Whether someone at the NFL before this week saw the full video in which Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice punched his then-fiancee, Janay Palmer, unconscious on an elevator is still up for debate. However, the league allegedly had access to the damning footage.
According to the Associated Press, a law-enforcement official has come forward claiming that he sent the full video of the incident to an NFL executive five months ago. The official, who wished to remain unidentified because of the controversy of the pending investigation, played for the newswire a voice mail from an NFL office number in which a female voice confirms that the video arrived, saying, “You’re right; it’s terrible.”
The official told AP that he had no further contact with any employee at the NFL after that confirmation and could not be certain that anyone watched the video. He explained to AP that it was unauthorized, at the time, to release the video, but that he handed a copy to the NFL so that NFL officials would have it before deciding on a punishment for the disgraced football player.
The NFL released a statement Wednesday shortly after the claim. “We have no knowledge of this,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said Wednesday, according to ESPN. “We are not aware of anyone in our office who possessed or saw the video before it was made public on Monday. We will look into it.”
ABC News sources also pointed fingers at Rice’s team, the Baltimore Ravens, saying that the team could have viewed the video but ultimately did not. According to ABC News, the team knew shortly after the incident that Rice had knocked his wife out and that the player’s lawyer had a copy of the video, but they never asked to see it, ABC News reports.
According to ABC, the Ravens did ask the Atlantic City, N.J., hotel where the incident occurred for the video footage, but they were told that the tape would not be released to anyone except the people involved in the footage or law enforcement. However, the team was informed that Rice’s lawyer had access. But instead of asking Rice’s lawyer, both the NFL and the Ravens turned to law enforcement, who, they say, did not share the tape.
As AP notes, the league has said that it never had access to the graphic video of Rice punching the woman who later became his wife. The NFL insisted that no one had seen the video until TMZ released it Monday.
"We assumed that there was a video. We asked for video. But we were never granted that opportunity," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell told CBS Tuesday, AP notes.
The commissioner said that the NFL had asked law enforcement for the video, and not the casino where the incident occurred, because, "in the context of a criminal investigation, information obtained outside of law enforcement that has not been tested by prosecutors or by the court system is not necessarily a reliable basis for imposing league discipline."
When the video was finally released to the public by TMZ, the Ravens responded by terminating Rice, with the NFL swiftly following with an indefinite suspension from the league.