The Boston Celtics’ Jabari Bird was accused of choking, kicking and dragging his girlfriend in an hours-long assault at his apartment last week. In an arraignment at Brighton (Mass.) Municipal Court, prosecutors charged the second-year player with multiple counts of assault and battery, as well as of kidnapping and strangulation.
Bird, who pleaded not guilty, was released on $50,000 bail, and he is set to appear in court again Oct. 25, nine days after Boston tips off its regular season. Saying in a statement that its “thoughts are with the victim of this incident,” the team declared that it “deplores domestic violence of any kind” and is “deeply disturbed by the allegations” against the shooting guard.
In a four-hour episode that Bird’s girlfriend said began with “trust issues,” prosecutors claimed (via the Boston Herald) that Bird “began strangling her using one of his hands and also threw her against a wall.” After that, they said, he “began strangling her with two hands, approximately a dozen times.”
Bird was accused of choking the 20-year-old woman until she “went limp,” then resuming his attacks when she regained her breath. She was said to have lost consciousness at one point, only to awaken on the floor under his bed, at which point, when she “she stuck her head out,” he “began to kick her multiple times” with bare feet.
Bird, 24, was also accused of dragging his girlfriend by the ankles when she tried to leave his apartment. The woman told investigators that she hid in Bird’s bathroom but came out later when he started to experience “seizure-like” symptoms and fell. She said she moved him to his bed, where he fell asleep, and was able to escape.
A college student in Boston, the woman said she then went back to her dorm room, where she told a friend what had happened. They went to a hospital and police interviewed her there, noting cuts and bruises on her face and neck as well as internal bleeding behind her ear.
An attorney for Bird did not dispute the specific allegations at the hearing, but he told the judge that there are “always two sides to every story.” The attorney added that his client “understands the seriousness of the allegations” and is “remorseful to find himself in this position.”
“I’m taking some time away from the team as I deal with my legal and medical issues,” Bird said in a statement. “I apologize to my family, the Celtics organization, my teammates, the fans and the NBA for the unnecessary distraction that I have caused. The information that has been released does not tell the full story. I do not condone violence against women. I am hopeful that in due time and process, I will be able to regain everyone’s trust.”
Before the arraignment, Bird had been in custody in a hospital, where he received a psychological evaluation. His girlfriend reportedly told police that, after she left his apartment, he texted her, saying he would kill himself if she did not return.
The Celtics said in their statement that, per the NBA’s policy on domestic violence, “matters of this kind” are handled by the league. The team said it “will be working with both the league and local authorities to assist in their ongoing investigations.”
A 2017 second-round pick out of the University of California, Bird recently signed a two-year contract with the Celtics after appearing in 13 games in his rookie season while also playing in the G-League. Only the first year of the contract is guaranteed, and it could be voided, depending on how Bird’s case plays out.
Bird was ordered to not have any contact with the alleged victim or any witnesses, and he must stay away from her college. If convicted on certain charges, Bird could face up to 10 years in prison.
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