Roger Goodell is currently leading the world in putting an end to all domestic violence, but his security team is still free to mix it up with paparazzi in the streets of Manhattan. Last week there was an altercation that resulted in felony assault charges being filed just two days before Goodell’s Baghdad Bob-worthy press conference on the Ray Rice situation.
On one side you have Roger Goodell’s head of NFL security and personal bodyguard, and on the other you have an aggressive freelance photographer with a rap sheet that includes a conviction for second-degree manslaughter. This is basically the Dolphins vs. Raiders London game of street fights and I can’t feel good about rooting for anyone involved.
J.B. Nicholas is a photographer who works at times for the Daily News, and he was apparently just minding his own business stalking Roger Goodell and trying to follow him home by biking alongside his Cadillac Escalade. This didn’t sit so well with Goodell’s driver according to Joshua Holland, a witness who allegedly saw the whole thing.
“I saw the driver get out of his car very aggressively, grab the photographer, and shout ‘You’re under arrest, I’m a policeman!'” says Joshua Holland, who witnessed the encounter while he was walking his dog.
“The driver pulled the photographer off his bike, wrestled him to the ground in the median, and punched him in the face once. Then he was on top of him holding him down with an arm bar, a forearm jammed into his neck,” Holland says. “He was freaking out and shouting ‘I’m a cop! I’m a cop!’ I was like, does this guy have a gun? I was a little worried about that.”
According to Nicholas, the driver of the SUV was Thomas Crowe, Goodell’s Head of Security at the NFL’s New York office. Nicholas says that after the beating him, Crowe put him in a chokehold but stopped just before he lost consciousness.
It’s important to take Nicholas’ account with a shitload of salt. In addition to that pesky manslaughter conviction he has also been charged in the past with obstructing governmental administration after getting in the way of working EMTs so that he could take pictures. Also, he was the one who ended up being charged by police:
The police arrived and charged Nicholas with second degree assault, a felony, and third degree assault and criminal mischief, both misdemeanors. According to the criminal complaint, Nicholas punched the SUV driver in the face enough to cause swelling and redness, threw his bike at the driver and hit his knee, requiring treatment at a hospital, and keyed the SUV, causing more than $250 in damages.
On one hand I don’t approve of Nicholas’ bike-throwing policy, but on the other I do agree with his Goodell’s car-keying policy.
All of the witnesses that Gothamist interviewed supported Nicholas’ story that Crowe was the aggressor, but the police apparently disregarded many of their statements. This has already been a banner year for the totally necessary law-enforcement branch of the NFL what with misplaced elevator tapes and all, so no matter the outcome Goodell can’t be happy to have their names in the press again.