Monday, February 28, 2011
Howard Bryant pleads not guilty
Howard Bryant, an ESPN.com senior writer and frequent panelist on "The Sports Reporters," was arrested on Saturday on charges including domestic assault and resisting arrest.
In Greenfield (Mass.) District Court on Monday, Bryant pleaded not guilty to domestic assault and battery, assault and battery on a police officer, and resisting arrest charges. At the hearing, the court released his $5,000 bail, which he had paid on Saturday, and Bryant was released on personal recognizance.
Massachusetts state police say Bryant, 42, was arrested in front of a pizza parlor Saturday in Buckland, a town of 2,500 in western Massachusetts.
Witnesses said they saw a man choking and pinning a woman against a parked car, according to police. A customer inside the Buckland Pizza House called police just after noon on Saturday. Police said they have five witness statements.
After stopping Bryant and his wife, police said Bryant refused to let a state trooper handcuff him and struck the state trooper in the chest with his elbow.
"He pulled away from the police officers when they were trying to handcuff him," State Trooper T.J. Tudryn told the Springfield Republican. "He was uncooperative and resistant." Tudryn told the newspaper it took three minutes to subdue Bryant.
Bryant; his wife, Veronique; and his lawyer all released statements on Monday.
"I am so sad today," Bryant said. "I am sad today because this attack on me by the Massachusetts State Police and the Buckland Police has made it necessary for me to defend untrue allegations and repair my reputation when one conversation with either Veronique or with me would have diffused the entire situation. Instead, the police chose aggression first over dialogue, threatened to taser me whenever I tried to speak, and all in front of my 6-year-old son.
"As a result, I have to defend a charge that I attacked both the woman I love and the police when nothing could be further from the truth."
"This is all so unfair," Veronique Bryant said. "There was no investigation. The police made assumptions about my husband that weren't true. I was never abused or in fear of Howard on that day or any other day. I wasn't running from him or trying to get away from him. The police weren't listening to me and they attacked him with violence with our 6-year-old watching."
"I believe that witnesses saw things through the lens of race and if it were a caucasian male they wouldn't have blinked at what they saw," said Bryant's lawyer, Buz Eisenberg. Bryant is black; his wife is white.
Bryant lives in Ashfield, which is about six miles south of Buckland.
"We are gathering information about it," said ESPN spokesman Josh Krulewitz.
Bryant joined ESPN in 2007 after a newspaper career that included stops at the Washington Post, Boston Herald, Bergen Record, San Jose Mercury News and Oakland Tribune. He has written three books, the most recent being "The Last Hero" about Hank Aaron. He also wrote "Juicing the Game: Drugs, Power and the Fight for the Soul of Major League Baseball" and "Shut Out: A Story of Race and Baseball in Boston."
Information from The Associated Press is included in this report.