Girlfriend says Celtics guard Jabari Bird choked her a dozen times
An argument over “trust issues” led Boston Celtics guard Jabari Bird to allegedly choke his girlfriend a dozen times, kick her repeatedly, and hold her against her will during a four-hour ordeal last Friday that ended when Bird began seizing up on his floor, court records show.
The allegations were laid out in a legal filing made public Thursday after Bird, 24, was arraigned in Brighton Municipal Court on charges including kidnapping and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon.
The weapon in question was a wall in his Brighton apartment, which he allegedly threw his girlfriend against during the incident, according to a Boston police report.
A not guilty plea was entered on Bird’s behalf, and he posted $50,000 bail. He left court without commenting and climbed into a sport utility vehicle with his agent.
Bird later released a statement saying he was stepping away from the team.
“I’m taking some time away from the team as I deal with my legal and medical issues,” Bird said. “I apologize to my family, the Celtics organization, my teammates, the fans and the NBA for the unnecessary distraction that I have caused. The information that has been released does not tell the full story. I do not condone violence against women. I am hopeful that in due time and process, I will be able to regain everyone’s trust.”
A Boston police report said the alleged victim, a student athlete at a local college, told a teammate and an assistant coach about the attack on Friday evening, and campus police were later called.
She sought treatment at a Boston hospital for injuries including cuts on her neck, bruising on her ear, and internal bleeding behind her left ear, records show.
The woman told Boston police that she and Bird, who battles “anxiety issues,” began arguing in his apartment around 1 p.m. Friday over trust issues Bird was having with her.
She alleged that he launched into a violent, lengthy attack, choking her approximately 12 times and releasing her neck whenever she began to go limp, allowing her to catch her breath before resuming the assault.
Eventually, the woman told police, she passed out and woke up under Bird’s bed. He allegedly began kicking her when she poked her head out from under the bed. At one point he grabbed her ankles and dragged her away from the door to prevent her from leaving, the report said.
The encounter took an abrupt turn when Bird started displaying “seizure like” symptoms and fell to the ground, according to legal filings. His girlfriend “picked him off the ground” and put Bird on a bed, where he fell asleep, the report said. She then left the apartment.
Police also noted that Celtics trainer Art Horne had called 911 around 9:40 p.m. Friday, after he received a text message from the woman. She had texted Horne a screenshot of Bird’s threat to kill himself if she didn’t return to the apartment, the report said.
Horne went to Bird’s residence to check on him and called 911, the report said.
The trainer’s name was partially redacted but clearly visible in the copies of the report made public Thursday.
In a statement, the Celtics said the team “deplores domestic violence of any kind, and we are deeply disturbed by the allegations.”
“Most importantly, our thoughts are with the victim of this incident,” the team said.
The Celtics said that under league policy, such matters are handled by the league office, not the team, “and so the Celtics will be working with both the league and local authorities to assist in their ongoing investigations.”
An NBA spokesman called the allegations “disturbing” and said the league is “conducting a full investigation of the matter. We have been in contact with local authorities since learning of the incident.”
Bird faces four charges, including kidnapping and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, both punishable by up to 10 years in state prison, and strangulation or suffocation and assault and battery on a househould or family member, which each carry maximum jail terms of 2½ years, records show.
Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley decried Bird’s alleged conduct.
“No one should have to live in an abusive relationship,” Conley said in a statement. “As this case illustrates, a trusted figure in a survivor’s life can make disclosing abuse to law enforcement easier. It might be a friend, coach, family member, or co-worker. It might be police or prosecutors directly. But no matter the circumstances and no matter who you are, it’s important to remember that there are people ready to help you.”
Bird had been hospitalized for an unspecified “evaluation” since his arrest Friday night.
After a strong summer league showing in Las Vegas in July, he earned the team’s final roster spot and signed a two-year, $3 million minimum contract.
Gary Washburn, Adam Himmelsbach, Milton J. Valencia, and John R. Ellement of the Globe staff contributed to this report.