The attorney for Ray Rice suggested that the Ravens running back retaliated after being struck first by his then-fiancee during a domestic-violence incident in February.
Philadelphia lawyer Michael Diamondstein, who helped Rice obtain approval for a diversionary program that will allow him to avoid jail time and offer the chance to have his record cleared in a year, appeared to give a detailed "hypothetical" account of what transpired at the Revel Casino in Atlantic City, N.J., during a radio interview with Matthew Hammond of 97.3 ESPN-FM in New Jersey.
“This is just a complete hypothetical,” Diamondstein said. "Let’s assume, for the sake of argument, rather than enter into the pretrial diversionary program that he entered into, we hypothetically move forward on the case. Hypothetically, we litigate 100 motions, and the video comes out and the video shows — hypothetically speaking now, hypothetically speaking — shows that Ray wasn’t the first person that hit and Ray was getting repeatedly hit, but just Ray hit harder, fired one back and hit harder.
"Hypothetically speaking, and he gets found not guilty. Is that result somehow better? Is it better for the public? Is it better for the Ravens? Is it better for Ray? Is it better for Janay [Rice]?”
According to Atlantic City police, who based their case on video surveillance, including a portion of a video that was leaked online and shows Rice dragging his unresponsive then-fiancee out of the elevator, the couple hit each other with their hands during a physical altercation.
Both Janay Palmer, who's now Janay Rice, and Ray Rice initially were charged with simple assault-domestic violence. Her charge was later dismissed by prosecutors, and Rice's case was upgraded to the more serious charge of felony aggravated assault after it was reviewed.
"His wife was arrested initially as well," Diamondstein said. "And the prosecutors, for whatever reasons — I can't speak for the prosecution — they decided to drop the charges against Janay and simply go prosecute Ray."
Diamondstein emphasized that Rice, who still could face a multigame suspension from the NFL under its personal-conduct policy, shouldn't be judged negatively for entering the pretrial diversionary program.
"I don't think the fact that he entered into a pretrial diversionary program should be something that anybody looks at negatively," Diamondstein said. "There was an issue between him and his wife that night; he's accepted responsibility for his role in it. He's a good person. He's a good player.
"As he said during the press conference, he's going to do what he can to move forward and try to show everyone that the incident that night was an aberration of his behavior. I can tell you that Ray's choice, in my opinion, was the smart choice, was the just choice. I think it puts this matter behind him not only for his NFL career, but it was the right choice for his family as well."
Further explaining Rice's decision not to take his chances at trial — where the video footage likely could have been submitted as evidence, the events on the full video could have been detailed in testimony by police, or the couple could have testified on the witness stand — Diamondstein said Rice chose not to put his family through the scrutiny of the legal process.
"One thing that I think people need to remember is this wasn't an incident between Ray and some random person that he just met," Diamondstein said. "This was an incident between him and his wife, a woman he's loved for years and years, a woman he has a child with and a woman he's going to spend the rest of his life with. So it's not like a man of Ray's character is going to then bash his wife in the media and say: 'Well, she did this, so I did this, so I did this and she did this.' "
Rice and his wife apologized during a Friday news conference, though he did not offer a direct public apology to her.
"I do deeply regret the role that I played in the incident that night, but I can say that I am happy that we continue to work through it together, and we are continuing to strengthen our relationship and our marriage and do what we have to do for not only ourselves collectively, but individually, and working on being better parents for [2-year-old daughter] Rayven and continue to be good role models for the community like we were doing before this," Janay Rice said. "I love Ray, and I know that he will continue to prove himself to not only you all, but the community, and I know he will gain your respect back in due time."
Diamondstein was asked why Janay Rice appeared alongside her husband during the news conference.
"I really can't answer that question. Not trying to be short with you," Diamondstein said. "That press conference is something that was done with Ray and Janay and the Ravens. I wasn't a part of that."