Former Ravens defensive lineman Justin Bannan facing up to 50 years in prison for shooting woman in 2019

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Kevin Oestreicher
·4 min read
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The Baltimore Ravens signed defensive lineman Justin Bannan in 2006 after he spent the first four years of his NFL career with the Buffalo Bills. He played for four years in Baltimore, accumulating 125 tackles and three sacks. Bannan’s football career ended in 2013 after 12 years, but his post-football life quickly became muddied.

A detailed story from Tom Schad of USA TODAY Sports outlines just how messy Bannan’s life has become. In 2019, he shot Ashley Marie, an acupuncturist and a former basketball player at Colorado State University, as she arrived for work that day. She was hit in the shoulder, and thankfully suffered no life-threatening injuries from the incident.

Marie said she had never met Bannan, but recognized him as one of the owners of the building that she worked in, as well as from his time in the NFL. After he shot Marie, Bannan claimed that the Russian Mafia was after him and hurried away from the scene. When police found Bannan, he was sitting at a picnic table behind the building, allegedly with multiple handguns in bags he was carrying and a rolled up $20 bill that had traces of cocaine.

Bannan was taken into custody and charged with felonies that included attempted first-degree murder and first-degree assault. When arrested, he claimed that he had hydrocephalus, which is fluid buildup in the brain. He also claimed that the incident was a direct result of the head trauma, specifically CTE, that he suffered while playing football, and has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.

Former Ravens teammates recalled their time with Bannan, as another former Baltimore defensive lineman in Kelly Gregg looked back on his days going up against the 12-year veteran in practice.

“Defensive linemate Kelly Gregg said he hated going against Bannan in practice because he would always use his head to “get knock-em-back” in the trenches. When the team would swap out helmets midway through the season, Gregg said, Bannan’s would look “like a battering ram.”

Trevor Pryce, another former Ravens defensive lineman, thought that the police had it wrong when he saw that Bannan was allegedly responsible.

“Pryce remembers seeing the news and simply thinking police had the wrong guy.

“Then I saw it was Justin,” he continued. “I was like, ‘Well, football had something to do with that.’ “

For Marie, she has endured a long and hard recovery process. She also shared how the incident has impacted her everyday life.

“Every time I have to open an unknown door, I’m thinking twice,” Marie said. “And then actually stepping out of the way – just to make sure there’s not a bullet coming my way.”

Bannan’s life began to change significantly after his former college roommate and best friend, Drew Wahlroos, shot himself in his California apartment. Bannan said “it’s been tough” when speaking on how the death of Wahlroos impacted him.

The former defensive lineman now awaits for a verdict to be reached, and is currently scheduled to stand trial in June. He posted a $500,000 bond after his initial arrest, but prosecutors asked a judge to revoke that bond due to multiple incidents.

“Then, last spring, prosecutors asked a judge to revoke Bannan’s bond and take him into custody. They wrote in court filings that Bannan had missed a court-mandated drug test in December 2019 and tested positive for cocaine in April 2020.”

Bannan subsequently provided emails indicating that he had taken the 2019 test but the lab had been unable to supply the results. The judge pledged to take a “zero-tolerance approach” moving forward but allowed him to remain out of custody.”

Marie has taken time to look into the resources that the NFL provides to their retired players and has said that they are “seriously lacking”. Marie has first-hand experience dealing with head trauma due to her days playing college basketball, so she says she can “empathize” with Bannan, and even “to an extent, forgive him”. However, she also made it clear that it isn’t an excuse for what happened to her in 2019.

“It’s really hard for a lot of people to manage,” Marie said. “… I still don’t think it’s an excuse for ending up in someone’s treatment room with two loaded guns, hiding and waiting for the next person that comes through that door, to shoot them.”