Prosecutors on Wednesday charged former Seattle Seahawks offensive tackle Chad Wheeler with first-degree domestic violence assault and domestic violence unlawful imprisonment after he allegedly attacked his girlfriend over the weekend. Both charges are felonies.
Wheeler was also charged with resisting arrest, a misdemeanor under Washington state law, according to a spokesperson for the King County Prosecuting Attorney's Office in Washington state.
The charges come hours after the Seahawks issued a statement saying that Wheeler is a free agent and is "no longer with the team." According to the NFL's official transaction list, the Seahawks cut Wheeler from the team on Wednesday.
The team encouraged him to seek help and shared information for domestic violence victims and those who suffer from mental health issues.
"The Seahawks are saddened by the details emerging against Chad Wheeler and strongly condemn this act of domestic violence," the team said. "Our thoughts and support are with the victim."
Prosecutors said in a filing that Wheeler allegedly attacked and strangled the victim in her bedroom on January 22. He allegedly beat her into unconsciousness twice and left her both times for dead.
According to prosecutors, at one point during the attack, Wheeler allegedly forced his fingers into her mouth and down her throat, and "crushed" his hand down over her nose and mouth while squeezing her throat with his other hand. The woman lost consciousness twice as Wheeler allegedly strangled her, prosecutors said. The victim later recalled trying to roll away, but Wheeler "violently" grabbed her left arm and ripped her body back toward him.
When she regained consciousness, for the second time, she saw Wheeler come back into the bedroom and told her "Oh, you're still alive," according to prosecutors. She ran into the bathroom and locked the door behind her before calling police and telling family members to notify authorities.
A police report said officers responded to a domestic dispute at an apartment in the city of Kent after Wheeler's girlfriend called 911 and told the operator she was being "killed." When they arrived, she was screaming from inside, prompting officers to force entry into the home, the report said.
Wheeler initially resisted arrest before officers detained him, the report said. Prosecutors said officers used a Taser once to his body, but it had little effect.
His girlfriend was hospitalized after officers found her with her face covered in blood and her left arm was limp against her body, the report said.
The report lists the woman as 5 foot 9 inches tall and weighing 145 pounds and Wheeler at 6 foot 7 inches tall and weighing 310 pounds.
The woman alleged that Wheeler suffers from bi-polar disorder and was taking medication but had not been taking it recently, the report said, adding that she told police the couple previously had been dating for six months without any "notable issues."
In a series of tweets Wednesday, Wheeler apologized, writing that "events happened over the weekend that transpired from a manic episode."
"It is time for me to walk away from football and get the help I need to never again pose a threat to another," he added. "I cannot express my sorrow or remorse enough. I am truly ashamed."
Wheeler was booked into King County Jail and was released on a bond of $400,000 on Tuesday, jail records show. A judge ordered Wheeler to have no contact with the victim and to surrender any weapons, according to officials.
Prosecutors asked the court to place Wheeler on electronic home detention and that his ankle monitoring device be equipped with GPS. His next court date is February 9.
Wheeler went undrafted in 2017 but signed with the New York Giants and played in 19 of 27 games. He was released by the team ahead of the 2019 season and then signed on with the Seahawks' practice squad. He did not see any on-field action that year but played in five games last season.
Notable figures in the NFL reacted to the news of Wheeler's arrest and demanded the league to take action.
Pittsburgh Steelers offensive tackle Zach Banner, who was Wheeler's roommate in college, tweeted that Wheeler is "completely different" than the person he knew. "What he did was heartbreaking, and I will never forgive... My thoughts and prayers go out to the victim. She and her health should be the (utmost) priority."