Carolina Panthers Pro Bowl defensive end Greg Hardy was released on bond Wednesday, but not before a Mecklenburg County judge described him as a potential threat to the girlfriend he’s accused of beating up.
Hardy, 25, an NFL Pro-Bowler last season, was arrested Tuesday on misdemeanor charges of assault on a female and communicating a threat.
He walked out of the Mecklenburg County Jail this morning wearing a black sunglasses, a black tank top and black trousers.
The arrest warrants accuse the Panther lineman of throwing girlfriend Nicole Holder to the floor and into a bathtub, slamming her against a Futon and “strangling” during an argument at his home.
Hardy also said he would kill her, the warrant said, a threat “made in a manner and under circumstances which would cause a reasonable person to believe that the threat was likely to be carried out.”
Holder filed for a restraining order against Hardy on Wednesday, according to public records. In her complaint, she accuses Hardy of throwing her on a couch covered “in assault weapons and/or shotguns.”
She said he bragged that all of the assault weapons were loaded. As part of the assault, she said Hardy “threatened to shoot me if I went to the media or reported his assaults to anyone.”
She said Hardy’s cache of 25-30 firearms includes “AK-47s, automatic-looking weapons, shotguns, rifles and pistols.”
The confrontation occurred during an early morning “after party” at Hardy’s high-rise residence in uptown Charlotte. District Judge Becky Thorne Tin noted in court Wednesday morning that both Hardy and Holder were intoxicated at the time.
Hardy’s attorney, Chris Fialko, told Tin that the events described in the warrant didn’t happen. He said Holder attacked Hardy and a friend, identified as Sammy Curtis, and that Hardy called 911 after Holder wouldn’t leave his home.
Fialko also said Holder called Curtis more than a dozen times Tuesday trying to get in touch with Hardy.
Tin, citing the nature of the allegations along with descriptions of “large areas of bruising and swelling” on Holder’s back, set bonds of $15,000 on the assault charge and $2,000 on the threat. She added that the accusations “raise concerns about the safety of (Holder).”
She also warned Hardy not to have any contact with Holder, even if she called him, and ordered him to attend three Alcoholics Anonymous meetings each week. Hardy’s next court appearance was tentatively scheduled for June 27.
When Tin asked Hardy if he understood the terms of his release, the 6-foot-4, 290-pound lineman, wearing an orange inmate jumpsuit, responded quietly, “Yes, ma’am.”
Holder did not attend the hearing, but appeared in the corridor outside the courtroom afterward, with a woman later identified as a sister. She was wearing a dress, large sunglasses and had her arm in a sling. Her attorney, Stephen Goodwin of Matthews, said Holder was “torn up” about the incident and was in no condition to talk.
He said Holder had been injured “head to toe” and had gone to the emergency room afterward. Her worst injury, he said, had been to an elbow.
Goodwin also said Curtis held Holder down while Hardy made the 911 call, said to have lasted about five minutes.
“My client was not the aggressor by a long shot,” Goodwin said after the hearing. “She weighs less than 120 pounds. Mr. Hardy (is an) All-Pro (defensive end), strong, big.
“... It was a fight. He threw her around the room.”
Hardy’s agent Drew Rosenhaus, who was sitting with Curtis when deputies led his client into the courtroom, declined comment.
Documents say Hardy and Holder had been dating since last September. She is a waitress at an EpiCentre restaurant.
Hardy was booked Tuesday afternoon when he turned himself in to police, according to a police statement. According to the incident report, police responded to a call around 4:18 a.m. Tuesday at Ivey’s, an upscale condominium building in the 100 block of North Tryon Street. Holder told police she and Hardy had been in a relationship since September.
The Panthers, who will pay Hardy $13.1 million in the coming year, expressed disappointment upon hearing of the incident. Wednesday, team President Danny Morrison said there was no update on the Hardy case and the Panthers are still investigating.
As the Panthers were preparing to make Hardy one of the team’s highest-paid players this offseason, there were concerns among team officials about Hardy’s off-the-field behavior. Those concerns had followed Hardy since college at Mississippi, but until Tuesday, Hardy’s criminal record included only traffic violations.
Hardy was jailed overnight Tuesday. A sheriff’s office spokeswoman said it’s typical in domestic violence cases for suspects to be denied bond for at least a 24-hour “cooling-off period.”
After Hardy, who is 6-foot-4 and 290 pounds, tied a Carolina franchise record with 15 sacks last season and went to his first Pro Bowl, the Panthers placed the franchise tag on him, a designation under the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement that guarantees him a contract worth $13.1 million this season.
The Panthers said in February they would continue to work with Hardy on a long-term deal, although there have been no indications the two sides are close to an agreement.
Carolina agreed recently to give Hardy as much as $1.3 million – 10 percent of his franchise tag contract – if he attends all of the team’s voluntary offseason workouts, which are ongoing.
The Panthers have long been an organization with a heightened concern for their players’ off-the-field issues, and that is no different for Hardy as he negotiates a long-term second contract.
Hardy, who transforms into his alter ego “the Kraken” on the field, has had several off-the-field incidents that have troubled the Panthers, though this is his first known arrest.
The Panthers selected Hardy in the sixth round of the 2010 draft after the defensive end, considered an early- to mid-round pick, fell down teams’ draft boards because of character questions. He was suspended for two games at the University of Mississippi after missing team meetings and violating team rules.
Hardy told Sports Illustrated he was kicked off the team but was later reinstated.
Tyrone Nix, former defensive coordinator at Mississippi, told the Observer that Hardy never had any incidents involving violence toward women in college.
“It surprises me,” Nix said of the charges. “I’m sure the truth will come out in the end. And Greg has always been a guy of high character, as far as respect to others.”
In 2011, Hardy was involved in a motorcycle accident that left him with a concussion and severe abrasions and kept him out of most of the Panthers’ preseason activities. The following summer, he tweeted a photo of a Bentley speedometer that appeared to show he was driving more than 100 mph.
He was benched for the start of Carolina’s Week 13 win against Tampa Bay in 2013 after he was late to a team meeting. Hardy was fined by the team and apologized to coach Ron Rivera.
Hardy’s prior criminal record consists of traffic violations. Charges of no operator’s license, a window tinting violation and driving without registration were dismissed in 2011. Hardy was charged with speeding in July 2011, going 86 mph in a 65 mph zone. That charge was lowered to 74 mph and waived by the clerk.
In October 2012, Hardy was charged with going 54 mph in a 35 mph zone. He received a prayer for judgment. A third speeding charge came in November 2013 when he was charged with doing 52 mph in a 35 mph zone. That charge was reduced to 40 mph and the charge was waived in March.
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