Adrian Peterson (Brace Hemmelgarn/US Presswire)
Nothing substantive is expected to be decided today at Adrian Peterson’s arraignment hearing. If the case against him for resisting arrest makes it to trial, no big events are anticipated for another two to three weeks at least, according to his attorney.
Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson is having to defend himself from both a charge of resisting arrest by the Houston Police Department and public criticism as he heads to his first court hearing Friday.
But he won’t show up in a Houston courtroom alone. Not after hiring high-profile attorney Rusty Hardin, who has been telling Peterson’s side of the story all week.
Peterson, 27, was arrested early Saturday morning at a Houston nightclub after allegedly refusing to leave and then shoving an off-duty officer who was working security at the club. Peterson was later charged with resisting arrest and was released on $1,000 bond. Resisting arrest is a Class A misdemeanor in Texas and punishable with up to one year in county jail and/or a fine not to exceed $4,000 or up to two years of community supervision.
Despite the low level of the offense, Peterson is eager to clear his name, and the arrest and ensuing comments from both the police and Peterson’s attorney have drawn incredible media attention because of Peterson’s celebrity. The highest-paid running back in the NFL, Peterson signed a seven-year, $100 million contract extension last fall. He’s a native of Palistine in East Texas and makes his offseason home in Houston.
In many cases, such a charge might be pleaded down to a simple fine. But Hardin said on Wednesday’s “Dan Patrick Show” that Peterson isn’t interested in moving past the incident by paying a fine. Peterson, who already has seen a hit in his public image, wants to be exonerated.
“He wants everybody to make sure they understand he didn’t do this,” Hardin said on the show.
Hardin told ESPN1500 Radio in the Twin Cities on Wednesday that Friday’s hearing will likely be a formality and that the cases for and against Peterson might not really get going for another “two or three weeks.” During that time, he’s hoping the case will be dropped. In the meantime, expect Friday’s hearing to simply be a reading of the charge and the entering of Peterson’s plea.
All that will be somewhat less dramatic than Peterson’s last six days.
On Saturday, Houston Police Department spokesperson Kese Smith released the allegations against Peterson from the department’s report. Smith said Peterson’s group was asked to leave the Bayou Place nightclub by the off-duty officer at closing time. The officer then left to tell other patrons to leave the club and had to return to Peterson’s group. According to Smith, Peterson told the officer he had heard him the first time and proceeded to shove the officer in the shoulder, causing him to stumble. The officer, whom Smith said had revealed himself as an officer, told Peterson he was under arrest and to put his hands behind his back.
According to Smith, Peterson began yelling and assumed an “aggressive stance.” Another off-duty officer helped and Peterson struggled with the officers until he was handcuffed with the assistance of a third officer. Smith said Peterson had complained of shortness of breath when he was taken to jail. The Houston Fire Department examined Peterson, but he was found to be fine.
After a couple of tweets Sunday, Peterson’s full defense came Monday when he hired Hardin, the Houston-based attorney who recently earned an acquittal of Major League Baseball player Roger Clemens in a high-profile perjury case. Hardin has done the talking for Peterson since.
Hardin released a statement Monday and has been on several national and local television and radio stations presenting his client’s case.
In the statement, Hardin said, “Adrian Peterson did not resist arrest this past Saturday morning and any suggestion that he pushed, struck or shoved a Houston Police Officer is a total fabrication. He, in fact, was struck at least twice in the face for absolutely no legitimate reason, and when all the evidence is impartially reviewed, it will clearly show Adrian was the victim, not the aggressor.
“We have been investigating what happened since Saturday afternoon, and it is absolutely clear to me that the charges should not have been filed, and the Bayou Club owes Adrian an apology for having put out a totally false version of what happened. Adrian Peterson does not act the way he has been described in the initial reports, and he did not act that way Saturday morning. He was only in that club for 30 to 40 minutes, was never objectionable to other patrons, and never physically resisted any police officer. Adrian is extremely upset about these false allegations. These charges are totally at odds with the way he has conducted himself throughout his career, and he asks that his fans and the public at large reserve judgment until they hear all the facts. Adrian looks forward to his day in court.”
Hardin has echoed many of those same ideas in interviews and has added that Peterson received medical attention for facial injuries suffered that night.
Of course, the one thing that could make this case simpler — surveillance tape — isn’t going to be presented. In fact, after an earlier report that video would come to light, Hardin has said there is no videotape of the incident.
And now it’s up to Hardin and the courts to decide Peterson’s fate, beginning Friday.
Brian Hall writes about the Vikings for Fox Sports North.