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Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Aqib Talib indicted for aggravated assault with deadly weapon

DANIEL WALLACE   |   Times

DANIEL WALLACE | Times

The mother of Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Aqib Talib admitted to police in an interview that it "could've been Aqib" who fired a handgun at his sister's boyfriend during a domestic dispute in March near Dallas.

That information was part of a three-page arrest affidavit that a Dallas County grand jury used Friday to indict Talib and his mother on charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

The second-degree felony carries a maximum sentence of up to 20 years in prison. The indictment could also jeopardize Talib's career. Despite the ongoing labor dispute between the NFL owners and players, league Commissioner Roger Goodell has said that players will be held accountable to the league's code of conduct once the two sides reach a contract agreement.

Police say that Talib pointed a 9mm handgun at the head of Shannon Billings, the live-in boyfriend of his sister, Saran Talib. He then attempted to pistol-whip Billings before the gun was lost in the struggle, striking a fence and jamming.

That's when police say Talib's mother, Okolo, arrived at the scene and fired several shots at Billings with a .380-caliber Ruger. At some point, Aqib Talib gained possession of his mother's gun and fired two shots at Billings, according to documents released Friday. None of the shots hit Billings.

Aqib Talib, 25, is a former first-round pick from Kansas and arguably Tampa Bay's best defensive player. He led the team in interceptions last season with six.

Talib, who was suspended one game last season for an incident involving a St. Petersburg cab driver in 2009, apparently was aware of his predicament when he yelled, "you're going to make me throw away my career,'' as he attempted to pistol whip Billings, according to an arrest affidavit.

Talib and his mother gave conflicting statements about how as many as five shots were fired during an altercation in the quiet Dallas suburb of Garland on March 21.

In an interview with detectives four days after the shooting, Okolo Talib, 58, may have provided police with the most incriminating evidence against her son. She said after Talib took the gun from her, "she did hear a shot and eventually admitted it could've been Aqib who shot," according to the affidavit.

She also said that after Aqib "took the gun from her, he chased after Billings with the gun.''

Through his attorneys, Aqib Talib has denied the charges. In fact, he told police that he had left his 9mm handgun at his sister's house a month or two earlier. He said he saw Billings with the weapon when he drove up to the brick house.

Billings, who said he obtained the 9mm from Talib in the struggle, eventually led police to the handgun, which he had thrown in a trash can behind his house.

The .380 handgun used by Okolo also is registered to Aqib Talib, according to documents released Friday.

Jay K. Reisinger, Aqib Talib's Pittsburgh-based attorney, said he's confident the matter will be resolved in Talib's favor once all the evidence is presented.

"It is important to note that the indictment is merely a formal accusation, and that Mr. Talib has not been convicted of any crime with respect to this matter,'' Reisinger said in the statement.

"The grand jury was not privy to a number of important facts. We are very confident that once we have the opportunity to present all of the facts, this matter will be resolved in Mr. Talib's favor. Aqib looks forward to putting this matter behind him and returning to the game of football.''

Reisinger declined further comment. Talib was unavailable for comment Friday.

However, in interviews with police, Aqib Talib gave several conflicting statements, but maintained it was Billings who pointed the gun at him.

Talib said his mother used another gun to fire several shots at Billings' feet. When Talib attempted to take the gun away from her, he said his mother fired "two more shots in the air.''

But investigators recovered at least one shell casing from the .380 in the driveway of a house across the street from Saran Talib, supporting Billings' claim that he was chased into a wooded area by Aqib Talib, who fired shots at him.

Talib has been free since posting $25,000 bail. Okolo Talib received an additional charge of being a felon in possession of a firearm and was released after posting a total of $30,000 bail.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Aqib Talib indicted for aggravated assault with deadly weapon 05/27/11 [Last modified: Sunday, May 29, 2011 6:04pm]
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