ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — The video of Ray Rice punching his fiancee inside a casino elevator was sent to NFL headquarters to the attention of league security chief Jeffrey Miller in April, a law enforcement official says.
The NFL has repeatedly said no one with the league saw the violent images until TMZ Sports released the video earlier this month. Miller said Thursday through an NFL spokesman that he never received the video.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to release details of the case, said he doesn’t know if Miller ever saw the DVD or opened the package. His only communication with the NFL was a 12-second voicemail on April 9 from league offices confirming receipt of the package, in which a woman says, “You’re right. It’s terrible.”
The official told the AP two weeks ago that he sent the video to the NFL, but asked the AP not to report that he had addressed the package to Miller. He eliminated that restriction Thursday.
“Since the NFLPA and NFL have launched separate investigations into the league and the Ravens’ handling of Ray Rice’s case, I want to make a few things clear. No one from the NFL ever asked me for the inside-elevator video,” the official said Thursday. “I mailed it anonymously to Jeff Miller because he’s their head of security. I attached a note saying: ‘Ray Rice elevator video. You have to see it. It’s terrible.’ I provided a number for a disposable cellphone and asked for confirmation that it was received. I knew there was a possibility Mr. Miller may not get the video, but I hoped it would land in the right hands.”
Miller, in London preparing for the Raiders-Dolphins game Sunday, issued a statement to the AP Thursday night through an NFL spokesman.
“I unequivocally deny that I received at any time a copy of the video, and I had not watched it until it was made public on September 8,” he said.
Miller joined the league in 2008 as director of strategic security and was promoted to chief security officer in April 2011. Before joining the NFL, Miller spent nearly six years as the commissioner of the Pennsylvania State Police. He worked for the state police for 24 years.
At the NFL, Miller’s responsibilities include overseeing investigative programs and services. He is also in charge of event security and game integrity. When players get arrested, the NFL’s corps of investigators rarely get involved, leaving that to local law enforcement. The league’s security operatives gather court documents and police reports available to the public, but don’t ordinarily interview witnesses or gather evidence independently.
It remains unclear what happened to the video once it arrived at league offices. There are two NFL executives named Jeffrey Miller, but the law enforcement official didn’t know that, and intended it to go to the chief of security. NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said the other Jeffrey Miller — who is the senior vice president of health and safety policy — did not report receiving the video.
The law enforcement official said he wanted to make sure the NFL had the video before deciding on Rice’s punishment.
“My intention wasn’t to bring down Commissioner Goodell or anyone else at the NFL,” he said.
He said he didn’t know the identity of the woman who left him the voicemail. He said he chose Miller because of his law enforcement background, even though he didn’t know him personally.
Rice, a former Pro Bowl running back for the Baltimore Ravens, was arrested in Atlantic City on an assault charge for hitting Janay Palmer in February. A police summons stated that Rice had struck Palmer with his hand, knocking her unconscious. Rice has been accepted into New Jersey’s pretrial intervention program, which enabled him to avoid jail time and could result in having the charge expunged from his record.
Initially, Goodell suspended Rice — who has since married Palmer — for two games. After criticism, Goodell announced new stiffer penalties for future domestic violence cases. After video of the punch in the casino elevator was released, the Ravens cut Rice and Goodell suspended him indefinitely.
League and Ravens officials said they requested the video from law enforcement but were denied. ESPN and others have reported that the Ravens had a detailed description of the video shortly after Rice was arrested.
After the AP reported that the video was sent to NFL headquarters, Goodell announced that former FBI Director Robert Mueller would lead an internal investigation. That probe is ongoing, and there is no timetable for its completion.
The law enforcement official said he does not want to speak to NFL investigators, and Mueller, who is now in private practice with a Washington law firm with deep ties to the NFL, has no subpoena power. “I know nothing else about this case,” the official said.
Former FBI Chief of Staff Aaron Zebley, who is working with Mueller on the investigation, didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment.