The Minnesota Vikings released cornerback Jeff Gladney Tuesday just hours after a grand jury in Texas indicted him on a felony domestic violence charge stemming from an incident there in April.
Gladney, 24, had been accused of hitting, choking and dragging his then-girlfriend across the ground near Dallas during an incident that began in a vehicle the night of April 1. But a grand jury didn’t hear the case until July 29, keeping him in legal limbo for months as the Vikings tried to figure out what to do with him after he started all but one regular-season game last season.
He didn’t participate in spring workouts or training camp after he was arrested in Dallas on April 5. At the same time, he remained on the team roster as general manager Rick Spielman said the team was “letting due process take its course.”
Then came the grand jury's pivotal decision on Tuesday. The indictment states Gladney intentionally caused bodily injury to the woman by grabbing and squeezing her neck and throat, striking and pulling her with his hand and forcing her against a vehicle window. He is charged with domestic assault involving choking.
"Following our review of today's indictment against Jeff Gladney. we have decided to release Jeff immediately," the Vikings said in a statement. "As we have previously said, we take these matters seriously and condemn all forms of domestic violence. Due to the ongoing legal nature of this matter, we are unable to provide further comment."
If the grand jury didn’t believe there was enough evidence to indict him, Gladney would have had a stronger case to make for his return to pro football, though he could still have been subject to suspension by the NFL for a potential violation of its personal conduct policy. But now that an indictment has been issued instead, he is headed toward a criminal trial with his NFL career in jeopardy just a year after signing a four-year contract worth about $11 million.
The NFL will continue to review the matter, a league spokesman confirmed to USA TODAY Sports.
His ex-girlfriend last week also filed a civil lawsuit against him that accuses him of trying to bribe and harass her into not cooperating as a witness.
As recently as July 25, four days before the grand jury hearing, the woman’s lawsuit said Gladney showed up at her home uninvited and forced her to delete threads of text messages and screenshots of text messages.
“Gladney physically assaulted and beat Plaintiff and held her against her will for several hours,” the lawsuit stated. “Once the incident was over, Gladney attempted to bribe, threaten, blackmail, and manipulate Plaintiff into silence about the incident. Gladney has since followed, harassed, and attempted to coerce Plaintiff on several occasions, and has publicly falsely accused Plaintiff of lying.”
The lawsuit seeks at least $1 million in damages. Gladney, a first-round draft pick last year out of TCU, could not be reached for comment. His attorney didn't immediately return a message seeking comment.
He is now an unrestricted free agent. If he's signed by a new team, he could be placed on the commissioner's exempt list, pending the league's investigation.
Follow reporter Brent Schrotenboer @Schrotenboer. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Jeff Gladney: Vikings release CB indicted on domestic violence charge