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49ers' Brooks won't face assault charges

Published: Friday, Jul. 19, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 2C
Last Modified: Sunday, Jul. 21, 2013 - 9:45 am

SANTA CLARA – The Santa Clara County district attorney decided Thursday not to pursue charges against 49ers linebacker Ahmad Brooks, who had been accused of beating teammate Lamar Divens repeatedly over the head with a beer bottle last month.

New evidence, including an earlier roughhousing incident between the two men and Divens' demands for $1 million from Brooks, helped convince District Attorney Jeff Rosen that he would not be able to get a conviction.

Nearly three weeks ago, the district attorney's office obtained a warrant for felony assault with great bodily injury, which carries a maximum sentence of four years. There was conflict among the attorneys on whether the warrant should be served, however, and it was decided that more information was needed. In a rare move involving this type of case, assistant district attorney Karyn Sinunu-Towery, one of the office's most senior members, was put in charge of the case.

That investigation turned up new evidence, including a May incident at a barbecue at Brooks' San Jose home in which Divens, a 340-pound nose tackle, pushed Brooks to the ground, causing a 2-inch cut on Brooks' leg. According to a district attorney memo explaining why Brooks will not be charged, the two had been "wrestling" and "shadow boxing" throughout the afternoon. No one called the police, Brooks tended to his wound, and Divens remained at the party.

"Cases are not always what they first appear," Rosen said in a news release. "The value to a thorough and deliberate investigation is a more complete picture of the facts."

When an arrest warrant was obtained earlier this month, court records indicated that Brooks, 29, Divens, 27, and two defensive teammates – undrafted rookies Lawrence Okoye and Mike Purcell – had been drinking in San Jose on June 8 when they returned to Brooks' home in Brooks' truck. After Divens, who had been driving, jokingly pretended to throw Brooks' keys into the yard, Brooks hit him repeatedly over the head with a beer bottle and punched him in the face, opening a gash that needed to be closed with stitches.

When police questioned Divens after the incident, he told them Brooks also threatened to retrieve a gun, according to court records. The district attorney memo said no other witnesses could corroborate that Brooks mentioned a gun. The memo also said that when Divens was feigning to throw the keys, he was moving his hand back and forth, and Brooks said he thought Divens was going to hit him as he did during the May encounter.

Divens initially told police he would press charges, but five days later changed his mind, saying that doing so would be "bad for both of their careers." The follow-up investigation also noted that Divens, a backup who was on the 49ers' practice squad last year, wanted Brooks to pay him $1 million. When that demand was rejected by Brooks, Divens changed his mind again and said he wanted to press charges.

No charges will be filed against Divens.

"As you well know, I do not condone the behavior of Brooks on June 8, 2013," Sinunu-Towery concluded in her report. "However, based on the law as applied to the above facts discovered in this investigation, I will dismiss the felony complaint, which was filed prematurely. The totality of the circumstances demonstrates that the charge cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt to 12 jurors."

Read Matthew Barrows' blogs and archives at www.sacbee.com/sf49ers and listen for his reports Tuesdays on ESPN Radio 1320. Follow him on Twitter @mattbarrows.

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MATTHEW BARROWS

Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.

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