A Texas grand jury on Friday indicted Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Aqib Talib on a charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, raising even more questions about whether the talented 25-year-old still has a future with the Bucs or even in the National Football League.
Talib is accused of firing shots at his sister's boyfriend on March 21 in suburban Dallas. A conviction carries a maximum of 20 years in prison, although Talib likely wouldn't serve that much time.
Talib's attorney, Jay Reisinger of Pittsburgh, confirmed the indictment in an email to The Tampa Tribune.
"It is important to note that the indictment is merely a formal accusation and that Mr. Talib has not been convicted of any crime with respect to this matter," Reisinger wrote. "The grand jury was not privy to a number of important facts. We are very confident that once we have the opportunity to present all of the facts, this matter will be resolved in Mr. Talib's favor. Aqib looks forward to putting this matter behind him and returning to the game of football."
Reisinger declined to comment further.
Talib, 25, turned himself in to authorities in Garland, Texas, on March 30 and was released within a couple of hours after posting $25,000 bail.
On March 21, police were called to a disturbance at the home of Saran Talib, 42, and her boyfriend, Shannon Billings, 40.
According to warrants, Aqib Talib pointed a 9 mm handgun at Billings and swung it at him. The gun slipped out of his hand and struck a fence. Billings picked up the gun, which had jammed and was inoperable.
Talib's mother, Okolo Talib, then pulled a handgun and shot at Billings, authorities said. Aqib Talib got the gun from his mother and shot several times at Billings but missed, investigators said.
As Talib fights for his freedom in Texas, questions remain about his future with the Buccaneers. It's not the first time Talib has been in trouble with the law and with the team.
The team offered no new reaction on Friday, though a spokesman sent this comment made by general manager Mark Dominik on April 30: "I think right now, as that matter is back under sealed oath with the league office rules and everything, we will just handle that matter when it's deemed necessary."
Teammates expressed concern for the troubled cornerback.
Bucs center Jeff Faine, a team captain, said: "I'm a huge supporter of his and I just hope that everything works out for him through the trial and that he's able to get a fair shake.
"I still haven't had a chance to speak with him since the incident happened," Faine said, "but I just hope that everything is fair and that he can get what he needs and wants out of this.''
The NFL work stoppage – owners locked out the players six weeks ago – makes Talib's future with the Bucs difficult to predict.
No player transactions or disciplinary actions are allowed during the lockout, though NFL commissioner Roger Goodell indicated the league's conduct policy remains in effect. Talib could face a league suspension once business resumes.
Bucs coach Raheem Morris indicated in April the team would let the legal process run its course before making any decisions about Talib.
"The whole thing about it is it will be handled through the league, of course, like always," Morris said at the time. "And everything will be handled here internally."
Morris said the legal side will be decided in court, "and we'll deal with it accordingly as we get ready for it and plan for it."
In August 2009, the Florida Highway Patrol arrested Talib after an incident involving a cab driver while riding from a St. Petersburg club to a Tampa hotel. The driver said Talib punched him. Talib pleaded not guilty, and the case was dismissed after he entered a pretrial diversion program and took anger management classes.
The NFL fined Talib and suspended him without pay for one game for violating the league's personal conduct policy.
In July 2008, Talib was involved in a fight with teammate Cory Boyd at the NFL's Rookie Symposium. In May 2009, Talib got into a fight with teammate Donald Penn during a minicamp workout and wound up hitting another player, Torrie Cox, in the face with his helmet.