Attorneys for former New England Patriots star Aaron Hernandez asked a Florida judge today to suspend a civil lawsuit being brought by a friend who accuses Hernandez of shooting him in the face.
Alexander Bradley, 31, a friend of Hernandez’s who often ran errands for the former NFL tight end, filed suit in Florida against Hernandez in June alleging that Hernandez shot him in the face after the two had partied at a Miami strip club in February.
The Bradley shooting first came to light publicly in June, after Hernandez was arrested and charged with first-degree murder in the North Attleborough fatal shooting of another man, Odin Lloyd, 27, of Dorchester.
Hernandez, 23, has since been indicted on murder charges. He is being held without bail.
The legal team for Hernandez had until today to file a formal response to Bradley’s lawsuit. In a court filing submitted today, Stephen Gillman, a Florida-based attorney hired by Hernandez, argued for a stay of the case until Hernandez’s trial in the Lloyd slaying is complete.
“Aaron Hernandez respectfully requests the entry of an order staying this action pending a resolution of the Bristol County action,” Gillman wrote at the conclusion of his 12-page filing.
A clerk for US District Court Judge Kathleen Williams said it was unclear when she would rule on Hernandez’s request for a stay.
Without addressing the specifics of the case, Hernandez’s attorney’s argued that it would be impossible for Hernandez to participate in Bradley’s civil suit without potentially incriminating himself in the ongoing investigation into the Lloyd slaying.
According to a Florida police report, employees of a John Deere tractor store discovered Bradley near their store, on the ground in the fetal position, bleeding from the head with his eyes swollen shut on Feb. 13.
When questioned immediately after the shooting, Bradley told police he did not know who had shot him and refused to help them find his attacker, prompting them to close the investigation without making an arrest.
Four months later, Bradley named Hernandez as the shooter in the lawsuit. He is seeking more than $100,000 in damages.
A spokesman for the Palm Beach Sheriff’s Department confirmed that the investigation remains closed, even though Bradley has identified Hernandez as the shooter in the lawsuit.
Unless Bradley begins cooperating with Palm Beach law enforcement officials, Hernandez will not face criminal charges related to the shooting.
Bradley’s civil lawsuit says that he and Hernandez visited Tootsie’s strip club in Miami together and got into an argument while inside. While driving later toward Palm Beach, Hernandez pointed a gun at Bradley and fired — either intentionally or through extreme negligence, the lawsuit alleges. Bradley lost his right eye from the gunshot, underwent multiple surgeries, and is permanently disfigured.
Investigators in Massachusetts subpoenaed Bradley to appear in front of the grand jury that later indicted Hernandez on first-degree murder charges in the Lloyd slaying.
“It appears clear that the prosecutors in the Bristol County Grand Jury were attempting to construct a connection between the shooting of Mr. Lloyd and the allegations in [this case],” Gillman wrote.
Citing Hernandez’s constitutionally guaranteed right against self-incrimination, Gillman argued that forcing the former star tight end to participate fully in the civil case while the Lloyd murder case remains pending would violate his rights.
If Hernandez were to cite his Fifth Amendment right not to testify in the Bradley suit, a judge could issue a default judgement ruling against Hernandez, he added.
Bradley and Hernandez appear to have been closely connected prior to the shooting.
Just two weeks earlier, Massachusetts State Police arrested Bradley and charged him with drunken driving on Interstate 93 in Quincy, while Hernandez was a passenger in the car, according to court records. Bradley is accused of driving as fast as 105 miles per hour and “swerving violently,” records say.
When the trooper stopped the SUV that Bradley was driving near Exit 8 in Quincy, the passenger in the front yelled out, “Trooper, I’m Aaron Hernandez — it’s OK,” according to the police report.
Attorneys for both Hernandez and Bradley did not immediately return requests for comment on Hernandez’s request for a stay of the suit. Wesley Lowery can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @WesleyLowery.