Monday, April 27, 2009
Jayson Williams in hospital
NEW YORK -- Former NBA star Jayson Williams was zapped with a stun gun by police in his swank hotel suite Monday after the reportedly suicidal athlete resisted attempts by officers to take him to a hospital.
Police were called to the hotel in lower Manhattan's Battery Park City neighborhood around 4 a.m. when a female friend reported that the former New Jersey Nets player, who was convicted in 2004 of trying to cover up a shooting at his home and whose wife recently filed for divorce, was acting suicidal.
When officers arrived, the 6-foot-10, 325-pound Williams appeared drunk and agitated, police said. There were empty bottles of prescription drugs strewn around his disheveled hotel suite and several suicide notes.
Officers with the Emergency Services Unit, an elite team trained to deal with emotionally disturbed people, responded and stunned Williams with a Taser after he resisted attempts to be hospitalized.
A spokeswoman for Williams, Judy Smith, had no immediate comment Monday. A telephone call to his attorney Joseph Hayden was not immediately returned.
Williams' friend and manager told the New York Daily News outside the hospital that the athlete was on the mend.
"Jayson is doing fine. He said he was fine," Akhtar Farzaie told the newspaper. "All of us are here to be by his side as friends."
It's the latest in a series of public troubles for the 41-year-old former All-Star, who played nine seasons with the Nets and Philadelphia 76ers before retiring in 2000.
Williams, who had a $68 million contract with the Nets, was convicted of trying to cover up the 2002 shooting death of his driver Costas "Gus" Christofi at his mansion in Alexandria Township, N.J.
Prosecutors said Williams was giving friends and Christofi a tour of his estate. While in the master bedroom, he took a 12-gauge shotgun from a case and snapped it closed, according to testimony. The gun fired once, ripping a hole in the chest of Christofi, who died within minutes.
Williams then wiped down the weapon and placed it in the wounded 55-year-old man's hands, stripped off his own clothes, handed them to a friend and jumped into his pool, according to testimony. The Williams defense maintained that the shooting was an accident and that he panicked afterward.
He was acquitted of aggravated manslaughter, but the jury deadlocked on a reckless-manslaughter count. A retrial is pending, and he has been free on bail since the shooting. He's apologized to Christofi's relatives and given them $2.5 million to settle a civil suit.
Williams could be sentenced to several years in prison on the cover-up conviction, but a judge ruled he wouldn't be sentenced until after the retrial.
Williams' wife filed divorce papers this year claiming he was abusive and adulterous and had a drug problem. Proceedings continue.
New Orleans Hornets head coach Byron Scott, who played against Williams in the 1990s and got to know him after taking over as Nets coach in 2000, called Williams "a terrific young man" and "a very intense competitor."
"I feel for him and the family," he said, "and all I can do right now is pray for him."
Williams graduated from New York City's Christ the King High School, one of the country's biggest producers of college and pro basketball stars.
He was a first-round pick in the 1990 NBA draft and went on to become a valuable Nets star. He was named an All-Star and ranked second in the NBA for the 1997-98 season with 13 rebounds per game and a league-high 443 offensive rebounds.
An injury forced career-ending surgery in 2000.