San Francisco 49ers defensive end Ray McDonald will not get felony domestic violence charges for an incident that allegedly took place at his home in August.
The DA's memo details an altercation between McDonald and his fiancée — referred to as Jane Doe — in the early morning during his Aug. 31 birthday party.
The incident began when one of McDonald's guests reportedly told his fiancée that there were women getting "too friendly" with McDonald, according to the memo. The fiancée confronted the women, and McDonald then "called her names, indicated that she was an unfit mother, and threatened to take her baby."
The fiancée was 10 weeks pregnant at the time.
Both parties confirmed to police that the fiancée then struck McDonald. He then grabbed her arms "to restrain her, resulting in visible injury," according to the memo.
There's conflicting accounts about what happened next , according to the DA memo:
At some point they ended up on the couch. Jane Doe said McDonald threw her on the couch. McDonald said they fell on the couch. McDonald tried to remove Jane Doe from the home forcibly. At one point he grabbed her neck, resulting in visible injury. Jane Doe said she was "fighting back," physically resisting McDonald's efforts to pull her out of the house. Jane Doe said she tried to push McDonald off of her. Jane Doe was able to free herself. McDonald said he let go.
McDonald called Sgt. Sean Pritchard, a San Jose Police Department officer who at the time worked security for 49ers home games in nearby Santa Clara. McDonald's fiancée called 911.
The DA memo said McDonald's fiancée refused to give any interviews after the initial visit from police, and that she refused to allow her injuries to be photographed. There were also no other eyewitnesses to the altercation.
The fiancée's description of the incident during the 911 report had an impact on how prosecutors determined whether or not to charge McDonald, the memo said. In the phone call, she told the responder that McDonald was "trying to pull [her] out of the house," but did not mention any specific incidents of violence from him.
The decision not to continue with the felony domestic violence charges against McDonald is explained as such:
The decision is clear because we have mutual fighting between two parties, each party blaming the other and there are no verifiable eyewitnesses, no one with significant injuries, and no allegation of prior domestic violence by McDonald.
McDonald and his fiancée's consistency in reporting that she struck first was a large factor in the decision not to charge McDonald, the memo said.
The 49ers were criticized for not benching the defensive end immediately after arrest. In September, 49ers owner Jed York addressed how the team would determine an appropriate course of action for McDonald:
Following the DA memo and news that McDonald would not be charged, the 49ers released the following statement:
The issue of domestic violence is important to us, as it is throughout society. We have taken this allegation seriously, just as we have taken the principles of due process seriously. We have said from the beginning that we will consider the information available, allow the facts to lead to our decisions and respect the judicial process. Based on the information available to us and the District Attorney's decision not to file charges, there will be no change in Ray's status with the team.