SEATTLE — Former Seattle Seahawks offensive tackle Chad Wheeler was formally charged Wednesday following his arrest on suspicion of felony assault-domestic violence.
The King County prosecutor’s office filed criminal charges of first-degree domestic violence assault, domestic violence unlawful imprisonment and resisting arrest against Wheeler, a spokesperson with the office told ESPN. He is accused of twice choking his girlfriend until she lost consciousness.
Prosecutors requested that Wheeler be placed on electronic home detention and for his ankle monitoring device to be equipped with GPS monitoring.
Wheeler was scheduled to be arraigned Feb. 9, but a spokesperson with the King County prosecutor’s office said Thursday that the arraignment has been moved to Monday (Feb. 1). He is still expected to enter a plea at the time.
Earlier Wednesday, the Seahawks said that Wheeler, 27, is no longer with the team.
In a series of tweets Wednesday, Wheeler wrote that, “Events happened over the weekend that transpired from a manic episode. I am deeply sorry for the pain and suffering that I have caused to [the woman] and her family. I apologize profusely for the turmoil that I have caused to my family, teammates, fans and those closest to me. The most important thing right now is that [the woman] gets the care she needs and I get help. Both are happening.
“It is time for me to walk away from football and get the help I need to never again pose a threat to another. I cannot express my sorrow or remorse enough. I am truly ashamed.”
The Seahawks released a statement Wednesday that read, in part: “The Seahawks are saddened by the details emerging against Chad Wheeler and strongly condemn this act of domestic violence. Our thoughts and support are with the victim. Chad is a free agent and no longer with the team.”
Wheeler was waived by the team on Wednesday, per the NFL’s official transactions wire.
Wheeler was arrested late Friday evening after the alleged assault at an apartment in the Seattle suburb of Kent, where he and the woman had been living together since November.
According to an incident report and charging documents obtained by ESPN, the woman called 911 from inside a locked bathroom and said she was being “killed.” She told Kent police she had fled into the bathroom after Wheeler threw her onto a bed and choked her long enough for her to lose consciousness. At one point, she said, he removed one hand, stuck it down her throat and pressed it against her nose and mouth to try to stop her from breathing, while continuing to choke her with his other hand.
The woman briefly regained consciousness before Wheeler pinned her down and choked her back into unconsciousness, according to the charging documents. The woman recalled attempting to roll away from Wheeler, only for Wheeler to “violently grab her left arm and rip her body back toward him.”
The charging documents state that when the woman regained consciousness for the second time, Wheeler calmly returned to the bedroom and expressed surprise, saying to her, “Oh, you’re still alive.” She ran to the bathroom, locked it and sent text messages to friends and family — as well as Wheeler’s father — asking them to call 911. She said she heard Wheeler tell someone on the phone — she believed it was his father — that he was “just chillin’.” When the woman tried to flee out of a second door to the bathroom, Wheeler entered and began apologizing profusely, she said.
Police could hear a woman screaming from inside the apartment, the report states. They forced entry into the unit and then into the locked bathroom, where Wheeler was standing behind the woman. The report states that she was crying in pain, with her face covered in blood and her left arm swollen and limp against her body. She also had noticeable fingerprints on both sides of her neck, according to the report.
The woman was asked by one officer if she thought she was going to die and responded: “I thought I already had.”
The charging documents state that the 6-foot-7, 310-pound Wheeler did not comply with officers’ commands and that at least one Taser application was made directly to his body “with little effect.” As three officers attempted to detain him, Wheeler repeatedly yelled, “Sorry!” and said, “I don’t beat women!” He called out to the woman that he loved her. Wheeler refused to speak with officers, according to the report.
The woman was taken to a hospital because of pain in her left arm. Scans revealed a fractured humerus and dislocated elbow in the arm, according to the charging documents, which noted that the whites of her eyes having turned almost completely red was consistent with signs of strangulation. The documents state that a scan of the woman’s chest showed indications that she had aspirated fluid and that she vomited large amounts of blood the next day. She also reported a sore throat, difficulty swallowing and eating, headache and neck pain, “which suggests possible internal injuries to the structures within the neck.”
The woman told police that Wheeler, whom she has been dating for about six months, has bipolar disorder and that he had not been taking his medication recently. She said Wheeler had a “manic episode” that was not provoked by any sort of argument but rather began when he suddenly “snapped into a dark place” and told her to stand up and bow to him. He grabbed her by the neck and threw her onto the bed when she refused, the woman said.
“We encourage Chad to get the help he needs,” the Seahawks said in their statement, which also asked anyone experiencing domestic violence or mental illness to seek help.
Wheeler was booked into King County jail early Saturday morning and released Tuesday morning after posting a $400,000 bail bond. The King County Prosecutor’s office asked for Wheeler to be held on $500,000 bail. The judge set bail at $400,000 and ordered Wheeler to have no contact with the woman and to surrender any weapons. He appeared in court Monday to determine whether there was probable cause to continue holding him in jail.
First-degree domestic violence assault is a Class A felony in Washington, while domestic violence unlawful imprisonment is a Class C felony. If convicted, Wheeler could be sentenced to eight to 12 years in prison, according to prosecutors.
An NFL spokesperson told ESPN that the matter is under review of the league’s personal conduct policy. ESPN has reached out to Wheeler’s agent for comment.
Wheeler went undrafted out of USC in 2017 and spent parts of his first three seasons with the New York Giants, starting 19 games with the team. He joined the Seahawks in October 2019 and appeared in five games this past season. He was scheduled to become a restricted free agent before Seattle waived him Wednesday.
The Los Angeles Times reported that while at USC in December 2015, Wheeler was detained and then taken to a hospital for a psychiatric evaluation after police responded to a call that he was punching walls and windows while barricaded inside an apartment with a 20-year-old female friend and her 7-month-old son. Police subdued Wheeler by firing multiple bean-bag rounds, according to the report.