PHOENIX (June 29, 2005) -- Baltimore Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs was acquitted of an assault charge from a playground altercation.
"I wasn't shocked when I heard the verdict," Suggs said. "You all have watched me grow up here. I've never once been in trouble."
Suggs, who left Arizona State early, was the No. 10 pick in the 2003 NFL draft.
He said accuser Jeryme Cook was trying to lay the groundwork to sue for damages.
"That used to be my best friend, so why -- unless he did something to me -- would I try to harm him?" Suggs said. "We played on the Arizona Swat team, basketball team, we spent the night at each other's houses. He walked one path, and I walked another."
The Maricopa County Superior Court jury acquitted Suggs of one count of aggravated assault. Another felony assault count was filed after the incident March 29, 2003, but Judge Michael Wilkinson dismissed it last week.
The jury also exonerated Suggs' younger brother, Donald, of two counts of aggravated assault for allegedly using a baseball bat in the brawl.
The case sprang from an argument between Cook and the Suggs brothers near basketball courts set up for a three-on-three tournament at Phoenix Municipal Stadium. It escalated to violence in a parking lot, where Suggs claimed he was hit over the head with an iron rod.
According to testimony, the brothers then beat up Cook and friends Casey Cothern and Anthony Henrie.
On June 27, a mutual friend of Terrell Suggs and Cook testified that Cook told him he was planning to sue for big money, and Donald Suggs testified that he wrested the bat from one of the men who pressed charges.
The verdicts came after 1½ days of deliberations in the two-week trial.