Police say Artest slapped woman's face

Updated: March 6, 2007, 10:31 PM ET
Associated Press

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Sacramento Kings forward Ron Artest slapped a woman's face and grabbed her repeatedly, causing visible injuries, according to a sheriff's report made public Tuesday.

Artest was arrested Monday after a woman inside his home in a Sacramento suburb called 911 and said she had been assaulted. In a portion of the 911 tape released by authorities, the woman described injuries to her hand and leg.

"Victim sustained visible trauma after being repeatedly grabbed by Artest and pushed to the floor," said the Placer County Sheriff's Department report. "Artest then slapped victim's face [and] by use of force prevented victim from leaving."

The report also said Artest took a phone from the woman the first time she tried to call 911.

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Artest was arrested Monday on suspicion of domestic violence and using force or violence to prevent his victim from reporting a crime. He was released from custody after posting a $50,000 bond and is awaiting a March 22 arraignment.

"Ron Artest, his family and supporters are working diligently to address this stressful situation," his agent, Mark Stevens, said in a statement. "Please be aware that Mr. Artest's main priorities are that of his family and his professional commitment to the Sacramento Kings. Ron's wife and children are respectfully requesting that you allow them the privacy needed to handle these matters in an appropriate manner."

In the 911 tape, released Tuesday by the sheriff's department, the woman calls a police dispatcher upset that Artest is leaving in a vehicle. After learning it's registered in both their names, the dispatcher says Artest has the legal right to take the vehicle.

The woman starts to hang up, then mentions "domestic violence."

"Ma'am, is there some fighting going on right now?" the dispatcher asks.

"Yeah, and he's upset," the woman replies.

"Did he hit you?" he asks.

"Oh, yeah, my hand is bleeding; I've got a scratch on my leg," she replies.

"Do you need medical, ma'am?"

"No. No. My finger's just bleeding. It's not stopping, but it's just bleeding. I'm not worried about my finger," the woman says.

The department released the initial 82 seconds of the call, which continued for about 15 minutes until deputies arrived at the home, said sheriff's department spokeswoman Dena Erwin.

The remainder of the report is being kept confidential while the Placer County District Attorney's office considers charges, Erwin said. She could not elaborate on the nature of the woman's trauma or her relationship to Artest.

But a neighbor who witnessed part of the altercation told The Sacramento Bee that the woman involved in the incident was Artest's wife, Kimsha Artest.

Authorities also said a 3-year-old girl was inside the house at the time of the argument. She can be heard in the background of the 911 tape, talking to "daddy" and "mommy."

Deputies have responded to 911 calls from Artest's home five other times since last August, including at least two involving domestic disturbances between Artest and his wife.

A deputy who went to the home in September found the couple arguing. Artest and his wife later were referred to counseling, Erwin said.

In November, deputies said Artest had destroyed property in the house, but his wife declined to pursue charges. And the day after Christmas, deputies found one of the couple's vehicles crashed into bushes on the property. Kimsha Artest told a deputy "there was no problem; everything was fine," Erwin said.

Placer County Deputy District Attorney Dan Quick said his office had yet to receive the report, but that prosecutors would review other evidence such as the 911 tape and photographs taken at the scene.

"In cases like this, we don't do anything special as far as our treatment of them," Quick said. "We want to see what evidence was gathered before we make a charging decision."

Kings coach Eric Musselman told reporters Tuesday that he spoke to Artest by telephone Monday night but would not describe their conversation. Musselman added that while Artest will be missed on the court, the rest of the team can't dwell on his absence beginning with Tuesday's game against Indiana.

"I think everybody understands that we have to move forward," he said. "We're concerned and we want the best for him and his family. Having said that, we have a job to do tonight to get ready for the game mentally and physically."

The Kings indefinitely removed Artest, the central figure in the 2004 brawl between Indiana Pacers players and Detroit Pistons fans, from the team while they seek more information about the arrest. He continues to receive his salary.

"We're just kind of wait and see," team spokesman Troy Hanson said. "I think there's a lot of things we still need to look at."

Teammate Corliss Williamson said he wanted to give Artest some space before reaching out to talk to him. Williamson said that despite Artest's reputation before joining the Kings last season, he's been a good teammate in his year in Sacramento.

"As a person, I think Ron is a good guy. I had the opportunity to be around him and I can't say he's a bad guy at all," Williamson said. "He's a great person to be around and a caring person more than people know. Unfortunately, he's been in some pretty bad incidents. Hopefully he can learn from that and do better."

Sheriff's deputies were called to Artest's five-acre estate in a gated community 25 miles northeast of Sacramento about 9:30 a.m. Monday. They said they found the player sitting quietly outside, the windshield of his Hummer shattered by a pot thrown by the woman.

Monday's incident was Artest's latest run-in with local authorities. Last month, county animal control officers seized his Great Dane, Socks, because it wasn't being fed.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press