Late Thursday night the legal team for Ezekiel Elliott, headed up by Jeffery Kessler of lockout/Deflategate fame, to throw out the six-game suspension Elliott received from the NFL for an alleged domestic violence incident.
The lawsuit itself is about the process that took place with the NFL’s investigation — Elliott’s camp claims there is a conspiracy taking place — and one of the concerns from Elliott’s legal team is the way in which the NFL handled the veracity of Tiffany Thompson’s claims of domestic abuse.
Specifically, the legal team questioned why Kia Roberts, the league’s primary investigator, was not made available either to Roger Goodell or during the appeal. Roberts, according to NFLPA lawyers, Cowboys running back and would have questioned the credibility of Thompson.for the
As part of the lawsuit, the NFLPA lawyers also included some transcript from a June 26 meeting of advisors to Goodell, who interviewed NFL senior vice president and special counsel for investigations Lisa Friel, who along with Roberts, prepared the Elliott report for the league.
In this specific case, one of Goodell’s advisors, Mary Jo White, asked Friel if she found Thompson “to be credible.” Friel said no.
From the lawsuit:
Ms. White: And then, Adolpho, you tell me if this is an inappropriate question. You’ve obviously, and your investigators, your staff as well, have interviewed Miss Thompson several times from the record. With respect, I will start at the back end. With respect to what she has told you and told the police, city attorney, with respect to the July 22 incident, have you found what she said to you – we will take it with you first – to be credible, as to the July 22 event?
Ms. Friel: No.
Ms. White: Otherwise, have you generally found her to be credible? I know that is a big question.
Ms. Friel: It is a big question. I will go back and say it this way. We felt comfortable making the determination that she was not credible about the July 22 incident in large part because of her own friend Ayrin Mason, said it did not occur. And we found Ayrin Mason very credible. I would say that the other person we found very credible was her Aunt, Elaine Glenn. What we looked at in terms of looking at the evidence was here’s what Miss Thompson said and what other evidence can we gather to see if it backs up her credibility or does not back up her credibility. And that would be hard evidence, like the text messages; they say what they say, they went to who they went to. The photographs, especially the ones with metadata on them. The opinions we got back from the two doctors that we spoke to. And as I said, Ayrin Mason who saw injuries during the week as did her Aunt both seeing it [on] FaceTime and then seeing photographs that got sent. I want to say it that way, that that evidence is really, in my opinion what we should be looking at, and what does all that corroborative consistent or inconsistent evidence say about Miss Thompson’s credibility.
The July 22 incident was when police became involved — Thompson called police regarding an incident with Elliott on his birthday. There was an incident between Thompson and another female outside of a club, The Social Room, where Elliott was celebrating his birthday.
Thompson and the friend she was with claimed the incident was short, but according to police, who were speaking to the NFL’s investigative team, it was about a minute-long fight between Thompson and the other woman outside the club after Thompson allegedly called the woman an obscene name.
From the league’s report:
He said this officer’s version of what had occurred was very different than Ms. Thompson’s and Ms. Mason’s who had described the altercation as “being very short-lived, maybe one smack, one hair pulling.” The police officer described it as “flying, punching, and falling to the ground.”
The different descriptions of what occurred essentially formulates the basis for the concerns about Thompson’s credibility. The NFL also had eight photos showing some bruises on Thompson’s body included in the report.
The credibility of Thompson as a victim or an accuser is not what the court case is about, but it is certainly an issue that the NFL would be concerned about when it was deciding whether or not it should suspend Elliott.