Atlantic County

NFL Suspends Ray Rice Indefinitely After Assault Caught on Video

The NFL suspended former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice Monday after newly released surveillance video appeared to show him assaulting his then-fiancee in an elevator at an Atlantic City hotel.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced Rice's indefinite suspension Monday afternoon, just after the Ravens tweeted that they had terminated his contract. Ravens head coach John Harbaugh didn't get in to details but said he spoke to Rice after the decision to cut him was made.

“When someone that you care about does wrong and is faced with the consequences of doing wrong, and rightfully so, it’s tough, it is hurtful," Harbaugh said Monday evening. "My pain is for both of them as a couple."

Originally Rice had been given only a two-game suspension — a punishment that was widely criticized and led to a national debate over how the NFL handles cases of domestic violence.

Goodell later increased the penalties on players for cases of domestic violence, saying in a letter and memo sent to all 32 team owners that, in the Rice case, he "didn't get it right."

The security video, which was obtained by TMZ Sports, shows Rice and his then-fiancee, Janay Palmer, entering an elevator at the now-shuttered Revel Casino on Feb. 15. 

Once the elevator doors close, Palmer appears to lunge at Rice before he punches her in the face twice. The second blow causes Palmer to hit her head on the handrail of the elevator, sending her crumpling to the floor.

As she lies motionless, Rice is then seen dragging her limp body along the floor as he leaves the elevator, a scene that has been shown repeatedly since news broke of the running back's arrest.

"Something we saw for the first time today, all of us," Harbaugh said. "It changed things, of course."

On Monday, President Barack Obama commented on Rice’s suspension from the league.

"The president is the father of two daughters, and like any American, he believes that domestic violence is contemptible and unacceptable in a civilized society," White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said after speaking with Obama. "Hitting a woman is not something a real man does, and that's true whether or not an act of violence happens in the public eye, or, far too often, behind closed doors. Stopping domestic violence is something that's bigger than football, and all of us have a responsibility to put a stop to it."

Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley called the video "horrible, shocking and reprehensible" in a statement released Monday afternoon. He asked for support for House of Ruth in preventing domestic violence.

House of Ruth released a statement supporting the decisions by the Ravens and NFL.

"The video from the Ray Rice elevator incident simply confirms what we already knew occurred that night. It’s difficult to watch intimate partner violence as it happens. It must have been even more difficult for Janay Rice to have experienced it. One in four women will be in a physically violent intimate relationship at some point in her life, and as a community we must all have zero tolerance for it wherever it exists."

The video from inside the elevator "was not made available" during their investigation, a spokesperson for the NFL said, adding that no one from their office had seen it before it was released by TMZ.

Originally, Rice and Palmer were each charged with simple assault, but the Atlantic County prosecutor's office reviewed the case and dropped the charge against Palmer.

A grand jury lodged the more serious charge of aggravated assault against Rice in March. He has since received initial approval to enter a pretrial intervention program that could result in dismissal of the assault charge against him.

The couple married a day after Rice was indicted.

In July, the NFL announced that Rice would be subject to a two-game suspension in connection with the elevator assault, a punishment that was met with outrage given the nature of the incident. Rice was also fined more than $500,000, reported.

Last month, Goodell announced players will now be subject to a six-week suspension for a first domestic violence offense and banishment from the league for a second.

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