Deadspin.com has released an e-mail containing an eyewitness account, from a woman they have reportedly verified to be a neighbor of Chris Rainey in Gainesville, Fla. The content of her letter, which was originally sent to ESPN AFC North writer Jamison Hensley who recommended she forward it to Deadspin, paints a very different story of the events which transpired Thursday morning involving Rainey and his girlfriend, which led to Rainey's eventual arrest and subsequent release by the Pittsburgh Steelers.
I am writing you in regard to your article about the Steeler's dismissal of Chris Rainey after his arrest this morning. Chris is actually my next door neighbor and I happened to see the whole ordeal transpire from my apartment as I was getting ready for class this morning. What the police report/your article describes as Chris "pull[ing] the woman out of a vehicle...and then slapp[ing] her in the face with an open hand" was actually him pulling on a backpack that she was also holding and she took a few steps outside the open car door that she was sitting sideways in (because he obviously pulled harder than she did). The only thing that I can imagine witnesses claiming to be a slap to the face was when he tried to snatch the bag and she put her hand in the way and his hand made a slapping noise against hers.
By the time I left for class, there were police officers taking statements, but the girl with whom he was arguing was telling the police officers the truth about what happened, so I did not feel it was necessary to make a statement. It seemed like they were just going through a formality because 911 was called. As a result of reading your article, I contacted GPD and asked to file a report on what actually happened. I was treated like a criminal, despite being a straight A student and never having even a little trouble with the law. I was accused of lying and told that, although they can't tell me who reported what, there was at least one witness who said they saw him slap her in the face.
I think that it is also worth noting that the person who called 911 was a neighbor who openly dislikes Chris and his roommate and wanders the neighborhood asking if she can have our passwords for our internet instead of buying her own.
It has yet to be determined if this person's statement will be taken into account by police or courts, however it does open questions regarding the differences between the accounts quoted in the official police reports and the details of the story included in this e-mail.
If the author of the e-mail felt both Rainey and his girlfriend had related statements similar to their own to police responders, how did the differing eyewitness account eventually trump those of the involved and other witnesses?
While inflicting violence is still a crime regardless of which part of the victim's anatomy is struck, reports of his arrest and following job termination revolved around his alleged "intentional" striking of the victim's face. This new account contradicts the reasoning behind both.
The largest question mark associated with this new information, is the author's inclusion of their personal feelings toward the eyewitness who claimed Rainey had actually made contact with the victim's face using his open hand. Maybe an investigation into her unauthorized internet connections will be investigated, but the admitted existence of discord between the two witness will only drag the objectivity of both stories into question, further clouding fact with circumstantial hearsay.
Perhaps the Steelers organization will be accused of sentencing Rainey without waiting for an in depth inquiry or the court's ruling, but the events of Thursday morning were surely not the only factor in the decision to part ways with their fifth round pick from Florida in 2012. Rainey has several interactions with authorities involving a stalking charge which he pleaded guilty to, trespassing at a casino and a traffic violation.
Rainey may still find work with another NFL franchise in the future, no matter the verdict of his court appearance; it just won't be with Pittsburgh.