Former Seattle Seahawks player Chad Wheeler is embroiled in controversy after his arrest for felony domestic violence on Friday, concerning a physical altercation where he beat and strangled his girlfriend Alleah, a Black woman, unconscious.
Her full name is being withheld from the press for privacy reasons.
The incident adds to a lengthy list of domestic violence allegations made against NFL players, in which almost every year since 2014 a player makes national headlines after being exposed for physically assaulting a partner.
In a police report obtained by TMZ, Alleah claimed the two were dating for six months and that the brutal attack transpired during a manic episode after Wheeler stopped taking his medication for bipolar disorder. Court documents say the incident transpired after Wheeler demanded Alleah stand and bow to him.
Wheeler was arrested on Saturday and released Tuesday on $400,000, bail. He faces multiple charges including first-degree domestic violence assault, domestic violence unlawful imprisonment and resisting arrest. A hearing is scheduled for Feb. 9.
On Wednesday afternoon Wheeler issued a statement on Twitter, apologizing for the “turmoil I have caused my family, teammates, fans, and those closest to me.”
“The most important thing right now is that Alleah gets the care she needs and I get help. Both are happening,” he continued.
Prior to Wheeler’s tweet, the Seattle Seahawks released their own statement stating it “strongly” condemns this act of domestic violence,” and confirmed Wheeler was released from the team.
While Wheeler is now a restricted free agent, he will technically remain on the Seahawks’ roster until the next season begins in March, according to NBC Sports.
According to CNN police were called to Wheeler’s Kent, Washington, residence around 9:44 p.m. on Jan. 22, where police found Alleah screaming from the bathroom, bloodied and beaten where she was barricaded with Wheeler behind her. Wheeler, who stands at 6’7″ and weighs 310 pounds, reportedly resisted restraint through usage of a taser.
Investigators discovered “noticeable fingerprints on both sides of her neck as well as capillaries that had burst at the back of her throat.” Alleah claims she lost consciousness twice, and says after the first time she lost consciousness Wheeler was shocked she was still alive.
Last week’s brutal assault was not the first time Wheeler displayed troubling behavior.
Wheeler, a 2017 draft pick from the University of Southern California, was detained in 2015 during an off-campus incident where he was accused of punching walls and windows while barricading himself inside an apartment with a 20-year-old woman and her 7-month-old baby, the Los Angeles Times reports. Wheeler ignored police demands and was restrained after cops fired multiple rounds of bean bags at him. He was taken to a local hospital where he underwent psychiatric evaluation.
But the NFL’s long documented history of domestic violence instances have become more troubling as the years pass.
In 2014 former Baltimore Ravens player Ray Rice was captured on camera striking his then girlfriend in a New Jersey elevator, leading to calls for Rice to be ousted and disciplined to the furthest extent. However, after the NFL issued a lenient punishment of Rice where he was suspended for two games – they were forced to review and revisit their policy on personal conduct. He was later suspended and released from his contract with the Ravens.
To date the NFL can launch it’s own investigation without a criminal case and sidelines players for six games after the first report of domestic violence.
Since Rice several other players have been accused of domestic violence including Ray McDonald and Adrian Peterson in 2014, and most recently Tyreek Hill and Antonio Brown in 2019.
Zach Banner, Wheeler’s former teammate at USC, sent his thought and prayers to Alleah in a Wednesday tweet.
Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Dez Bryant pointed out the way news coverage leans in instances when Black athletes are concerned, while also offering to break “something across” Wheeler’s head.
For Black women, instances of domestic violence are not rare occurrences and have heighted since the onset of the pandemic. Black women are 2.5 more times more likely to be killed by men than white women, and in 92 percent of those cases they are familiar with their murderer. 56 percent of these homicides are committed by a current or former partner.
A 2017 report from the National Center for Victims of Crime found that 53.8 percent of Black women had experienced psychological abuse, while 41.2 percent of Black women had experienced physical abuse. More than 40 percent of Black women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime, according to the Institute For Women’s Policy and Research.