- John Barr, ESPN Staff Writer
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LAS VEGAS -- Never-before-released court documents and amateur video help provide the clearest picture yet of what happened inside a Las Vegas strip club on Feb. 19, 2007, when Adam "Pacman" Jones showered scantily clad dancers with money. Just minutes after "making it rain," Jones was involved in a fight inside the club. A short time later, three people were shot outside the club.
Jones initially was charged with felony coercion for his role in the melee. The charge later was reduced, but the incident ultimately helped push his NFL career to the brink.
The video and documents, including witness statements, search warrants and internal police memos, were obtained by "Outside the Lines" and the Las Vegas Review-Journal. The documents include differing statements Jones provided to Las Vegas police -- one made the day of the shooting and one from seven months later.
The amateur video, held as evidence in the shooting case, could be played when Arvin Edwards stands trial in February. Edwards is charged with three counts of attempted murder in connection with the shooting.
Jones was in Las Vegas for NBA All-Star Weekend. After losing $50,000 or $60,000 gambling at Caesars Palace, according to statements, Jones went on a hot streak, winning $120,000 at the Palms hotel and casino.
Shortly after 2 a.m. on Feb. 19, Jones and an entourage of about seven people -- a group that included his stylist; his business manager, Chris Horvath; and Robert Reid, Jones' massive bodyguard for the evening -- arrived at the Minxx Gentlemen's Club & Lounge. Celebrity sightings at the club increased as the evening progressed. Rapper Nelly and rapper/producer Jermaine Dupri, both Grammy-winning artists, arrived at the club not long after Jones. Professional boxer Zab Judah and Houston Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson were also in the crowd.
Jones told police he arrived at the club with "close to $100,000." He took $40,000 out of his Louis Vuitton bag and exchanged it for several stacks of $1 bills, which he put in a black trash bag, according to his statement. So much money was thrown onto the main stage that dancers, after their sets, started filling buckets with the loose bills covering the stage.
At one point, Jones told police, Dupri called him to the stage. Jones climbed the short steps while cradling "probably about $12,000 to $14,000," according to one of his statements.
Jones, with his bodyguard present in the background, can be seen on the video repeatedly throwing money to a dancer off stage at his feet and then over his shoulder to several dancers on stage. When several dancers bent over to collect the cash, Dupri took over the DJ's microphone and said: "We gonna show y'all how to make it rain."
"Don't start getting the money until I tell y'all to get off the stage," Dupri said. " Just keep f---ing dancing! Don't bend down and try to get your money."
Moments after Dupri made those comments, the video recording ended. It was after 4:30 a.m. when trouble inside Minxx began.
According to court documents, Jones became angry when a dancer and a club promoter continued sweeping up the money he had thrown on the stage.
Two Minxx bouncers interviewed by "Outside the Lines" said Jones approached the dancer who was collecting the money, grabbed her by the hair and hit her in the face with a closed fist. Jones has denied attacking the entertainer. No charges have been filed.
According to witness statements in court documents, when Minxx bouncer Aaron Cudworth grabbed Jones in an effort to forcibly remove him from the club, Jones said, "I'm gonna kill ya. Matter of fact, all youse are gonna get it." During the struggle, according to witnesses, Jones bit Cudworth near his left ankle.
In his second statement to police, when asked by a detective whether he had made any threats, Jones said: "No sir. Not one threat." Jones told police that while he was "making it rain," several dancers started fighting over the money.
While trying to break up a fight between two of the dancers, Jones said, he noticed a club promoter snatch the black trash bag, which contained the remainder of the $40,000 Jones had received in $1 bills upon entering the club. Jones told police that when he and Reid, his bodyguard, confronted the man who took the bag of cash, they were both attacked by Minxx security.
According to Jones, the bouncers put Reid in a choke hold, pulled out expandable batons like the kind carried by riot police, and hurled racial epithets at Jones and Reid.
"I'll crack your f---ing knees, n-----," threatened one bouncer, according to a statement Jones provided.
Jones and his entourage were thrown out of the club. Moments later, prosecutors say, a lone gunman -- a man they say was Edwards -- stepped from behind a palm tree at the front of the club and opened fire.
Three people were shot. Cudworth, the bouncer who fought with Jones, was shot in the chest and left forearm. Shift manager Tom Urbanski was shot in the chest. A bullet remains lodged in Urbanski's spine, and he is paralyzed from the waist down. A patron, Natalie Jones, was grazed by a bullet on the left side of her head. The three shooting victims have filed separate civil lawsuits against Jones.
When Las Vegas Police arrived at Jones' suite in Caesars Palace several hours later to take his statement, he provided sketchy details about the alleged shooter.
"I didn't actually see him, uh, shoot the gun, but I seen a guy in a black shirt run off when I heard shots," Jones told police that night. He described the man as a slightly built, lighter-skinned black male. "It had to be him," Jones told police. But Jones acknowledged that the unidentified man might have simply been running from the gunfire.
The documents, recently obtained by "Outside the Lines," reveal the degree to which Las Vegas Police initially treated Jones as a suspect in the weeks and months after the shooting.
Detectives filed applications for search warrants to obtain Jones' cell phone records. They also traveled to Atlanta to interview his associates and sought cellular-site information that would help them place Jones and his associates in specific locations the night of the shooting based on their proximity to the nearest cell phone towers.
"I think they knew Adam Jones was not the perpetrator but they felt like he could help them in their investigation," said Worrick Robinson, Jones' Nashville-based player agent and attorney.
In March 2007, Las Vegas Police interviewed Minxx valet David Devine, who, according to witness statements, was the only person to clearly see the gunman open fire outside the strip club. Devine spent roughly 2½ hours reviewing surveillance video and still photos, according to a log of the investigation compiled by Las Vegas Det. Kirk Jordan.
"Devine cannot determine if suspect was inside club prior to shooting," Det. Jordan wrote in his notes. "Without this information, Detectives cannot prove if shooter had/has any intimate knowledge of Jones or his entourage."
Robinson said Jones has fully cooperated with Las Vegas Police. In April 2007, detectives obtained a search warrant to take a sample of Jones' DNA; he provided an oral swab that same month in Atlanta. Robinson said police obtained the DNA sample because of the allegation that Jones bit a bouncer the night of the strip club fight. Prosecutors have declined to comment about the case before trial.
That same month, while waiting to hear whether there would be formal charges from the Minxx incident, Jones was suspended for the 2007 season by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. Two months later, Jones and Reid were charged with felony coercion for their alleged roles in the strip club melee.
Jones' later statement
Jones' life as a suspect was short-lived, and the felony charge against him was later reduced, in large part because of the second statement Jones provided to Las Vegas Police -- in September 2007, nearly seven months after the shooting.
After the fight inside the strip club, Jones told police, he was approached in the parking lot by a light-skinned black male who asked simply, "What's wrong?"
When Jones explained that he'd had his money taken away from him inside the club, the man replied: "Don't worry about it. I'm going to take care of it." Moments later, Jones said, that same man opened fire on the front of the strip club.
At one point in Jones' second statement, one of the detectives asked Jones why he waited nearly seven months to reveal his contact with the shooting suspect. An excerpt reads as follows:
Detective: "When you gave us an interview [in February 2007], why didn't you give us this information about the guy comin' up to you at that time?"
Jones: "Cause I was so nervous. And at, at the point I was thinkin' everybody was tryin' to put everything on me. I was just nervous."
Detective: "Cause that's gonna be a question. Why, if you weren't involved in the shooting or any relationship with anybody, why didn't you just tell us that up front?"
Jones: "I was just nervous."
In December 2007, Jones pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge of conspiracy to commit disorderly conduct for his role in the fight inside the strip club and agreed to assist police in their investigation.
In April 2008, 14 months after the Minxx shooting and with a trade to the Dallas Cowboys in the works, Jones picked Edwards out of a police lineup in Yakima County, Wash., identifying him as the man who had approached him briefly outside the club that night. Edwards had been arrested in Washington on an unrelated offense. In a jailhouse interview with "Outside the Lines," Edwards denied involvement in the Minxx shooting. Edwards' attorney, Dan Silverstein, said Jones changed his story to get a deal.
"In February, Pacman says he didn't see the shooting and he can't identify the shooter," Silverstein said. "In September, after getting a sweetheart deal from the prosecutor, Pacman becomes the key eyewitness identifying somebody else. Pacman learned a lot playing defense in the NFL."
Robinson maintains that Jones has been truthful throughout the course of the police investigation.
Edwards was scheduled to stand trial this week, but his trial date has been moved to February.
Jones, who is expected to testify against Edwards as a key prosecution witness, has kept a low profile in recent months and remains hopeful he can make another comeback in the NFL.
"He [Jones] has been trying to stay out of the news," Robinson said. "He's got a child. He's got other family he supports. He's trying to get back into the only career he knows: playing football."
John Barr is a reporter in ESPN's enterprise unit. He can be reached at email@example.com.
12hBy Jackie MacMullan