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Ex-Indianapolis Colts star accused of punching his son and choking son’s boyfriend

Former NFL lineman Joseph Staysniak was charged with battery and strangulation after an incident Monday evening with his son and his son's boyfriend near his Indiana home.
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Former Indianapolis Colts lineman Joseph "Joe" Staysniak was arrested Tuesday after a domestic incident in which he was accused of assaulting his son and choking his son's boyfriend, court documents show.

Staysniak, 56, a 6-foot-5 retired football star and radio personality, was booked into jail at 1:43 a.m. Tuesday on strangulation and battery charges. He was released later in the day on his own recognizance, according to Hendricks County Jail records. 

The Hendricks County Sheriff’s Office responded to a report of a “delayed domestic” disturbance at Staysniak's home in Brownsburg just before midnight Monday.

According to the probable cause affidavit, Staysniak's son told authorities that a neighbor saw him sitting in a car in front of the property with his boyfriend.

Joe Staysniak during a game at Foxboro Stadium in Foxboro, Mass.
Joe Staysniak during a game in Foxboro, Mass., on Dec. 11, 1994. Focus On Sport / Getty Images

Joe Staysniak then approached, opened the rear passenger door and “grabbed [the boyfriend's] hood and was choking him,” the affidavit said.

The son reported to deputies that his father “then punched him, causing his lip to bleed and then punched” the boyfriend. The officer who spoke with the son observed dried blood and cuts on his lower lip, the affidavit said.

The son reported that his father displayed a firearm and told him and the boyfriend “that they’re lucky he saw who it was,” the affidavit said.

The boyfriend in the vehicle said Joe Staysniak “flashed a gun” and “had it against the side of his face at one point during the incident,” the affidavit said.

Staysniak told the sheriff’s office that a neighbor had called to advise him there was a suspicious car in their front yard and that he went to investigate. When he approached, he saw who was inside and told the boyfriend he could never return to his property, the affidavit said. 

Staysniak denied hitting the boyfriend and said that his son “came after him,” that he shoved his son backward with an “open hand” and that his son started to bleed at the mouth, according to the affidavit. He said that he and his son “got into it” and that “he tried to attack him,” the document said.

Staysniak said he had to physically restrain his son at that point and his wife had to separate them, according to the affidavit.

Staysniak advised that “he did have his handgun on him” but “denied touching [the boyfriend] with it or pointing it at any person,” the document said.

He was found to be in offense of intimidation with a deadly weapon, strangulation, domestic battery and battery, according to the affidavit.

Staysniak was ultimately charged in Hendricks County Court with strangulation and two counts of battery resulting in bodily injury.

He appeared by video link Tuesday for an initial hearing, where the court preliminarily pleaded not guilty. As part of his pretrial release, he was ordered to have no contact with his son and the boyfriend.

A pretrial conference was scheduled for April 10 and a jury trial for April 25.

He was placed on enhanced pretrial supervision and released on his own recognizance. 

Attorney Guy A. Relford, who is representing Staysniak, stressed that the charges in Hendricks County do not include domestic battery or violations with a firearm. Deputies ultimately secured the firearm, according to the affidavit. 

“The situation arose when a neighbor contacted Joe at a late hour to report two suspicious vehicles parked in the woods near the Staysniak home and Joe went to investigate. He discovered his adult son and a friend in one of the vehicles," Relford said. "The details of what then transpired will come out in the courtroom, but we are completely confident that Joe’s actions will be conclusively determined to be legal and justified under the circumstances."

Relford said Staysniak has never been accused of a crime before, and he described him as a "long-standing pillar of the Central Indiana and Hendricks County communities."