Jonathan Dwyer, Cardinals Running Back, Punched and Head-Butted Wife, Cops Say

Arizona Cardinals running back Jonathan Dwyer was arrested yesterday on felony and misdemeanor assault charges for a pair of domestic-violence incidents.

Court documents released this morning detail the altercations between Dwyer and his wife at their Phoenix apartment in July.

According to the documents, Dwyer, 25, head-butted his wife during an argument on July 22, breaking her nose. The next day, police allege, Dwyer "punched his wife on the left side of her face with his right closed fist."

See also: -Daryl Washington, Arizona Cardinals Linebacker, Pleads Guilty to Aggravated Assault

A statement from the Cardinals says Dwyer has been deactivated:

We became aware of these allegations this afternoon when notified by Phoenix police and are cooperating fully.

Given the serious nature of the allegations we have taken the immediate step to deactivate Jonathan from all team activities.

We will continue to closely monitor this as it develops and evaluate additional information as it becomes available.

According to a police probable-cause statement, the first incident started around 8 a.m. on July 21, when Dwyer "attempted to kiss [his wife] and remove her clothing. The statement continues:
The victim told the defendant several times to "stop." When he continued, she bit the defendant's lip. This was done to get away from him and stop his advances. After the victim bit the defendant's lip, he head-butted her in the face, which she later learned had caused a nasal bone fracture as a result of the head butt.
A neighbor called police and reported hearing loud arguing. Dwyer's wife told police it was just her and her son in the apartment, and she was arguing loudly on the phone with a family member.

The incident wasn't reported to police until September 11, and Dwyer's wife said she didn't immediately tell police what happened because Dwyer threatened to kill himself if she told police what had happened. Even later, after Dwyer's wife took her son and left the apartment, Dwyer texted her a picture of a knife and "stated that he did not want to live anymore," the court documents state.

However, Dwyer's wife returned to the apartment the following evening, when an argument turned physical when Dwyer punched his wife in the face, according to the documents. He also threw a shoe that struck his 17-month-old son in the stomach and punched holes in the walls of the apartment. The child was not injured, according to the documents.

When Dwyer's wife said she was calling the police, Dwyer tossed her cell phone to the ground from the second floor, which witnesses reported seeing.

"Witnesses observed the victim holding her face and the toddler child . . . witnesses also saw swelling and discoloration to the left side of her face," according to the probable-cause statement.

A neighbor helped Dwyer's wife pack her things and leave the state with her son. She reported the incident to Phoenix police a couple weeks later, on September 11, after she told police she "felt safe."

According to Phoenix police, Dwyer "admitted to the incidents involving his wife" but denied physically assaulting her.

Phoenix Police Sergeant Trent Crump says during the six days between the report being made and Dwyer's arrest, detectives sought out-of-state medical records and conducted interviews with witnesses.

Dwyer was arrested Wednesday in Tempe and booked into jail on two felony charges and four misdemeanor charges. He was released from jail this morning on $25,000 bond and has curfew restrictions. The conditions of his release state that he is allowed to leave his house for employment purposes, although the Cardinals since have deactivated Dwyer.

Dwyer's arrest is certain to attract national attention, as NFL teams and the league office have struggled with their reactions to high-profile domestic-violence arrests of the Baltimore Ravens' Ray Rice (who's since been released by the team), the Carolina Panthers' Greg Hardy, and the San Francisco 49ers' Ray McDonald. Additionally, Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson was arrested on child-abuse charges.

This is also the second recent domestic-violence-related arrest of a Cardinals player, as linebacker Daryl Washington was arrested in May 2013 on charges related to choking and breaking the collarbone of his child's mother. Washington pleaded guilty to a charge of aggravated assault earlier this year, but has not faced discipline from the NFL because he's already suspended for the year for violating the league's substance-abuse policy.

The court documents released this morning in the Dwyer case can be found below:

Dwyer is the number-two running back on the Cardinals' depth chart, behind Andre Ellington. Dwyer has accumulated 51 yards on 16 carries this year, including one carry for a touchdown. He's also caught two passes for 8 yards.

This is Dwyer's fifth season in the NFL. He spent the first four with the Pittsburgh Steelers, after being drafted in the sixth round of the 2010 NFL draft. According to multiple websites, Dwyer's free-agent contract with the Cardinals is a one-year, $795,000 deal.

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Matthew Hendley
Contact: Matthew Hendley