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Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Aqib Talib 'vigorously denies' shooting allegations through attorney

Bucs cornerback Aqib Talib “vigorously denies” the allegations related to the shooting incident last week.

CHRIS ZUPPA | Times

Bucs cornerback Aqib Talib “vigorously denies” the allegations related to the shooting incident last week.

DALLAS — Aqib Talib had his attorneys play a little defense for him Thursday.

Talib "vigorously" denied allegations that he fired a handgun last week during a shooting incident in Texas that led to his arrest, said Pittsburgh sports attorney Jay Reisinger and Dallas criminal attorney Frank Perez, who issued a statement on behalf of the 25-year-old Bucs cornerback.

"On March 30, 2011, Aqib Talib voluntarily reported to law-enforcement authorities in Dallas County, Texas, to address certain charges that have been lodged against him," the statement said. "It is important to note that these charges are only allegations, allegations that Aqib vigorously denies."

Since Garland police obtained a felony arrest warrant for Talib on Tuesday, he and his representatives had declined comment.

Talib surrendered to police Wednesday on charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and was released after posting $25,000 bail.

Police say Talib tried to pistol whip his sister's boyfriend Shannon Billings, 40, with a 9mm handgun, which slipped out of his hand in the struggle and jammed after striking a fence.

Talib's mother, Okolo, 58, arrived in her vehicle and began shooting at Billings, who fled on foot, according to the arrest warrant. Police say that's when Talib took his mother's handgun and fired several shots at Billings, who was not injured.

Okolo Talib also was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, a second-degree felony that carries a sentence of two to 25 years in prison. She received an additional charge of felon in possession of a firearm and was released after posting $30,000 bail.

One of Talib's coaches at Kansas said Talib told him earlier this week that only his mother pulled the trigger.

The arrest could jeopardize Talib's NFL career.

Considered one of the Bucs' best defensive players, Talib was suspended one game last season by the league for punching a St. Petersburg cab driver in 2009.

Teams cannot contact players or make a transaction during the current work stoppage, but NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said the player-conduct policy will be enforced when a new agreement between the owners and players is in place.

Bucs general manager Mark Dominik has only said the team is "deeply disturbed" by the charges.

Talib's attorneys said he was optimistic the case will be resolved in his favor.

"Aqib is confident that once all of the facts are known, this matter will be resolved favorably and in an expeditious fashion," the statement said. "Aqib remains very committed to his family and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers organization. Given the sensitive nature of this matter, we cannot comment any further."

Since the March 21 incident, Talib has been busy putting together a defense team. Reisinger has helped advise baseball players Alex Rodriguez, Andy Pettitte and Sammy Sosa.

In addition to retaining Perez, Talib hired a Dallas private detective to interview witnesses.

Thursday's statement by Talib's attorneys was critical of media reports after the incident.

"Given that the charges are only allegations, we are deeply troubled that certain members of the media have jumped to unfair conclusions concerning Aqib," the statement said.

According to the arrest warrant, detectives believe Talib and his mother fired shots at Billings about 7:30 p.m. March 21, startling the neighborhood of two-story, brick houses in the 900 block of Green Pond Drive in the Dallas suburb of Garland.

Billings ran into a wooded area, "fearing for his life." When he emerged, Aqib and Okolo were gone, according to the warrant.

Billings remains in the Dallas County jail on $2,500 bond after being charged with aggravated assault and interfering with an emergency call earlier in the day March 21.

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.

Billings declined a written request by the St. Petersburg Times to be interviewed.

Rick Stroud can be reached at stroud@sptimes.com

Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Aqib Talib 'vigorously denies' shooting allegations through attorney 03/31/11 [Last modified: Thursday, March 31, 2011 8:48pm]
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