Lawyer: Adrian Peterson a 'victim'

Updated: July 10, 2012, 11:52 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

High-powered attorney Rusty Hardin says Minnesota Vikings star Adrian Peterson was "the victim" in an early-morning incident involving off-duty law enforcement officers in Houston early Saturday morning.

Peterson was arrested and charged with resisting arrest. He was released from jail Saturday on a $1,000 bond. The charge is a misdemeanor, and Peterson is due in court on Friday, according to the Houston Chronicle.

Hardin He, in fact, was struck at least twice in the face for absolutely no legitimate reason, and when all the evidence is impartially reviewed, it will clearly show Adrian was the victim, not the aggressor.

-- Defense attorney Rusty Hardin
on Adrian Peterson

"Adrian Peterson did not resist arrest this past Saturday morning and any suggestion that he pushed, struck or shoved a Houston Police Officer is a total fabrication," Hardin, hired as Peterson's defense attorney, said in a statement Monday afternoon. "He, in fact, was struck at least twice in the face for absolutely no legitimate reason, and when all the evidence is impartially reviewed, it will clearly show Adrian was the victim, not the aggressor."

Hardin represented Roger Clemens in his recent perjury case. Clemens was charged with lying to Congress when he denied using performance-enhancing drugs. He was retried this year and found not guilty on all counts.

Hardin told ESPN's Josina Anderson that he doesn't expect anything substantial to happen at Friday's hearing and any decisions from the Houston District Attorney's office are likely "several weeks away."

Houston Police Department spokesperson Kese Smith said Peterson was at a downtown nightclub early Saturday morning when an off-duty Houston police officer working security asked Peterson and a group of people he was with to leave because the club had closed.

Smith said the man identified himself as a police officer. The officer left to tell other patrons to leave the club before returning to Peterson's group again to tell it to leave.

Smith said Peterson turned around and told the officer that he heard him the first time and pushed the officer in the shoulder, causing him to stumble. The officer told Peterson he was under arrest and to put his hands behind his back. Peterson began yelling, pulled away and "assumed an aggressive stance," so another off-duty officer came to help. Peterson continued to struggle with both, according to Smith.

The 27-year-old player finally was handcuffed with the help of a third off-duty officer, Smith said. Peterson complained of shortness of breath after he was taken to a Houston jail and was examined by Houston Fire Department personnel, who said he was OK.

Peterson has maintained his innocence, even taking to quoting Winston Churchill on Twitter.

"'A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on,' " Peterson wrote.

Hardin said Monday afternoon that his client should have never been charged.

"We have been investigating what happened since Saturday afternoon, and it is absolutely clear to me that the charges should not have been filed, and the Bayou Club owes Adrian an apology for having put out a totally false version of what happened," Hardin said. "Adrian Peterson does not act the way he has been described in the initial reports, and he did not act that way Saturday morning. He was only in that club for 30 to 40 minutes, was never objectionable to other patrons, and never physically resisted any police officer."

Hardin expanded on his statement to ESPN's Anderson, saying witnesses will back Peterson's side of the argument.

"There are going to be non-police witnesses that are going to be very credible that are going to say that he never pushed, shoved, or touched a police officer," Hardin said.

Peterson's father, Nelson, told the St. Paul Pioneer Press earlier Monday that his son sustained a black eye during the incident and said the first off-duty officer used "vulgar language" and was "disrespectful" when asking the running back to leave the area.

Nelson Peterson, who was not present at the time of the incident, also told the paper his son did not push any officer.

"Adrian is extremely upset about these false allegations," Hardin said. "These charges are totally at odds with the way he has conducted himself throughout his career, and he asks that his fans and the public at large reserve judgment until they hear all the facts. Adrian looks forward to his day in court."

Smith told ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert earlier Monday that Peterson would probably end up with a fine because the charge is a misdemeanor.

Peterson ran for 970 yards and 12 touchdowns last season before tearing the anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in his left knee on Dec. 24. The injury-shortened season broke a streak of four straight seasons with at least 1,200 yards rushing for the former Oklahoma standout.

Information from ESPN.com NFC North blogger Kevin Seifert and The Associated Press was used in this report.

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