NEW YORK – Plaxico Burress was led out of a police precinct in handcuffs Monday after surrendering on a weapons possession charge, and authorities said that teammate Antonio Pierce is being investigated over his role in an accidental shooting at a Manhattan nightclub.
Burress was silent but held his head high as he was led out of the police station, where a crowd that included Giants fans hovered nearby with cell phone cameras. Burress planned to plead not guilty to the charge during a Monday court appearance, said defense lawyer Benjamin Brafman.
Click here for photos.
The New York Giants star wide receiver accidentally shot himself at a Manhattan nightclub Friday evening and was treated at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center. He was released Saturday.
The episode set off a frenzy that showed no signs of letting up Monday: Police said the case could expand beyond Burress, with authorities investigating Pierce and the hospital for failing to report the shooting. The NFL is closely monitoring the developments as well.
A more detailed timeline of the evening also emerged. Police said Pierce, Burress and running back Derrick Ward arrived at the Latin Quarter nightclub with two other people around 11:30 p.m. Friday.
Burress had been allowed to bypass security, even though they knew he was armed, according to a law enforcement official who spoke on condition of anonymity. The club is said to be fully cooperating in the investigation.
Around 12:05 a.m., as Burress was being escorted to a VIP area with a drink in one hand, he somehow ended up fumbling his gun and it discharged, hitting his thigh. Pierce was with him when that occurred, police said.
It's believed Pierce helped retrieve the gun and take Burress to the car, and then left with him, police said.
Police are trying to figure out what happened in the two hours that followed. Burress showed up at the hospital around 2:20 a.m, and was discharged at 1 p.m. Saturday.
Police said they had to track Burress down by canvassing local hospitals, and he had been discharged from NewYork-Presbyterian by the time detectives got there Saturday.
The gun was eventually recovered at Burress' house in New Jersey, authorities said.
The case drew the wrath of Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has waged a long fight against illegal guns during his time in office. He called for a full prosecution of state law that requires mandatory prison for carrying a loaded handgun.
"I don't think anybody should be exempt from that, and I think it would be an outrage if we didn't prosecute to the fullest extent of the law, particularly people who live in the public domain, make their living because of their visibility — they're the role models for our kids," Bloomberg said.
He also lashed out at the hospital, based on the allegation that officials may not have properly reported the shooting.
"It's just an outrage that the hospital didn't do what they were legally required to do. It's a misdemeanor, it's a chargeable offense, and I think the district attorney should certainly go after the management of this hospital. The lame excuse that they didn't know — this is a world-class hospital," he said.
A call to the hospital seeking comment was not immediately returned.
Brafman refused to respond to media reports about an alleged coverup, other than to say: "I think a lot of what's been in the press is not accurate."
Burress arrived at a police station early Monday in a black Cadillac Escalade wearing jeans and a black coat. Burress, who was not visibly limping, did not speak to the media.
"He is standing tall. He is a mature adult," said Brafman, a well-known defense lawyer who represented hip-hop impresario Sean "Diddy" Combs on a bribery and gun possession charge in 2001. "I think any professional athlete in this situation would be concerned."
He said Burress is feeling OK. "If they let him play, he will be able to play. ... I think he will be a superstar for the rest of his career."
"My hope is that it plays out well and he can continue his career, because he's a good person I think, with a brilliant athletic career. And it would be a terrible sadness if an isolated incident could ruin a life," said Brafman.
Pierce deflected several questions after Sunday's game against the Washington Redskins. He wouldn't say whether he has a lawyer and when asked if he is concerned about his own situation, Pierce replied only: "No. I'm fine where I'm at."
Giants coach Tom Coughlin said he spoke to his players about Burress' situation but wouldn't get into specifics.
"We all are upset about what happened with Plaxico, and hopefully he's going to be fine and so on and so forth. That's our first concern," Coughlin said.
Reese and Giants president and CEO John Mara said they hadn't spoken to Burress, who hurt his hamstring two weeks ago. "I reached out to him," Reese said. "I did not get a return phone call."
Mara repeatedly said the Giants would cooperate with the police and the NFL in their investigations.
"This is a law enforcement matter and we are continuing to cooperate fully with the police," NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said in a statement. "In addition, it will be reviewed under our league policies."
Burress caught the go-ahead touchdown pass in the Giants' Super Bowl victory against the New England Patriots in February, following a regular season in which he scored a career-high 12 TDs. He was rewarded with a $35 million, five-year contract.
Burress has 35 catches for 454 yards and four touchdowns while constantly drawing double coverage this season.
Off the field, he was suspended for a game against Seattle in October and fined $117,500 for missing a team meeting and failing to notify the Giants of his absence. He said he had a family emergency.
Giants running back Brandon Jacobs said he spoke to Burress on the phone after the game.
"I called him and made a few jokes about the situation and his laugh is what I wanted to hear," Jacobs said, according to Newsday. "If he didn't laugh I knew he was going to be down, which he shouldn't be down. It's a mistake that happened, something that shouldn't have happened and that's that."