49ers' Brooks facing possible felony assault charge
Ahmad Brooks recorded 6.5 sacks and an interception for the 49ers last year. (USA TODAY IMAGES)
Ahmad Brooks will not face criminal charges stemming from an alleged assault of 49ers teammate Lamar Divens due to insufficient evidence, the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office announced Thursday.
Brooks, a starting outside linebacker, could still be subject to the possibility of discipline from NFL commissioner Roger Goodell under the league's personal conduct policy. The league as a matter of policy reviews such cases.
"The 49ers organization is aware that the District Attorney of Santa Clara County has closed this matter," the 49ers said in a statement. "As an organization, we look forward to moving on from this situation and will have no further comment."
Assistant DA Karyn Sinunu-Towery concluded in a memo to DA Jeffrey F. Rosen that the matter was a deemed a reject "due to insufficiency of evidence by the Office Issuing Team upon initial review and consultation with the investigating police officer." Sinunu-Towery stated that a felony complaint and warrant request was created in error early this month before a full investigation had taken place.
The memo indicated that Brooks and Divens had previously gotten into a physical altercation in May. The two men were drinking and "talking smack" to each other, as well as wrestling and "shadow-boxing." Divens pushed Brooks, which caused him to fall down and sustain a 2-inch cut to his leg, according to the memo. The police were not called about that incident.
Brooks, 29, and Divens, 27, were at a teammates's house drinking on the evening of June 8 and playing pool when they decided to go to a downtown San Jose bar, according to investigation. Divens drove Brooks back to his house. When they arrived back at Brooks' house, Brooks asked for the keys to his truck. Divens pretended to throw the keys in the grass before handing them to him. Divens alleged in a statement to investigators that Brooks hit him over the head with a beer bottle three times and punched him in the face. Divens sustained a cut on his forehead of more than 2 inches, which required stitches.
In the memo released Thursday, Sinunu-Towery reported that on June 10, Divens asked Brooks for $1 million to settle the issue. Brooks rejected that request. On June 11, Divens told law enforcement he was trying to "work out the issue internally." Two days later, he told an investigator he did not want to go forward with with the case, saying it would be bad for both of their football careers. Divens also reiterated to the DA's office that he wanted Brooks to pay him $1 million, according to the memo.
"As you well know, I do not condone the behavior of Brooks on June 8, 2013," Sinunu-Towery wrote in the memo. "However, based on the law as applied to the above facts discovered in this investigation, I will dismiss the felony complaint, which was filed prematurely. The totality of the circumstances demonstrates that the charge cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt to twelve jurors."
Rosen agreed with Sinunu-Towery's conclusion.
"Cases are not always what they first appear," Rosen wrote. "The value to a thorough and deliberate investigation is a more complete picture of the facts. We cannot prosecute this case because we cannot prove the crime beyond a reasonable doubt to 12 jurors. To file criminal charges when we do not believe we will obtain a conviction is wrong."
Divens, a 340-pound nose tackle, joined the 49ers' practice squad on December 26 after the Houston Texans released him from their practice squad in October. He has also spent time with San Diego, Baltimore, Tampa Bay and Tennessee.
On Feb. 7, the 49ers signed Divens to spot on the team's 90-man offseason roster. He is viewed as a long shot to win a spot on the team's 53-man roster.
Brooks was kicked off the Virginia football team at the end of the 2005 season, forcing him to declared for the 2006 NFL supplemental draft. He entered the league with the Cincinnati Bengals. In 2008 while playing for the Bengals, he was accused of punching a woman in the face and accepted mediation on the charges.
Brooks has flourished in his five seasons with the 49ers, and had not been involved in any reported off-field incidents. After recording seven sacks in his first season as a starter in 2011, Brooks signed a six-year, $40.4 million contract that included a $7.5 million signing bonus.
Brooks was named second-team All-Pro last season and he made several key plays in the 49ers' NFC Championship victory over the Atlanta Falcons. He recorded 6.5 sacks, but as part of a "de-escalator" his scheduled $4.3 million base salary for 2013 was lowered to $2.7 million for the upcoming season.
He spent the entire offseason rehabilitating his shoulder after undergoing surgery after the season. Brooks was regularly seen in the 49ers' weight room working out, including during the mid-June minicamp after the alleged incident with Divens.