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Battery charge dropped against ex-NFL player Darren Hambrick

Darren Hambrick, 32, had faced a felony charge of domestic battery.

Darren Hambrick, 32, had faced a felony charge of domestic battery.

DADE CITY — The sheriff's deputy said he saw marks around the victim's neck, wrists, forearms and thigh. But it was the loud pop in her left knee that left her in such pain that she had to go to a hospital.

The man who drove her there, the victim said, was also the man who she said beat her up: former NFL linebacker Darren Hambrick.

Hambrick, 32, was arrested that day, Feb. 17, outside Florida Hospital Zephyrhills on a felony charge of domestic battery.

But the Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney's Office dropped the charge March 14 because the victim changed her story soon after the incident and might make for an uncooperative witness in a trial.

"She said it was a big mistake," Assistant State Attorney Manny Garcia said Thursday. "Nothing happened."

The victim, Ileana Quiles, 35, said Hambrick has been her boyfriend for 11 years and that they live together as a family at their Coit Road home in Lacoochee. They're also engaged, according to a Pasco County Sheriff's Office report.

But after the arrest of Hambrick — he was booked into the county jail under his legal name of Darren Grant — she quickly changed her story.

Records show that Quiles asked a judge on March 10 to lift a court order barring Hambrick from having contact with her. The judge granted her request.

Quiles told the judge "she's not afraid of him," according to Garcia.

But even before that, Quiles was already working to get the case against Hambrick dropped.

"This case hadn't even come into our office yet," Garcia said, "and she was already calling, saying it was a mistake."

According to a sheriff's report about the incident, Quiles at first told deputies that Hambrick had acted "aggressively" toward her, making her feel "uncomfortable."

She decided to leave, to spend the night at her father's house, the report said, enraging Hambrick. That's when he battered her, the report said.

But Hambrick told deputies that the injuries were the result of consensual "rough sex." He said Quiles was probably angered because her knee was injured in the process.

Had the state not dropped the felony charge, it could have violated Hambrick's probation. In January, he agreed to serve six months of probation for punching two men in 2006 at the Trilacoochee nightclub Rumors.

Darren and younger brother Troy Hambrick helped lead the Pasco High School Pirates to a state football championship in 1992, and both went on to play in the NFL.

But now Troy Hambrick is facing up to 10 years in federal prison after pleading guilty in February to federal drug charges. His sentencing is set for May 13.

Jamal Thalji can be reached at thalji@sptimes.com or (727) 869-6236.

Battery charge dropped against ex-NFL player Darren Hambrick 03/20/08 [Last modified: Sunday, March 23, 2008 6:06pm]

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