A law enforcement official says he sent a video of Ray Rice punching his then-fiancee Janay Palmer to an NFL executive five months ago.
This is a sharp contradiction to league executives’ story that they didn’t see the violent images until this week when they were released by TMZ Sports.
The person played The Associated Press a 12-second voicemail from an NFL office number on April 9 confirming the video arrived. A female voice expresses thanks and says: “You’re right. It’s terrible.”
The law enforcement official, speaking to the AP on condition of anonymity because of the ongoing investigation, says he had no further communication with any NFL employee and can’t confirm anyone watched the video. The person said he was unauthorized to release the video but shared it unsolicited, because he wanted the NFL to have it before deciding on Rice’s punishment.
The NFL has repeatedly said it asked for but could not obtain the video of Rice hitting Janay Palmer — who is now his wife — at an Atlantic City casino in February.
The league says it has no record of the video, and no one in the league office had seen it until it was released by TMZ Monday. When asked about the voicemail Wednesday, NFL officials repeated their assertion that no league official had seen the video before Monday. “We have no knowledge of this,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said Wednesday. “We are not aware of anyone in our office who possessed or saw the video before it was made public on Monday. We will look into it.”
The law enforcement official said he sent a DVD copy of footage captured by the Revel Hotel’s security camera of the incident to an NFL office and included his contact information. The Associated Press has not released the name of the executive for fear that the information would identify the law enforcement official as the source.
Rice was originally suspended for two games following the Feb. 15 incident, but the Ravens released him on Monday and the league indefinitely suspended him after TMZ Sports released the video. In a memo released on Wednesday, Goodell said that the league asked law enforcement for the video, but not the casino.
“We assumed that there was a video. We asked for video. But we were never granted that opportunity,” Goodell said. “In the context of a criminal investigation, information obtained outside of law enforcement that has not been tested by prosecutors or by the court system is not necessarily a reliable basis for imposing league discipline,” he wrote.
Rice had been charged with felony aggravated assault in the case, but was accepted into a pre-trail intervention program that allowed him to avoid jail time.
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