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October 6, 2022
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NBA player Jaxson Hayes charged with domestic violence in Los Angeles

NBA player Jaxson Hayes charged with domestic violence in Los Angeles

New Orleans Pelicans center Jaxson Hayes was charged with misdemeanor domestic violence on Monday in connection to an incident at his Los Angeles home last year, officials said.

The 6-foot-11 Hayes is now facing 12 charges that include alleged domestic violence, battery, false imprisonment, trespassing and vandalism related to an incident with his girlfriend, as well as  battery of a police officer and resisting arrest, according to a criminal complaint filed on Monday.

Hayes, 21, was arrested after a confrontation with police in the early morning hours of July 28 at his home in the Woodland Hills neighborhood of L.A.

The officers went to Hayes’ home after his girlfriend’s cousin called 911. The cousin said Hayes’ girlfriend was sending her text messages saying he had become loud and violent and she was scared.

Hayes, who was not armed, became argumentative after officers said he couldn’t go back into his home, police said. He allegedly ignored requests from his girlfriend and his cousin to stop talking and struggling with the police as they tried to subdue him.

Body camera video released by the LAPD showed an officer briefly pressed a knee to Hayes’ neck and he gasped “I can’t breathe” seconds ahead of another officer using a Taser on him during a struggle.

“Officers utilized physical force to take Hayes down to the ground to overcome his resistance. Once on the ground, Hayes attempted to get up and continued resisting officers,” police said in July. “Officers utilized two deployments of the taser, as well as bodyweight and physical force during the altercation, which lasted for approximately two and a half minutes, before officers were able to handcuff Hayes.”

The player’s defense attorney, Mark Baute, said in a statement to NBC News on Tuesday, “Jaxson Hayes is a great young man, and he will cooperate with both the NBA and the City Attorney in resolving the misdemeanor charges.”

A representative for the Pelicans could not be immediately reached by NBC News for comment on Tuesday.

Hayes remains free on a $25,000 bond from the July incident and his arraignment on these dozen charges is set for Feb. 15.

The Pelicans have back-to-back home games on Feb. 14-15 against the Toronto Raptors and Memphis Grizzlies, respectively.

Felonies in L.A. County are prosecuted by the District Attorney’s Office, while misdemeanors are often kicked down to the L.A. City Attorney’s Office.

That Hayes’ case is not being handled by DA George Gascón’s office has angered the union representing LAPD officers. Law enforcement and victim advocacy groups have been at odds for months with Gascón, himself a former LAPD officer.

“Luckily, when it comes to holding criminals accountable for their crimes, the residents of Los Angeles are not solely dependent on George Gascón and can rely on the United States Attorney and City Attorney to do their jobs,” the Los Angeles Police Protective League said in a statement late Monday night. 

The union, however, said it was grateful that L.A. City Attorney Mike Feuer had taken up the case.

“We’re pleased that the City Attorney evaluated the evidence and charged Jaxson Hayes for assaulting an LAPD officer, domestic violence, and ten additional crimes. It’s disappointing that the NBA has remained silent on Mr. Hayes’ behavior despite the video evidence and its stated zero-tolerance policy on domestic violence.”

Alex Bastian, a special advisor to Gascón, defended the office’s actions. 

“The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office referred this matter to the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office for possible misdemeanor filing because the conduct — a push — did not rise to the level of a felony case filing,” Bastian said in a statement Tuesday to NBC News.

“The charge evaluation worksheet is not being released at this time because the case remains open until the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office has resolved its prosecution.”

The Pelicans visit the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday night. It was unclear if Hayes would be playing.

Hayes has played in 34 of the team’s 46 games this season, averaging 7.0 and 3.5 rebounds per contest coming off the New Orleans bench.

Hayes was the No. 8 overall pick of the Atlanta Hawks in the 2019 NBA Draft out of Texas before his trade to New Orleans.

David K. Li is a breaking news reporter for NBC News.

Andrew Blankstein

Andrew Blankstein is an investigative reporter for NBC News. He covers the Western United States, specializing in crime, courts and homeland security. 

The Associated Press

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