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Tampa Bay Buccaneer Aqib Talib and his mother face charges in Texas shooting

Police in Garland, Texas, say cornerback Aqib Talib physically assaulted and then fired shots at his sister’s boyfriend, who was not injured.

CHRIS ZUPPA | Times

Police in Garland, Texas, say cornerback Aqib Talib physically assaulted and then fired shots at his sister’s boyfriend, who was not injured.

TAMPA — Texas police obtained felony arrest warrants Tuesday for Bucs cornerback Aqib Talib and his mother in connection with a shooting in Garland, Texas, last week.

Talib, 25, will be charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, a second-degree felony punishable by two to 20 years in prison. His bail was set at $25,000.

Talib, considered one of the team's best defensive players, is expected to surrender this week, Garland Police spokesman Joe Harn said.

Talib's arrest could jeopardize his career with the Buccaneers, or any other National Football League team. He has had several off-the-field incidents since being chosen in the first round of the 2008 draft and was suspended by the league for one game last season after being accused of punching a St. Petersburg cab driver in 2009.

"We are deeply troubled by the serious charges filed against Aqib Talib," Bucs general manager Mark Dominik said in a statement. "Due to current labor circumstances, we will withhold any further comment or action."

Because of the current work stoppage in the NFL, teams are prohibited from contacting players or making transactions, including releasing players. However, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said last week the league's player code of conduct will cover transgressions that occur during the lockout and be enforced when a new labor agreement is reached.

Talib's mother, Okolo, turned herself in Tuesday morning and was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. She was also charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm, based on a previous conviction. Bail was set at $25,000 for the assault charge and $5,000 for the possession charge.

The arrest of Talib and his mother stems from their roles in a domestic disturbance March 21 involving his sister, Saran, 43, and her boyfriend, Shannon Billings, police said.

Police said they arrived in the 900 block of Green Pond Drive in Garland, a Dallas suburb, at 7:30 p.m. after a 911 caller reported fighting, including gunshots. Police said they found Billings, 40, alone outside his residence.

According to a report Monday in the Dallas Observer, which cited the Garland police and two unnamed sources familiar with the case, Talib attempted to pistol-whip Billings with a handgun, which was dropped in the struggle. Billings picked it up and began running. Okolo produced another handgun and fired at least three times before Aqib used it to fire twice more at Billings, according to the report.

Harn, the police spokesman, said information detectives gathered at the scene and in follow-up investigations led police to conclude Aqib physically assaulted and then fired shots at Billings, who was not injured.

Billings, who is a registered sex offender in Texas, later was taken into custody and charged with aggravated assault with bodily injury and interference with an emergency phone call, relating to an incident at his address earlier in the day.

In Texas, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon is a very serious charge, said lawyer Kevin Ross of the Dallas criminal defense firm Sorrels, Udashen & Anton.

Though Talib could be eligible for community-control probation instead of prison if he has no prior felony offenses, Ross said, many factors play into that decision and "it would be more difficult if a firearm is actually discharged at an individual."

Probation for a second-degree felony runs up to 10 years. For Talib to keep playing for the Bucs during that time if that was a penalty he received, Florida authorities would have to agree to supervise his community control. Officials for the Florida Department of Corrections could not be reached for comment as to whether they would agree to supervise a Texas probationer.

The arrest warrant is the first step in criminal proceedings, Ross said. The Dallas County state attorney's office will have to decide whether the evidence is sufficient to take the case to a grand jury to try to get an indictment.

Harn estimated that it would take four to six weeks for a grand jury to hear the case against Talib.

Talib's talent never has been in question, but the Bucs, under the direction of former coach Jon Gruden and former general manager Bruce Allen, may have ignored numerous red flags before deciding to draft him.

Talib's off-field problems surfaced while he was a standout defensive back at Berkner High School in Richardson, Texas. Talib was arrested in April 2004 for burglary, according to Dallas County court records, but the charge was reduced to a misdemeanor, and Talib received two years of probation.

During interviews with teams at the NFL scouting combine in 2008, Talib said he tested positive for marijuana three times while playing at the University of Kansas, according to the magazine Pro Football Weekly.

From the start of his pro career, Talib has had difficulty controlling his emotions, resulting in significant fines from the Bucs and last year's one-game suspension. Bucs coach Raheem Morris has called Talib his "wild child."

Shortly after being drafted, Talib got into a fight with then-teammate Cory Boyd at the NFL's rookie symposium. In May 2009, Talib inadvertently hit former Bucs cornerback Torrie Cox in the face with a helmet, which he was swinging at left tackle Donald Penn during an argument. Cox required stitches to close a cut.

Last year, Talib agreed to a deal with prosecutors to resolve a battery charge after he was accused of hitting St. Petersburg cab driver David Duggan while Talib was a passenger in the cab. He was ordered to perform community service and attend anger management classes. He also reached an undisclosed financial settlement with Duggan.

Despite missing five games last year, the last four with a hip injury, Talib was named the NFL alumni's defensive back of the year after recording six interceptions, giving him 15 in his three-year career.

Staff writers Stephen Nohlgren, Stephen F. Holder and Times Senior Researcher John Martin contributed to this report.

Tampa Bay Buccaneer Aqib Talib and his mother face charges in Texas shooting 03/29/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 29, 2011 11:45pm]
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