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NBA player Jaxson Hayes charged with domestic violence in Los Angeles

The New Orleans Pelicans center faces 12 misdemeanor counts stemming from a July confrontation with police, who were responding to an incident involving his girlfriend.
Jaxson Hayes of the New Orleans Pelicans watches from the bench during the second half of the NBA game against the Phoenix Suns on Nov. 2, 2021, in Phoenix.
Jaxson Hayes of the New Orleans Pelicans watches from the bench during the second half of the Pelicans' game against the Phoenix Suns in Phoenix on Nov. 2.Christian Petersen / Getty Images file

New Orleans Pelicans center Jaxson Hayes was charged with misdemeanor domestic violence Monday in connection with an incident at his home in Los Angeles last year, officials said.

The 6-foot-11 Hayes faces 12 charges, including domestic violence, battery, false imprisonment, trespassing and vandalism, related to an incident with his girlfriend, as well as battery of a police officer and resisting arrest, according to a criminal complaint filed Monday.

Hayes, 21, was arrested after a confrontation with police early July 28 at his home in the Woodland Hills neighborhood of Los Angeles.

The officers went to Hayes’ home after his girlfriend’s cousin called 911. The cousin said Hayes’ girlfriend was sending her text messages saying that Hayes had become loud and violent and that she was scared, authorities said.

Hayes, who was not armed, became argumentative after officers said he could not go back into his home, police said. He is alleged to have ignored requests from his girlfriend and his cousin to stop talking and struggling with the police as they tried to subdue him.

Body camera video released by police showed that an officer briefly pressed a knee to Hayes' neck and that he gasped “I can’t breathe” seconds before another officer used a Taser on him during a struggle.

“Officers utilized physical force to take Hayes down to the ground to overcome his resistance. Once on the ground, Hayes attempted to get up and continued resisting officers,” police said in July. “Officers utilized two deployments of the taser, as well as bodyweight and physical force during the altercation, which lasted for approximately two and a half minutes, before officers were able to handcuff Hayes.”

Hayes’ defense attorney, Mark Baute, said in a statement Tuesday, "Jaxson Hayes is a great young man, and he will cooperate with both the NBA and the City Attorney in resolving the misdemeanor charges."

A representative for the Pelicans could not immediately be reached for comment Tuesday.

Hayes is free on a $25,000 bond from the incident in July. His arraignment is set for Feb. 15. The Pelicans have back-to-back home games on Feb. 14 and 15 against the Toronto Raptors and the Memphis Grizzlies.

Felonies in Los Angeles County are prosecuted by the District Attorney's Office, while misdemeanors are often kicked down to the City Attorney's Office.

That Hayes’ case is not being handled by District Attorney George Gascón's office has angered the union representing Los Angeles police officers. Law enforcement and victim advocacy groups have been at odds for months with Gascón, a former Los Angeles police officer.

“Luckily, when it comes to holding criminals accountable for their crimes, the residents of Los Angeles are not solely dependent on George Gascón and can rely on the United States Attorney and City Attorney to do their jobs,” the Los Angeles Police Protective League said in a statement late Monday. 

The union, however, said it was grateful that Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer had taken up the case.

“We’re pleased that the City Attorney evaluated the evidence and charged Jaxson Hayes for assaulting an LAPD officer, domestic violence, and ten additional crimes. It’s disappointing that the NBA has remained silent on Mr. Hayes’ behavior despite the video evidence and its stated zero-tolerance policy on domestic violence.”

Alex Bastian, a special adviser to Gascón, defended the office's actions. 

“The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office referred this matter to the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office for possible misdemeanor filing because the conduct — a push — did not rise to the level of a felony case filing," Bastian said in a statement Tuesday.

"The charge evaluation worksheet is not being released at this time because the case remains open until the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office has resolved its prosecution,” Bastian said.

The Pelicans visit the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday night. It was unclear whether Hayes would play.

Hayes has played in 34 of the team's 46 games this season, averaging 7.0 points and 3.5 rebounds per contest coming off the bench.

Hayes was the No. 8 overall pick of the Atlanta Hawks in the 2019 NBA Draft out of Texas before he was traded to New Orleans.