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Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Aqib Talib 'person of interest' after shots fired in Texas incident

TAMPA

Police in Texas describe Bucs cornerback Aqib Talib as "a person of interest" in their investigation of a domestic disturbance last week in which shots were fired.

No arrest has been made, but Garland, Texas, police spokesman Joe Harn said the department is determining whether Talib should be charged in connection with his role in an incident March 21 involving his sister and her boyfriend.

"I will confirm he is a person of interest," Harn told the St. Petersburg Times on Monday. "This is still an open case. Once the detectives have decided, probably later this week, if there are charges that need to be brought against him or not, because of the high-profile interest in this case, we'll have an announcement."

Talib, 25, was suspended one game last season for assaulting a St. Petersburg cab driver in 2009 and could face further sanctions from the NFL from his involvement in the incident.

Players are subject to the league's personal-conduct code during the owners' lockout of players, commissioner Roger Goodell said last week.

The Bucs are not permitted to have contact with players or their representatives during the work stoppage. Bucs coach Raheem Morris declined comment while at a charitable event in Valrico.

According to a blog on the website of the Dallas Observer, the altercation occurred a week ago near the home of Talib's sister, Saran, 43, in the 900 block of Green Pond Drive in Garland. Talib reportedly attempted to pistol-whip her boyfriend, Shannon Billings. After a struggle, Talib used the handgun belonging to his mother, Okolo, to fire several shots at Billings, who fled on foot and was not injured, police said.

Police were called by neighbors reporting a domestic dispute. Harn said Monday that Billings, 40, was taken into custody and arrested two days later on an unrelated charge.

Dallas County jail records indicate that Billings was arrested on charges of assault with bodily injury and interfering with an emergency call. Billings remains in jail after failing to post $2,500 bail.

Billings is a registered sex offender with the Texas Department of Public Safety. In 1998, when he was 27, he was convicted of sexual assault on a 14-year-old girl and served probation.

Talib lives in north Dallas. He went to his sister's home about 7:30 p.m. and found her arguing with Billings, police said. Saran had called her mother for help, and police were notified by neighbors of three shots fired at a black man by a black woman.

Billings told police Talib brandished a handgun and attempted to strike him in the face with it. During the skirmish, Talib dropped the gun and Billings picked it up and began running. Okolo then produced a gun and fired three shots toward him. Billings told police Talib took Okolo's gun, said, "I'll shoot him," and fired at least two shots before Billings safely ducked into nearby woods. The Observer reported that witnesses corroborated Billings' story.

Harn declined to confirm or deny details in the Observer's story but said, "I don't know where (the Observer) got all its information."

Supremely talented but troubled, Talib has been dogged by personal-conduct issues that followed him to the University of Kansas and contributed to his falling in the 2008 NFL draft. He was picked 20th overall by Tampa Bay.

Talib was named the NFL Alumni's defensive back of the year in 2010.

Talib has had difficulty controlling his emotions, resulting in significant fines from the Bucs and one league suspension. 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.

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. He was ordered to perform community service hours and attend anger management classes and reached an undisclosed financial settlement with Duggan. Talib received a one-game suspension from the NFL last season for the 2009 incident.

Last week's shooting incident in Texas could draw the attention of Goodell.

"The personal-conduct policy continues," Goodell said at last week's owners meetings. "It applies to everybody in the league. I don't know how it would apply to the players under this circumstance (the lockout), but it's something that I feel strongly about, that we owe to our fans."

It's expected that the league will administer discipline after the lockout for violations that occur during the work stoppage.

Times staff writer Stephen F. Holder and Times senior news researcher John Martin contributed to this report.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Aqib Talib 'person of interest' after shots fired in Texas incident 03/28/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 29, 2011 7:55am]
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