Ex-NFL wide receiver Henry Ruggs III was the subject of extraordinary social media attention and scrutiny when back in November 2021, the Oakland Raiders wide receiver caused a fatal car crash in Vegas while he was driving at speeds police say reached 156 mph on a city street.
Witnesses say Ruggs’ 2020 Corvette veered into a right lane and struck the back of a Toyota RAV4 driven by a woman identified as 23-year-old Tina Tintor, killing her and her dog.
It was also reported that Ruggs III was driving under the influence. Reports said that he refused to take a breathalyzer, but police got a warrant from a judge to draw Ruggs’ blood at the hospital. His blood alcohol level was allegedly two times the legal limit. He was then charged with DUI resulting in death and reckless driving.
To most it appeared to be a open-and-shut case. A tragic situation of how a young, rich, undisciplined athlete drove drunk and took a life, effectively ending his NFL career.
Ruggs’ lawyers aren’t going to take his legal situation lying down and argue that police “lacked basis” for obtaining a warrant to gather the WR’s blood without his consent. Because a field sobriety test was not performed on Ruggs at the scene of the crash, that leaves some room for his defense team to exploit holes in the handling of Ruggs’ situation that fateful day.
According to ESPN, the document from Ruggs’ defense team also notes that a police officer asked his sergeant what to do without an impairment finding. The sergeant is reportedly recorded on bodycam audio responding that, “driving behavior and death alone is going to get you a warrant all day,” the court filing said.
“True probable cause did not exist,” his attorneys said via ESPN.com. “The mere fact of Mr. Ruggs’s involvement in a fatal vehicle collision does not, in itself, give rise to probable cause to believe he was driving under the influence of alcohol.”
Ruggs isn’t totally out of the game yet. In fact, this legal process is just getting started and it looks like a made-for-court TV extravaganza with a masterful and exhausting display of legal gymnastics.
A Las Vegas judge pushed back a preliminary hearing to determine whether Ruggs should stand trial in state court on felony DUI and reckless driving charges to September 7th. The judge scheduled a July 12 hearing on the evidence question.
The 23-year-old former first round pick out of NCAA football factory Alabama also suffered injuries, the extent of which have yet to be revealed.
The crash cost Ruggs — who is currently under house arrest in Las Vegas with electronic GPS and alcohol monitors — the remaining of his $16M rookie contract, so at this point his lawyers are trying to limit the damage done to his potential career and also keep him out of prison.
Ruggs, who led the Raiders with 469 yards receiving and two TDs through seven games before the tragic crash, faces a mandatory two years in state prison and up to 50 years if he’s convicted. Ruggs also is charged with misdemeanor gun possession after police reported finding a loaded handgun in his demolished Chevrolet Corvette.
— Ari Meirov (@MySportsUpdate) November 4, 2021
The case is not only tragic on so many levels, but a PR nightmare for the NFL.
Of course, social media hasn’t been too supportive of Ruggs under the circumstances and the battle between moving on in his life and the people who don’t want us to forget the victim Tina Tintor and her dog is a consistent tug-of-war that should figure prominently if this goes to trial.