The scandal surrounding former Ravens running back Ray Rice has continued to deepen this week after his release by the Ravens for punching his now-wife in the face in an infamous elevator video. First, a longer version of the video was released. Then, the Associated Press has reported that not only was a league executive shown the video in April (long before what the NFL claimed in the wake of the scandal) but that the video was sent by a law enforcement official.
The AP says that a “law enforcement official” had a short voice mail on April 9th from a NFL official thanking him for a copy of the video and she notes on the recorded message that “You’re right. It’s terrible.”
That message would certainly suggest that the denial of knowledge before last Monday is questionable and adds to the controversy over the response of the NFL and Roger Goodell. However, I am more concerned about a law enforcement officer leaking a video to a private party anonymously. Since when does law enforcement collect evidence and then, in a non-public way, throw the evidence over a transom. There has been a long complaint over such leaks from the FBI and other law enforcement agencies designed to punish or pressure individuals.
The NFL announced that former FBI Director Robert Mueller will lead an independent inquiry into the league’s investigation. However, there has been no discussion about the authority or propriety of a law enforcement agent leaking this type of evidence. According to the AP, the officer insisted on anonymity and played the recording. Thus, you have a law enforcement officer who sends evidence to a private party and then gives a recording of that party to the press. It is all clearly calculated to punish Rice, the Ravens and/or the NFL.
I respect the AP’s work on this story, which is terrific. I also believe in the protection of such sources. However, there are legitimate concerns about what law enforcement office was responsible for leaking evidence against an individual for such purposes. There is no indication that the video was sent as part of a criminal investigation or why the NFL would be included in such a distribution. Indeed, it is not clear what office of law enforcement was involved. We do know that the Atlantic City police had reviewed surveillance footage in its investigation.
In the meantime, Atlantic County Prosecutor James McClain has denied special treatment for Rice who was able to enroll in a special treatment program despite his knocking his future wife unconscious and dragging her out of the elevator. As a first offender, he was given the alternative to jail — the same opportunity that other defendants have been accorded.