Friends of Delonte West say they are trying to help the former NBA star after a video surfaced Monday showing West handcuffed and shirtless on the side of a road just outside of Washington.
In the video, which was posted on Twitter, an unidentified man asks West why he had just been attacked and whether he had been acting in self-defense. West said he was walking down the street in Maryland when a man approached him with a gun; he then says a number of unintelligible things.
Prince George’s County Police Chief Henry Stawinski told reporters Tuesday afternoon that the officer who recorded the interaction with a handcuffed West was suspended pending an investigation into how the footage was made public.
“In my view, I own that [ video ], this department owns that,” Stawinski said. “. . . That’s evidence, and it’s irresponsible for that to be placed in the hands of the public, particularly when you start identifying individuals who are still subject to a serious assault and investigation.”
Stawinski said the footage of the interaction appeared to be captured on a cellphone, not an officer-worn body camera.
Police said in an earlier news release that officers responded Monday at 9:45 a.m. to a report of a fight between two men. By the time officers arrived, the two men had been separated. After placing one of the men in handcuffs, a witness told officers that the handcuffed man, who appeared to be West, had used a glass bottle to hit the other man, who responded by throwing punches.
After speaking to both men, officers determined that the two knew each another and had gotten into a “protracted fight” earlier that morning, Stawinski said. That dispute was rekindled when one of the men spotted the other walking.
Neither man was identified by Prince George’s police in their statement. Both declined to press charges, neither would cooperate with detectives and both declined to be taken to a hospital. Stawinski said investigators who interviewed the combatants determined that neither posed an immediate threat to himself or others.
Aaron Goodwin, West’s former agent, told TMZ that the handcuffed person in the video was West and that he was recovering with family members. Stawinski said he’d been told that the handcuffed man was “lucid and calm and communicating and able to answer questions clearly” by the end of the interaction, though that isn’t shown on the video.
I think it would be great for the @nba to go and find Delonte West and force him to get help!!! They have the resources and they have been doing a great job with Current Players for as Mental Health and now it’s time for them to show the same love to Former Players!
— Kendrick Perkins (@KendrickPerkins) January 21, 2020
Jameer Nelson, who starred alongside West at Saint Joseph’s University from 2001 to 2004, wrote Monday night on Twitter that he was troubled by the images of West and that he would “help him get through this.”
— Jameer Nelson (@jameernelson) January 21, 2020
Phil Martelli, who coached West and Nelson at Saint Joseph’s, wrote later on Twitter that he and others “are reaching out to our basketball network to get the professional help Delonte needs. This is so very painful.”
West has long struggled with bipolar disorder. In February 2016, he was wandering around a Jack in the Box in Houston without shoes. Last September, West was photographed on a street in Dallas, allegedly homeless.
West, 36, last played in the NBA for the Dallas Mavericks during the 2011-12 season. His attempts at a comeback never advanced past short stints in what was then known as the NBA Development League, along with brief forays into professional basketball in China and Venezuela.
In 2015, West told The Washington Post that doctors first diagnosed his bipolar disorder after a 2008 preseason game in which he lashed out at a referee. In September 2009, West was pulled over for an improper lane change as he rode his motorcycle not far from his home in Fort Washington, Maryland. Police found three guns, all of them loaded – a Beretta 9mm in West’s waistband, a Ruger .357 magnum strapped to his leg and a shotgun in a guitar case slung over his back. West pleaded guilty to two of the eight charges he faced and was sentenced to eight months of home detention, two months of probation and 40 hours of community service.
During the 2011 NBA lockout, West applied for a job at a Home Depot and worked briefly at a furniture store in Brandywine, Maryland.
According to Maryland court records, the state won a tax-lien judgment against West and his wife for more than $96,000 in December 2018. That case is active. West made more than $16 million over his eight-season NBA career.