somebody driving him and he wasn't driving a vehicle when he left or when he arrived. So, that's the big issue as far as I'm concerned. How much he had, I don't know. I just know he wasn't acting out under whatever it was."
Q. Will he be with you in court on Friday?
A. "He will."
Q. Will he be making any sort of statement at that time?
A. "We might have something to say briefly when we come out of the court room. ... He's a man of few words. He may have a real, real, very brief comment as we walk out but other than that nothing substantive will happen Friday."
Q. What is time timeline going forward with this case?
A. "The prosecutors have the discretion to dismiss the case at any time they think it's appropriate. That could be weeks, it could be months, it's just hard to tell. I think most of the courts here try to have these cases set for trial and for consideration within six months from the time the event occurs. The setting Friday will just be a pro-forma setting.
"We probably won't be there very long at all. Then he won't say anything in court, we'll leave and it will probably be reset two or three weeks later for us to talk to the prosecutors in between, for the prosecutors to look at it and see what they think. That kind of thing. My guess is it's probably about three weeks or a month away before we know what's going to happen. If they are going to decide it doesn't have the merit to go forward or whether it's going to be set for trial. And then it will be just a matter of matching up everybody's schedules."