MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (AP) — Middle Tennessee police say they have video of a Blue Raiders football player choking his girlfriend last November while two teammates watched and did nothing.
Ronni Cantrell, 19, of Knoxville met with university police on Friday, and they released a report Monday saying they have a copy of a videotape showing the woman pleading with defensive tackle J.D. Jones to stop choking her first with his hand, then his arm from behind.
Officer Adam Wortman wrote the videotape is narrated by other suspects who did not help the woman and said the choking "happens all the time or every day." The officer wrote that a friend is seen and heard trying to stop Jones from choking Cantrell only to be threatened by other men in the room, according to the report first obtained by The Daily News Journal.
The videotape is evidence in a criminal case and will not be released prior to court proceedings, Sgt. Broede Stucky told The Associated Press.
Jones was charged with two counts of domestic aggravated assault on Saturday; cornerback Rodney O'Neal and defensive tackle Marcus Robinson, also with two counts of aiding and abetting. Middle Tennessee suspended the three players — all redshirt sophomores — Saturday night.
"These are obviously troubling charges and these players will remain suspended while Public Safety and Judicial Affairs continue their investigations," athletic director Chris Massaro said in a statement on Monday.
Cantrell also told police that Jones had assaulted her repeatedly between October and May, though she cited three specific incidents including being choked in November. She said Jones pulled her from underneath a bed in a friend's room and into a kitchen in October.
In the third incident, she told police she refused to give Jones money he wanted to buy marijuana when the 6-foot-3, 295-pound Jones picked up a "baseball type bat"" and began hitting her on the legs. The 5-3, 115-pound Cantrell said she refused again and went back into her friend's apartment where Jones hit her on her legs and back hard enough to leave bruises. She said Jones also choked her and also hit her in the face with a football that knocked her down.
Cantrell told police she did not intend to file charges, but she did report the incident to the university's Judicial Affairs Department. Detectives also escorted Cantrell and her parents to the Domestic Violence Department to obtain an Order of Protection against Jones.
Jones, O'Neal and Robinson are due in court Aug. 29 when Middle Tennessee opens the season against Western Carolina.