Remember the Ray McDonald case? It’s probably going away. Sources have told South Bay court reporter Tracey Kaplan of the Bay Area News Group that Santa Clara County prosecutors are “leaning against charging” the 49ers defensive tackle with domestic violence in the case involving his pregnant fiancee that made headlines at the end of training camp.
The Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office is likely to announce the decision soon and issue a report laying out the reasons, the sources said, as it has in other incidents involving the 49ers that weren’t related to domestic violence, including not charging 49er Ahmad Brooks with assault after an alleged scuffle with a teammate. However, the office did prosecute Aldon Smith for drunken driving and possession of illegal assault rifles.
The District Attorney’s Office would not comment on the likely outcome of the McDonald case and denied rumors that a report would be issued Friday. Prosecutors have twice canceled a tentative arraignment hearing for McDonald, a good sign for the player, some legal experts said.
McDonald’s supporters have long insisted that the defensive end is a gentle giant who was merely putting up mild resistance Aug. 31 to ward off a physical attack by his fiancee. In late May, the woman grabbed a gun during an argument the couple had and left the house when McDonald threatened to call police. Officers responded to the call, but no arrests were made.
In both instances, the woman could have been defending herself. Police initially said his pregnant fiancee showed “visible injuries” that some sources described as red marks or bruises.
If what Kaplan has heard indeed comes to pass, a situation that caused an uproar in September and grew quieter with each passing week will vanish into the ether. We’ll probably never know exactly what went on between McDonald and his fiancee, either on the night of the party or during the situation in May that involved a disagreement and a firearm.
The 49ers seemed to believe that McDonald did nothing wrong, or, perhaps more accurately, that he did nothing that would lead to domestic violence charges. Whether that was in part due to knowing McDonald as well as they do, or from interviews with the players, or information provided by law enforcement sources, is also unknown. The role of Sgt. Sean Pritchard, a San Jose Police officer who works “security” for the 49ers along with several other SJPD officers, raised eyebrows as Pritchard was called by McDonald and arrived at the house before other officers were able to respond to the 911 call.
In the end, the 49ers rested on “due process,” a term they referenced several times (back when this story was a big deal). If the process leads to nothing in the way of charges, McDonald — whose play this year has been good but not great — will avoid getting listed with players like Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson, Jonathan Dwyer and Greg Hardy. And the 49ers will look forward to the end of Aldon Smith’s suspension and pray like hell that no one else becomes the subject of a police investigation.