Chad Wheeler, an N.F.L. offensive lineman who played five games with the Seattle Seahawks this season, is facing three criminal charges after his arrest last week on suspicion of felony domestic violence.
Wheeler was released by the Seahawks on Wednesday, soon after prosecutors formally charged him with first-degree domestic violence assault, a felony; domestic violence unlawful imprisonment, a felony; and resisting arrest, a misdemeanor. In their charging papers, prosecutors in King County, Wash., said Wheeler “viciously attacked the victim” and strangled her.
Wheeler, 27, was arrested early Saturday morning and released from King County Jail on Tuesday after posting a $400,000 bond. Wheeler will be arraigned on Feb. 9 in Kent, Wash., where he lives. Prosecutors asked that Wheeler wear a GPS tracking device on his ankle.
According to the prosecutor’s charging papers, Wheeler attacked his girlfriend in her bedroom, strangling her at times with both hands until she lost consciousness. After she awoke, he strangled her again until she became unconscious. She told the police that when she tried to roll away from Wheeler, he grabbed her left arm and ripped her body back toward him.
When she awoke the second time, the woman told the police, Wheeler returned to the bedroom and said, “Oh, you’re still alive.” She then said she went into the bathroom, locked the door and sent text messages to her family, friends and Wheeler’s father, asking that they call 911. The woman also called 911 and told an operator she was being “killed.”
When the police arrived, Wheeler refused to be detained. Unable to put him in handcuffs, officers used a Taser. According to the charging papers, Wheeler said, “I don’t beat women,” and yelled to the woman that he loved her.
After the woman was taken to the hospital, doctors determined she had a fractured arm and a dislocated elbow. Her face was swollen in a way that doctors believed was the result of strangulation. The woman also had lesions on her neck, some in the shape of fingertips.
According to prosecutors, Wheeler is 6 feet 7 inches and 310 pounds and the woman is 5-foot-9 and 145 pounds.
The woman told the police she believed Wheeler had bipolar disorder and had not been taking his medication.
The N.F.L. said it was reviewing the case. After the league completes its investigation, Wheeler could be suspended or fined, if he was found to have violated the league’s personal conduct policy. If Wheeler is signed by another team before the investigation is completed, the league could put him on the commissioner’s exempt list, which would prohibit him from taking the field until the league’s investigation is complete.
“The Seahawks are saddened by the details emerging against Chad Wheeler and strongly condemn this act of domestic violence,” the team said in a statement Wednesday. “Our thoughts and support are with the victim.”
On Wednesday, Wheeler apologized via social media for what he called “a manic episode” and said he was leaving football.
“It is time for me to walk away from football and get the help I need to never again pose a threat to another,” he wrote on Twitter. “I cannot express my sorrow or remorse enough. I am truly ashamed.”
Wheeler was set to be a free agent in March, but by waiving him now, the Seahawks have cut ties with him. Wheeler started 19 games with the Giants in the 2017 and 2018 seasons.