A Morgan County judge dismissed charges against Oakland Raiders linebacker Rolando McClain after the alleged victim, a plaintiff in a corresponding civil suit, told the court earlier this month that he no longer wishes to pursue his criminal case against the NFL star.
It was unclear what agreement, if any, between McClain and his accuser led to the charges being dropped. Those connected with the case declined comment.
McClain appealed his Decatur Municipal Court conviction on all charges from a Nov. 30, 2011, altercation in which Rishard Tapscott, a former friend and high school basketball teammate, said the former University of Alabama and Decatur High School standout threatened to kill him and fired a pistol next to his ear.
McClain pleaded not guilty in Circuit Court, where the misdemeanor case was on track for a new trial before a jury.
According to court documents, Circuit Court Judge Steven Haddock signed the order Nov. 9 dismissing the charges of third-degree assault, menacing, reckless endangerment and wrongful discharge of a firearm.
Tapscott’s attorney, Carl Cole, declined response to questions about whether his client entered into an agreement with McClain.
“I can’t comment on anything. The court filings speak for themselves. That’s about as much as I can say,” Cole said.
It was not clear whether the civil suit against McClain and Jarodiaus Willingham, who was convicted of third-degree assault in a separate city trial, remained in play or was also dropped.
McClain’s lawyer, Harvey Steinberg, of the Denver, Colo., firm of Springer & Steinberg, when reached by telephone Sunday, said he was at a Denver Broncos game and was not immediately able to respond to questions. He did not return a later call.
Attorney Jimmy Adams with Cole’s former firm, Eyster Key, said he suspects a deal was struck and those involved are bound by non-disclosure agreements.
“The prosecuting witness has decided not to pursue it anymore, which would indicate to me that the parties have probably reached a settlement, an agreement, and part of that agreement was that the charges would be dropped,” Adams said. “... It’s a situation where they work something out, it’s going to be kept quiet, and it goes away.”
The appeal “basically erased” McClain’s municipal court conviction, so Tapscott dropping charges at this stage means McClain won’t have a conviction on his record, Adams said.
City Prosecutor Emily Baggett, who filed the motion to dismiss, explained that the case was a “prosecuting witness case,” meaning police did not bring the charges. Though Decatur police detectives did investigate the incident because of claims that a firearm was involved, Tapscott himself filed the complaint against McClain. It’s up to the prosecuting witness whether a case proceeds.
“My policy is if a prosecuting witness requests dismissal of charges, I generally agree to a dismissal unless a domestic violence issue is involved,” she said.
At the May 17 trial before Municipal Judge Bill Cook, Steinberg intimated Tapscott was seeking $250,000 in damages from his client, who signed a five-year, $40 million contract — $23 million of which was guaranteed — before the 2010 season.
Adams said he couldn’t speculate about any monetary offers.
“There’s no way to tell, though I will say that the figure that Rolando’s lawyer threw out is pretty much meaningless,” he said.
Tapscott, 23, told the court that McClain punched him and pointed a pistol at his head before firing a shot next to his ear outside a home at 1804 Skyview St. S.W.
Cook sentenced McClain, 22, to 180 days in jail and $2,000 in fines. Steinberg called the trial “meaningless” and immediately asked for an appeal.
McClain later apologized for bringing bad publicity to the Raiders.
In the higher court, McClain entered a written not guilty plea through his attorneys Aug. 29, waiving his right to an arraignment hearing. His trial had been set for Feb. 25, with Judge Glenn Thompson presiding.