NBA player Jaxson Hayes charged with domestic violence, resisting arrest in L.A.

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New Orleans Pelicans center Jaxson Hayes
New Orleans Pelicans center Jaxson Hayes sets up a play during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Orlando Magic in December. (Phelan M. Ebenhack / Associated Press)

New Orleans Pelicans center Jaxson Hayes has been charged with domestic violence, resisting arrest and battery against a police officer in connection with a July incident at a Woodland Hills home that ended when LAPD officers choked him and hit him with a Taser.

The Los Angeles city attorney's office charged Hayes on Monday with five counts of abusing a spouse or co-habitant, one count of resisting arrest, one count of battery against an LAPD officer, three counts of vandalism, one count of false imprisonment and one count of trespassing in connection with the July clash.

Police responded to the residence, which was initially described as Hayes' home, after his girlfriend's cousin called 911 and said Hayes was being "loud and violent" and that his significant other was scared.

When police arrived, however, Hayes and the woman who called police told officers that the situation had been defused, according to video of the incident released last year by the LAPD.

The officers told Hayes to wait outside while they talked to the woman, but he demanded to see a search warrant and asked why he couldn't go inside.

As the argument escalated, an officer then told Hayes he was going to be detained, and two officers tried to restrain him. Hayes spun and pushed one of the officers into a wall near the home’s front door, the video shows. The officer suffered an unspecified elbow injury, police said.

Hayes was then taken to the ground and one officer began kneeling on his neck. Hayes shouted, "I can't breathe," and another officer then struck him in the chest with a Taser, the video shows.

The LAPD immediately came under scrutiny for the force depicted in the video, as it seemed to run afoul of department policy. Officers are forbidden from blocking or restricting a person’s airway while trying to subdue them. Targeting a person’s chest with a Taser is also strongly discouraged, according to LAPD policy.

Calls to Hayes' agent seeking comment were not immediately returned. Attempts to contact a Pelicans spokesperson were unsuccessful. The NBA had not released a statement about the charges as of Monday night.

Police initially said Hayes' girlfriend refused to cooperate with investigators. On Monday, LAPD spokeswoman Norma Eisenman said the woman was interviewed again last month and "provided additional details about the incident." She was not identified in court documents made public Monday.

Though the residence where the incident took place was initially described as Hayes' home, Eisenman said Monday that the property belonged to the victim. The internal review of the force used against Hayes will not be completed until March, at the earliest, Eisenman said.

The Los Angeles County district attorney's office declined to pursue felony charges against Hayes last year. Ricardo Santiago, a spokesman for the district attorney's office, said Monday that the case was referred to the city attorney "because the conduct — a push — did not rise to the level of a felony case filing."

It was not clear whether the domestic violence allegations were also presented to county prosecutors. Normally, prosecutors produce a document explaining why they have declined charges in a case, which is subject to a public records request.

Santiago declined to release the document to The Times on Monday "because the case remains open until the Los Angeles city attorney’s office has resolved its prosecution."

The decision not to file felony charges against Hayes last year drew the ire of the union that represents rank-and-file police officers, who celebrated the announcement of criminal proceedings Monday.

"We’re pleased that the city attorney evaluated the evidence and charged Jaxson Hayes…. It’s disappointing that the NBA has remained silent on Mr. Hayes’ behavior despite the video evidence and its stated zero-tolerance policy on domestic violence," the Los Angeles Police Protective League said in a statement Monday. "There are fundamental values at play in this incident that Mr. Hayes, [Los Angeles County Dist. Atty.] George Gascón, and the NBA should recognize, it must never be acceptable to engage in domestic violence or attack police officers."

Hayes, who was released on bail after his arrest last year, was in New Orleans on Sunday and Monday for the Pelicans' home games against the New York Knicks and Indiana Pacers. He appeared in both games.

Rob Wilcox, a city attorney's office spokesperson, said a warrant had not been issued for Hayes' arrest, but he is due in court Feb. 15.

Times staff writer Kevin Rector contributed to this report.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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