ESPN reporter Howard Bryant pleaded not guilty Monday in a Massachusetts courtroom following his arrest for allegedly assaulting his estranged wife and a police officer, The Republican reported.
Bryant, 42, was charged Saturday with domestic assault and battery, assault and battery on a police officer and resisting arrest.
State police said Bryant hit a state trooper in the chest with his elbow while officers were attempting to place him under arrest in front of a pizzeria in Buckland, north west Massachusetts.
According to witnesses, Bryant was seen arguing loudly with his estranged wife, then choked her and pushed her into a car.
But Bryant's wife, Veronique Bryant, who declined to press charges, criticized the police officers' handling of the situation. "It wasn't an assault or a battery. I was not scared. He was not touching me. We had a discussion. The police reacted in a totally inappropriate way," she said.
Howard Bryant also disputed the police's entire version of events, though he admitted that he lost his temper. "Everything the police said was false," he told the paper Monday.
Bryant said the incident started after patrons at the pizzeria noticed the argument and called police. He said when police arrived, he was in his car with his wife and six-year-old son.
"I raised my hands over my head so they wouldn't shoot me," Bryant said. "They smashed my head on the car and pulled my sweatshirt hood up over my head."
He added that the police threatened to Taser him when he insisted to them that he was not resisting arrest.
"One conversation would have stopped it all," Bryant said.
Bryant's attorney characterized the incident as a classic case of police overreacting to a situation that involved a black man and a white woman.
"This case is about the fact that racism still exists in America, and Howard Bryant is a victim of it," said attorney Buz Eisenberg.
But authorities were quick to dispute Eisenberg's accusation, saying race was not a factor.
"We went at the request of a citizen's call and took the actions necessary," said state trooper Anthony Martino of the Shelburne Falls, Mass., barracks
Bryant, who was released on Saturday on $5,000 bail, is a frequent panelist on ESPN's Sunday morning talk show "The Sports Reporters." He is due back in court April 21 for a pre-trial conference.
Bryant is a senior writer for ESPN.com and ESPN The Magazine. The Boston native worked previously for the Washington Post and has penned three books: "Shut Out: A Story of Race and Baseball in Boston," "Juicing the Game: Drugs, Power and the Fight for the Soul of Major League Baseball" and "The Last Hero: A Life of Henry Aaron."