SANTA CLARA (CBS SF) — The San Francisco 49ers announced Sunday that Reuben Foster — who has been charged with felony domestic violence and possession of an assault weapon — will not participate in the team’s off-season drills slated to start this week.
In a short statement, the team said Foster’s role with the team “will be determined by the information revealed during the legal process.”
“Reuben Foster will not participate in team activities as he is tending to his legal matters,” the statement read. “As previously stated, his future with the team will be determined by the information revealed during the legal process.”
The Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office said the charges stem from a violent attack on his live-in girlfriend at the couple’s Los Gatos home on Feb. 11th.
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Prosecutors said Foster was charged with three felonies — domestic violence with an allegation that he inflected great bodily injury, forcefully preventing a victim from reporting a crime and illegal possession of an assault weapon.
The 28-year-old is also charged with misdemeanor possession of a large caliber weapon. If found guilty, he could be sentenced to 11 years in prison.
Foster appeared in Santa Clara County Superior Court for arraignment Thursday afternoon.
“Our focus is on holding accountable those who hurt their intimate partners,” said deputy DA Kevin Smith in a prepared statement. “Our office handles between four and five thousand domestic violence cases each year. We only hope that this case illuminates the tragic regularity of the rest.”
The 49ers, who cut then starting cornerback Tremaine Brock in 2017 after he was arrested on domestic violence charges, said Foster would remain on the team roster for now.
“The 49ers organization is aware of today’s disturbing charges regarding Reuben Foster,” the team said in a prepared statement. “We will continue to follow this serious matter. Reuben is aware that his place in our organization is under great scrutiny and will depend on what is learned through the legal process.”
49ers’ cornerback Richard Sherman also attended the brief court hearing, telling reporters, “I’m here to support a teammate.”
Investigators said the alleged assault by Foster left his live-in girlfriend bruised and with a ruptured ear drum.
According to the DA’s office, on Feb. 11th the victim flagged down a stranger’s car driving on Shannon Road in Los Gatos and asked for help. When officers arrived, the girlfriend told them that Foster had dragged by her hair, physically threw her out of the house and punched her 8-10 times in the head.
She was taken to a local hospital and treated for her injuries.
A subsequent search of the couple’s home uncovered an assault weapon — a Sig Sauer 516 — along with a large capacity magazine. Both are illegal to possess in California.
It wasn’t the first time Foster — the 49ers first round draft pick in 2017 — has run into trouble with the law since his rookie season ended. he was arrested in mid-January while being back in Tuscaloosa, Ala. where he starred for the University of Alabama Crimson Tide. He has been charged with second-degree marijuana possession.
Foster could face a six-game suspension from the NFL if he is formally charged with domestic violence. A second charge could lead to a lifetime ban.
Former prosecutor and legal analyst Steven Clark told KPIX 5 one big question mark is whether Foster’s girlfriend will testify against him in court.
“In the eventuality that the complaining party does not want to testify in court, you will see the DA proceed anyway because this is such an important case nationally because of the involvement of the NFL and the issue of domestic violence and athletes,” said Clark.
Foster is coming off an outstanding rookie season despite suffering an ankle sprain that sidelined him for five games. He was named the NFL’s Defensive Rookie of the Month for November and finished the season ranked second on the team in tackles (72).