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Chad Wheeler, the former Seattle Seahawks backup offensive tackle, pleaded not guilty to domestic violence charges after his arrest in the state of Washington last week, ESPN reported.
Wheeler, 27, entered the plea Monday morning during an arraignment. He pleaded not guilty to criminal charges of first-degree domestic violence assault, domestic violence unlawful imprisonment and resisting arrest.
Wheeler pleads not guilty in domestic violence case
Wheeler was ordered by the judge at King County’s Maleng Regional Justice Center to stay in Washington on electronic home detention. He was given a GPS-equipped ankle monitor device as a condition to be released from jail.
He was arrested Jan. 26 after local police in Kent responded to a 911 call from his girlfriend, who filed the report. Wheeler was already ordered to have no contact with the woman and to surrender any weapons ahead of the arraignment.
She appeared at the hearing, per ESPN, with her left arm in a sling. A representative read a statement that said in part she does not feel safe with Wheeler out of custody and objected to Wheeler’s request he be able to stay at his home in Hawaii.
The hearing to set the case date is on Feb. 11, per ESPN.
Seahawks, Wheeler issue statements
The Seahawks waived Wheeler on Wednesday, one day after the arrest. The team’s PR account tweet announcing he was no longer a part of the franchise encouraged Wheeler “to get the help he needs.”
Wheeler released a statement on Twitter the same day to say he’s “deeply sorry for the pain and suffering that I have caused to [the victim] and her family.” He apologized “profusely for the turmoil that I have caused to my family, teammates, fans and those closest to me.”
Multiple NFL players have reportedly asked the league office to issue a strong statement about the case and issue significant discipline. The league is reviewing it under its personal conduct policy, per ESPN.
Wheeler arrested for allegedly choking girlfriend
Content Warning: Details surrounding Wheeler’s arrest are graphic and contain descriptions of the alleged assault.
Wheeler’s girlfriend said the NFL player twice choked her into unconsciousness and voiced surprise that she was still alive afterward. Both have called it a “manic episode,” and Wheeler’s father said at the arraignment that Wheeler was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in January 2016, via ESPN.
Wheeler, listed at 6-foot-7 and 310 pounds, allegedly threw his girlfriend, who is listed on the report at 5-9 and 145 pounds, on the bed and choked her until she was unconscious, per the report. When she regained consciousness, he reportedly said, “wow, you’re alive?” The woman locked herself in the bathroom and called 911. She later told police when asked if she thought she was going to die, “I thought I already had.”
Police responded to the call Tuesday and reported hearing screaming from inside the apartment when they arrived. They found Wheeler standing beside the victim and reported Wheeler to initially be “uncooperative” when officers went to arrest him.
The woman was found with her face covered in blood and her left arm swollen and limp against her body, the police report said.
A scan showed she had a fractured humerus and dislocated elbow, according to ESPN. Another scan showed, via ESPN, “indications that she had aspirated fluid and that she vomited large amounts of blood the next day, according to the documents. She also reported a sore throat, difficulty swallowing and eating, a headache and neck pain.”
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