The NFL’s letter to Ezekiel Elliott informing him of his six-game suspension documents “credible evidence” of three incidents in July 2016 in which Elliott’s used “physical force” on Tiffany Thompson to inflict injuries to eight different body parts.
The letter, obtained by the Daily News through a source, says on July 17, 2016, evidence shows Elliott “used physical force that caused injuries to Ms. Thompson’s arms, neck and shoulders.” On July 19, 2016, Elliott used physical force “that caused injuries to Ms. Thompson’s face, arms, wrist and hands.” And on July 21, 2016, Elliott used physical force “that caused injuries to Ms. Thompson’s face, neck, arms, knee and hips.”
“League investigators interviewed more than a dozen witnesses, including Ms. Thompson, and examined all available evidence, including photographic and digital evidence, thousands of text messages and other records of electronic communications,” the NFL’s missive explains. “In addition, two medical experts were consulted regarding identification, causation and aging of certain injuries to Ms. Thompson.”
The evidence was so convincing that all four of commissioner Roger Goodell’s advisors consulted in the case “individually were of the view that there is substantial and persuasive evidence supporting a finding that you engaged in physical violence against Ms. Thompson on multiple occasions during the week of July 16, 2016.”
Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott suspended six games
Goodell’s advisors were Mr. Peter Harvey, Esq., former attorney general of New Jersey; Kenneth Houston, a Pro Football Hall of Fame former player; Ms. Tonya Lovelace, CEO of the Women of Color Network, Inc.; and Ms. Mary Jo White, Esq., former U.S. Attorney and former chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission.
As a result of the investigation, Goodell suspended Elliott six regular season games without pay, subject to appeal, and directed Elliott “to engage a qualified professional, in consultation with the league and (Dallas Cowboys), to arrange a clinical evaluation.”
The NFL’s letter documenting his discipline under Article 24 of the collective bargaining agreement also reminded Elliott that he “must have no further adverse involvement with law enforcement, and must not commit any additional violations of league policies.”
“In that respect, you should understand that another violation of this nature may result in your suspension or potential banishment from the NFL,” the letter reads.
The letter, signed by NFL Special Counsel for Conduct Todd Jones, was sent to Elliott and his counsel and copied Goodell, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and Adolpho Birch, NFL senior VP labor policy and league affairs.
The NFL’s explanation of its findings and evidence in the July 19 incident provide a perfect example of why Goodell and his advisors reached the same conclusion.
The letter explains that Thompson’s injuries, incurred during an altercation at the Canvasback Lane apartment” in Columbus, Ohio, were “portrayed in photographs (6 series) confirmed by forensic analysis to have been taken by Ms. Thompson on the afternoon of July 21, 2016, and concurrently sent via text message to her mother.
“These injuries are also portrayed in the photographs taken by the Columbus Police Department on July 22, 2016 (7 series),” the letter continues. “A review of these photographs by both medical experts determined that the injuries displayed appear recent and consistent with Ms. Thompson’s description of the incident and how they occurred.”
The NFL notes “no arrest was made” after an investigation by the Columbus Police Department and allows that the Columbus City Attorney made “a decision not to pursue a criminal prosecution.” But on a conference call Friday, league officials clarified that Columbus police hadn’t had access to all of the cell phone metadata, which helped NFL investigators corroborate that photos were taken on the same days as alleged injuries.
The NFL admitted Friday that Thompson did lie about another July 22 incident “that did not happen,” according to Harvey. Thompson lied when she accused Elliott of yanking her out of a car and even asked a friend to lie for her and corroborate her story.
Still, Goodell and his advisors make clear in the league’s letter that “even allowing for concerns … advanced about the complaining witness’s credibility, “the photographic and medical forensic evidence corroborates many critical elements of the allegations regarding the causes of her injuries.”
The letter also notes that “the Columbus city prosecutor … has stated both publicly and to our investigator that after interviewing Ms. Thompson several times “(w)e never concluded that she was lying to us.’ He also said that, ‘we generally believed her for all of the incidents.”
The NFL’s letter says “there has been no persuasive evidence presented on (Elliott’s) behalf with respect to how Ms. Thompson’s obvious injuries were incurred other than conjecture based on the presence of some of her bruising which pre-dates your arrival in Columbus on July 16, 2016.
“It is also important to note that, while there may be conflicting testimonial evidence regarding the nature and substance of conversations, there is no dispute that (Elliott) and Ms. Thompson were together in the same location on the dates identified, and no evidence to suggest that anyone else could have caused these injuries,” the letter states.
The NFL’s investigation, meanwhile, also included review of a second incident on March 11, 2017. Elliott pulled down the shirt of a young woman, exposing and touching her breast, while watching a St. Patrick’s Day in Dallas, and a video of the incident was posted on social media.
Goodell determined that the St. Patrick’s Day incident would not be considered separately as basis for additional discipline under the policy “given the circumstances surrounding the incident.” But he still issued a reprimand:
“You should understand, however, that your behavior during this event was inappropriate and disturbing, and reflected a lack of respect for women. When viewed together with the July incidents, it suggests a pattern of poor judgment and behavior for which effective intervention is necessary for your personal and professional welfare.”
The league also said that “while there are some questions with respect to the completeness of (Elliott’s) cooperation with the investigation, the commissioner has not found a violation of the policy based on (his) lack of cooperation and no discipline will be imposed on that basis.”
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