Seattle Seahawks offensive lineman Chad Wheeler has been dropped from the team amid a domestic violence allegation and arrest in Washington state last week.
Wheeler, 27, was arrested by Kent Police on Friday after a friend of a woman called 911 to report she was locked in a bathroom following a fight, according to a police report. The report stated the woman called 911 shortly after to say “she was being ‘killed’” and was heard screaming as officers arrived at the scene.
The woman is considered a possible victim of domestic abuse and is not being identified by NBC News.
Officers forced their way into the apartment where they found both Wheeler and the woman locked inside, the report said. The woman’s face was covered in blood and she was holding her left arm to her body, crying in pain, according to the report.
Officers arrested Wheeler, who resisted officers and said “’I don’t beat women!’ after eventually being detained, according to the report.
The woman told officers that she was aware that Wheeler had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and had been not taking his medication recently. She informed officers that Wheeler had a “rough week” and appeared to be having a manic episode, the report said.
Wheeler allegedly strangled the woman with both hands but removed one at one point to cover her mouth and nose to impair her breathing, the Kent police report stated. He also allegedly held her down when she began fighting back and the woman lost consciousness for an unknown period of time, according to the report.
When she woke up, she heard Wheeler say “Wow, you’re alive?” She then ran to the bathroom, the report said.
Wheeler’s bail was set at $400,000 and was released Tuesday morning, according to county jail records. It is unclear if he has retained a lawyer. Wheeler’s agent did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Wheeler issued a statement Wednesday apologizing to the woman and explained that “events happened” over the weekend while he was “in a manic episode.” Wheeler also apologized to his family and teammates and said that he will be seeking help.
“It is time for me to walk away from football and get the help I need to never again pose a threat to another,” Wheeler said. “I cannot express my sorrow or remorse enough. I am truly ashamed.”
The Seattle Seahawks had Wheeler listed on their roster as of Wednesday morning, but announced in the afternoon that Wheeler is no longer with the team.
“The Seahawks are saddened by the details emerging against Chad Wheeler and strongly condemn this act of domestic violence,” the team said. “Our thoughts and support are with the victim. Chad is a free agent and no longer with the team.”
Wheeler was set to go into restricted free agency beginning in March.
The NFL said in a statement that it was aware of the matter and reviewing it under the league’s personal conduct policy.
In 2015, Los Angeles police officers were called to an incident involving Wheeler after the lineman was allegedly punching walls and windows, which injured his hands. Wheeler got into an altercation with officers and was hit with bean bag rounds, NBC News reported at the time.
Wheeler, who was playing for the University of Southern California at the time, was not arrested, but instead transported to a local hospital where he was held for a psychiatric evaluation.
Studies have shown that mental illness on its own is not necessarily linked to a significant increase in violent behavior. Only 3 to 5 percent of violent acts can be attributed to individuals with mental health disorders, according to Mentalhealth.gov, a website for the Department of Health and Human Services.
The New York Giants signed Wheeler as an undrafted free agent in 2017 and he was later signed in 2019 to the Seahawks.
Doha Madani is a breaking news reporter for NBC News.
Andrew Blankstein is an investigative reporter for NBC News. He covers the Western United States, specializing in crime, courts and homeland security.