The parents of 49ers football player Ray McDonald spoke publicly for the first time since prosecutors decided not to charge the defensive end with felony domestic violence, criticizing the police for the information they released, saying it caused their 30-year-old son to get "slaughtered by the lynch mob."
Speaking to NBC Bay Area by phone on Friday, LaBrina McDonald said she and her husband, Ray McDonald Sr., were tired of keeping quiet. McDonald Sr. said the police released information in "bits and pieces" to make everyone think that his son "attacked" his pregnant girlfriend when "that was totally wrong." He chastised the police, saying they didn't have the "full facts."
"We are a very close family and we come from a close knit community," added LaBrina McDonald. "And we know our son. To hear and read all those things that folks are saying and prejudging — it's heart-breaking. We had to grit our teeth and bite our tongues until this was all done and over."
The San Jose police responded to media requests for a response to the criticism Friday by issuing a three-paragraph statement citing the mandatory disclosure of the California Public Records Act, which include police reports.
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"Based on the overwhelming request by various media outlets for police records regarding the Ray McDonald case, the San Jose Police Department complied with state law," police said.
The statement also added that police are "very cautious and sensitive about the information we provide to the media and the public because we do not want to interfere with an active and ongoing investigation. Many times we are precluded from sharing very intimate details about an investigation because we must allow the investigators to conduct their followup investigations."
The McDonalds decided to speak out after the Santa Clara County district attorney's office announced Monday that it wouldn't prosecute the 49er, who was arrested Aug. 31 after a birthday party he threw himself at his San Jose home.
The police news release at the time cited "visible injuries" to a woman officers accused McDonald of harming, but an internal DA memo released this week showed there was "insufficient evidence" and conflicting testimony to charge him with any crime.
There was indeed a fight, the prosecutors noted, where McDonald told his then 10-weeks-pregnant girlfriend she was an "unfit mother." But when the punch flew, both McDonald and the woman said she threw it, according to the document.
McDonald "grabbed her neck" to remove her from the house, which "resulted in a visible injury," the memo says. The action was used to restrain her, according to the documents. She told police that she was "fighting back." The prosecutor's memo describes the injuries as "seemingly minor" and characterizes the fight as a scuffle, "rather than an attack."
"He only restrained her," Ray McDonald Sr. said. "That was it."
Neither parent would not comment on their son's relationship with the woman at the center of the fight. They would not identify her, and would not answer whether she and their son still intended to get married. "You'll have to ask Ray," LaBrina McDonald said.
Ray McDonald told CSNBayArea that he was "doing stuff to try to better our relationship... because we do care about each other, love each other."
It was the "visible injuries" line that irks the McDonald parents, who own an insurance company in Florida and have one other child, a 32-year-old daughter.
"This basically led the public to believe that he hit or attacked her," the family said in a statement first issued to the Mercury News. "The fact that no additional information was given in this press release, in our opinion was very irresponsible and leads us to question the integrity of the ranking individuals that approved this press release."
NBC Bay Area was the second news outlet to obtain that statement and also an exclusive video interview with both parents from the airport on Friday as the couple was heading to Jamaica to celebrate their 33rd wedding anniversary.
LaBrina McDonald said that it was hard as a mother to watch her son's name be tarnished — a son she described as laidback, a "big teddy bear," a "Mama's boy," and a talented piano player.
Since she's a "big talker," LaBrina McDonald said it was especially hard for her not to tell her friends what happened from her son's point of view that night. Ray McDonald Sr. said it was his son who counseled them "to be patient," saying that soon, "the truth will come out."
For the McDonald parents, they are only too happy that there were no charges filed against their son.
"He's a loving person," LaBrina McDonald said. "Just because he makes a lot of money and is a defensive lineman doesn't mean he's a bad person."