California law says if cops see a mark on anybody on a domestic violence call, somebody is going to jail, and that’s how they responded this week on a midnight mission to Darren Collison’s house in Granite Bay.
Only two people know how the “visible injuries,” as the salient evidence is described in Section 273.5 of the California Penal Code, made it onto Collison’s wife, and neither she nor the Kings’ backup point guard are publicly talking about it just yet.
Collison’s lawyer, however, had a few things to say about the felony case Wednesday. The attorney, Bill Portanova, advised media consumers to hold on for a few moments before they make any judgments in the case of the People v. Collison, which itself is still very much in the pre-development stage.
“This is a warm and loving family, and there is no doubt that they will get past this together,” said Portanova, one of Sacramento’s highest-profile defense lawyers and one who is not known to speak too glowingly to reporters about the people he represents, except in the occasional case where he actually believes they are innocent.
So what happened out there, Bill, in the rancher amid the blue oak where the foothills of the Sierra just begin to take shape?
“It’s really a misunderstanding, and we’re working to straighten it out,” Portanova said. “This is genuinely one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met, and we will be working closely with the family.”
Very friendly. Cordial, and so forth. He seemed to be respected by everyone.
Larry, an elder at the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ Kingdom Hall in Granite Bay, on Darren Collison
Collison couldn’t be reached Wednesday, nor could his wife.
The couple has a 2-year-old son, according to Portanova, and when authorities learn a child of that age has been in or around domestic incidents that include purported visible injuries, you can bet the child- and family-services people will be notified.
On Wednesday afternoon, the business cards of two Placer County social workers were stuffed into the crack of Collison’s front door on Oakbrooke Court. None of the names on the cards wanted to talk about the case.
By quitting time Wednesday, Placer County prosecutors had spent two full work days going over the evidence presented to them by sheriff’s investigators. The first 48 hours were not enough for them to make a decision on whether to prosecute Collison.
Assistant district attorney Jeff Wilson said in a news release his office will continue to review the case “to determine what, if any, charges are appropriate.”
A fair analysis of his statement would suggest the case against Collision is iffy.
Wilson said, “Our office will also have no further comment on the case until a charging decision is made.”
Their minds will be made up, Wilson said, by the time Collison – free on a $55,000 bond – makes his first court appearance July 11.
In the meantime, Wilson asked reporters “to understand that our ethical obligations and guidelines do not allow us to release the facts leading to the arrest of Mr. Collison.”
One fact that would register as a surprise would be if alcohol was involved.
Collision, 28, is a Jehovah’s Witness, a faith that frowns strongly on overindulgence, and he and his family live around the corner from the Kingdom Hall on Berg Street.
An elder at the Granite Bay hall who only gave his name as Larry vouched for Collison as a practicing member of the congregation.
“Very friendly,” Larry said of Collison. “Cordial, and so forth. He seemed to be respected by everyone.”
Collison’s wife did not attend the meetings with the same frequency of her husband, but, “I’ve seen her a few times,” Larry said.
Besides booking Collison on suspicion of felony domestic abuse, Placer sheriff’s deputies attached a misdemeanor warrant saying he was a wanted man for driving on a suspended license. Sheriff’s spokeswoman Dena Erwin said the April 29 warrant stemmed from his failure to appear on a traffic citation in November.
Erwin did not have details on the November citation. Portanova, the lawyer, said it did not involve alcohol or DUI. Instead, Portanova said, the Department of Motor Vehicles had mailed an old traffic ticket to an address where Collison no longer lives, which made it difficult for him to respond.
“It’s a technical thing we’re going to repair very quickly,” Portanova said.
It’s really a misunderstanding, and we’re working to straighten it out. This is genuinely one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met, and we will be working closely with the family.
Bill Portanova, attorney for Darren Collison
The NBA had other things on its mind Wednesday, a day before the NBA Finals between the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers begins in Oakland, but league spokesman Mike Bass said the organization also will make time for the Collison case.
“We’re in contact with the Sacramento Kings and local law enforcement, and we are in the process of gathering further information,” Bass said.
Bass referred to the most recent NBA case of its kind, against former Charlotte Hornets swingman Jeff Taylor, to get a picture on the league’s domestic violence policy. Taylor received a 24-game suspension for his 2014 conviction for domestic assault and malicious wrecking of a hotel room in East Lansing, Mich.
“Domestic violence is a serious societal issue that is antithetical to any community or organization that prides itself on the values of respect for others, good moral character, and common decency,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said at the resolution of the Taylor case. “These values are central to the NBA, and domestic violence is an issue that is commanding our full attention.”
That was Taylor. This is Collison. Let’s see how it plays out.