San Francisco 49ers linebacker Reuben Foster was officially charged with felony domestic violence stemming from his February arrest after an incident involving his live-in girlfriend, the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s office announced Thursday morning.
Foster, 24, physically attacked the 28-year-old woman during an argument at their Los Gatos home, leaving her bruised and with a ruptured ear drum, according to the DA’s office. Foster is scheduled to be arraigned at 1:30 p.m. on Thursday at the Hall of Justice in San Jose.
According to the DA’s office, Foster faces felony charges of domestic violence with an allegation "he inflicted great bodily injury, forcefully attempting to prevent a victim from reporting a crime, and possession of an assault weapon.” All are felony charges. Foster is also charged with misdemeanor possession of a large capacity weapon magazine.
If convicted, Foster faces more than 11 years in prison, according to the DA’s office.
“Our focus is on holding accountable those who hurt their intimate partners,” prosecutor Kevin Smith said in a statement. “Our office handles between 4,000 and 5,000 domestic violence cases each year. We only hope that this case illuminates the tragic regularity of the rest.”
According to the DA’s office, the alleged victim flagged down a stranger’s car driving on Shannon Road to call police on Feb. 11. She told responding sheriff’s deputies and Los Gatos police that Foster dragged her by her hair, physically threw her out of the house, and punched her in the head eight to 10 times.
The alleged victim was taken to a local hospital, where she was treated for her injuries, and released, according to the DA’s report. In a subsequent search of Foster’s home, officers found a Sig Sauer 516 and a large capacity magazine. Both are illegal to possess in California. Foster was taken into custody and released on $75,000 bail.
Foster, a first-round draft pick of the 49ers a year ago, could also face discipline from the NFL under the league’s policies on personal conduct and substances of abuses.
Among the prohibited conduct stated in the policy: “Actual or threatened physical violence against another person, including dating violence, domestic violence, child abuse, and other forms of family violence.”
Said NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy, "We continue to monitor all developments in this matter, which is under review of the personal conduct policy."
It was Foster’s second arrest in the first two months after the completion of his rookie season. Foster was arrested in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, for second-degree possession of marijuana. His next scheduled court date in Alabama is May 2.
Jed York, 49ers CEO, acknowledged recently at the NFL owners meetings in Orlando, Florida, during an interview with NBC Sports Bay Area and The Athletic that Foster is running out of chances.
“We’d love Reuben to be on this team,” York said. “And we’d love him to participate for us, but if he’s not doing things off the field that allow us to be able to rely on him – or he’s doing something that we’re not comfortable with off the field and it’s proven that’s what’s going on, I think the guys have said, then you’re just going to have to move on.”
York admitted the 49ers have made some judgment errors in the past before the arrivals of general manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan. Aldon Smith, Ray McDonald and Bruce Miller were released after multiple run-ins with the law.
The 49ers released Tramaine Brock last spring – shortly after Lynch and Shanahan were hired -- just hours after he was arrested for alleged domestic violence. Two months after the alleged incident, the DA’s office filed felony charges against Brock. But two months after that, the case was dismissed and Brock was cleared of all charges due to insufficient evidence when the alleged victim refused to cooperate with authorities, according to the DA’s office.
“I think everything has to be case-by-case because no incident is the same and no situation is the same,” York said. “I think we have certainly made mistakes in the past because we’ve been too lenient.”
The 49ers’ first scheduled activity since the end of last season is Monday, when the club is scheduled to report for the opening of the nine-week offseason training program. Foster's status with the organization remains unclear. The 49ers did not immediately respond when asked to comment on the Santa Clara County DA office's announcement.
York said he has not spoken with Foster this offseason, but Lynch and Shanahan have been in regular contact with him.
“From my conversations with John and Kyle, I know Reuben is very cognizant of where his position is right now, and his time with the 49ers could potentially be over if he continues to do things outside of the team that aren’t what we want him to be a part of,” York said.