Sports

Celtics' Jabari Bird allegedly 'choked his girlfriend for hours' but pleads innocent

Celtics' Jabari Bird allegedly 'choked his girlfriend for hours' but pleads innocent

The Celtics' Jabari Bird pleaded not guilty to four felony charges on Thursday and maintained his innocence as he was arraigned on allegations that he repeatedly assaulted his girlfriend last week.

Bird strangled the woman with two hands about 12 times, causing her to lose consciousness, she told police.

Bird pleaded not guilty to felony kidnapping, felony assault and battery with a unsafe weapon, strangulation and assault and battery of a household member.

Bird was ordered to not have any contact with the alleged victim or any witnesses, and he must stay away from her college.

Bird had been held at a local hospital for evaluation, which delayed the arraignment hearing to Thursday.

The Celtics released an updated statement following Bird's arraignment: "Most importantly, our thoughts are with the victim of this incident".

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"The Celtics organization deplores domestic violence of any kind, and we are deeply disturbed by the allegations against Jabari Bird", the team said in a statement.

Bird, who pleaded not guilty, was released on $50,000 bail, and he is set to appear in court again October 25, nine days after Boston tips off its regular season. His girlfriend reportedly told police that, after she left his apartment, he texted her, saying he would kill himself if she did not return.

What is Bird's employment status with the Celtics?

The Celtics drafted Bird with the 56th pick in the 2017 draft. Only the first year is guaranteed.

In a statement Thursday, the 24-year-old Bird apologized to his teammates and fans for creating an "unnecessary distraction" and said he's taking time away to deal with "legal and medical issues". His next court date is set for October 25. The shooting guard spent his rookie season on a two-way contract before being signed to the active roster this summer. Police have not released details, including who the victim was or where the attack happened, citing a state law that bans police from discussing domestic violence investigations.

The NBA requires violators of its domestic abuse policy to undergo counseling. Bird's case could be an important and complicated one for a league that has sought to both take a firmer stance against domestic violence, and create a more open environment for players working through mental health issues.


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