A judge ruled Wednesday that former NFL player Jonathan Martin must stand trial on charges of criminal threats over an Instagram photo he posted last year of a shotgun with references to a high school he attended in Los Angeles and a former teammate accused of bullying him.
The photo contained enough evidence to have Martin “answer” for three felony charges, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Shellie Samuels said.
Martin, 29, allegedly threatened former Miami Dolphins teammate Richie Incognito and two former classmates at Harvard-Westlake High School in the February 2018 post, the New York Daily News reported. The photo tagged their social media handles and showed a 12-gauge shotgun and 19 shells on a motel bed.
The caption read: “When you’re a bully victim & a coward, your options are suicide, or revenge.”
The social media post was enough to send Incognito scrambling to an FBI safe house two hours from Scottsdale, Ariz., with his dad, brother and dog, the paper reported, citing the testimony of LAPD Det. Peter Doomanis.
“He described being in a state of panic. He was in fear,” Doomanis said.
The detective testified that Martin’s web history showed he had searched for a story about Incognito hours before he ordered a pump-action shotgun, the Daily News reported.
Harvard-Westlake, a private prep school, closed its two campuses following the post, which showed the hashtag “#HarvardWestlake” written in text over the shotgun’s barrel, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Martin made headlines in 2013 when he accused Incognito and other Miami teammates of harassment in the locker room. An NFL investigation found that Martin was indeed being bullied.
The Dolphins suspended Incognito for his role in the bullying scandal. After missing the 2014 NFL season, he joined the Buffalo Bills as a free agent. In 2018, Incognito was accused of using "weak racist slurs" by an opposing player. He was released from his contract last May.
Martin was traded after the scandal, playing one season for the San Francisco 49ers. He retired in 2015 after a back injury.
That same year Martin opened up publicly about attempting suicide during his NFL career and how he had often felt uncomfortable as a minority at the elite Los Angeles private school, the L.A. Times reported.
Martin’s pretrial hearing is set for Jan. 30.