Georgia police department closes case that named Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard

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Barry Jackson
·3 min read
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The Dunwoody, Georgia, police department said Monday that it has closed a case which identified Miami Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard as a person of interest — but not a suspect — in an unsolved Atlanta-area shooting from last summer in which no one was hurt but one round pierced a child’s playroom.

The home is owned by sports agent Damarius Bilbo, who represented Howard until the two parted ways sometime after October.

Howard’s name appeared in the June 29 police report about the shooting. Also named in the report: Ray Gibson, 29; Angelica Brown, 27, whose car was spotted at the crime scene; and Leonardo “Ken” Underwood, 45, a Howard associate who appeared to be in contact with Gibson multiple times on the day of the attack before it happened.

Howard, 27, is not suspected to have been inside the vehicle when a gunman allegedly fired into the suburban Atlanta home.

“The case is closed inactive,” the Dunwoody police department told the Miami Herald on Monday. “This means there are no further leads or evidence at this time. If any further information comes in, the case can be re-opened for further investigation.”

Darren Heitner, who is part of Howard’s representation, said “Xavien was not involved in this incident and there is no evidence to suggest otherwise.”

Dunwoody, Georgia, police on multiple occasions requested an interview with Howard, but he declined, according to two sources with direct knowledge of the investigation. The most recent request was made in the past few weeks.

Asked why Howard declined to speak to police, Heitner said: “It’s standard protocol for attorneys to speak on behalf of their clients.”

The Dolphins and NFL declined to comment on the matter or whether they would launch an independent investigation.

Though the NFL cannot compel a player to speak to law enforcement, the league can require Howard to speak to its investigators. Players who do not cooperate are subject to discipline.

The NFL’s Personal Conduct Policy states: “Because the Fifth Amendment’s protection against self-incrimination does not apply in a workplace investigation, the league will reserve the right to compel a player to cooperate in its investigations even when he is the target of a pending law enforcement investigation or proceeding. A player’s refusal to speak to a league investigator under such circumstances will not preclude an investigation from proceeding or discipline from being imposed.”

The Dolphins have been aware of Dunwoody police requests to speak to Howard since at least mid-January, when the Herald asked the team for a comment on the matter. The Dolphins, by league rule, were required to inform the NFL immediately after learning of the matter. The Dolphins declined to say Monday if they did so.

“Clubs and players are obligated to promptly report any matter that comes to their attention (through, for example, victim or witness reports, law enforcement, civil litigation, or media reports) that may constitute a violation of this Policy,” the NFL says in its Personal Conduct Policy. “Clubs are expected to educate their employees on this obligation to report. . . . Failure to report an incident will be grounds for disciplinary action. This obligation to report is broader than simply reporting an arrest; it requires reporting to the league any incident that comes to the club’s or player’s attention which, if the allegations were true, would constitute a violation of the Policy.”