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NFL Star Adrian Peterson Won't Face Felony Charges After LAX Domestic Violence Arrest

Adrian Peterson, who most recently played for the Seattle Seahawks, was taken off a flight and arrested on felony domestic violence charges, but the Los Angeles District Attorney won't pursue those charges.

By Megan Carpentier
Adrian Peterson G

An NFL veteran was arrested at the Los Angeles International Airport on Sunday morning after being pulled off a flight headed for Houston.

Adrian Peterson, 36, was arrested on felony domestic violence charges on Sunday morning after an incident on a Houston-bound flight, the Los Angeles Police Department confirmed to the NFL. He was booked by the LAPD's Pacific Division and released on $50,000 bond later on Sunday.

On Tuesday afternoon, the Los Angeles District Attorney's office told TMZ Sports that they would not be pursuing felony charges in the case, but had referred the case to the Los Angeles City Attorney, which could opt to pursue misdemeanor charges.

The LAPD had reportedly responded to a call at the airport at 8:30 a.m. on Sunday after a Houston-bound plane was forced to return to its gate following "an alleged verbal and physical altercation between a male suspect and female victim." After investigating the incident and notifying the FBI, Peterson was taken into custody at 9:20 a.m. PT, ESPN reported, and the rest of passengers — including the woman — continued on to Houston.

A spokesperson for Adrian Peterson and his wife, Ashley Peterson, confirmed to NBC News on Monday that she was the woman in question, but referred to the incident on the plane as a "private misunderstanding" over Ashley Peterson's wedding ring.

On Tuesday afternoon, Ashley Peterson issued a statement on her Instagram account.

"On Sunday, Adrian and I had a verbal argument," the statement read. "Unfortunately, it was on an airplane. At no point did Adrian hit or strike me. This is a private matter between my husband and myself."

In an interview with Mark Berman of Houston Fox affiliate KRIV, Adrian Peterson described the incident in a similar way.

"Me and the wife got into an argument on the plane. That was pretty much the gist of it," Peterson said. "I ended up grabbing her hand and taking her ring off her finger."

"The state of California pressed charges because there was a scratch on her hand," he added. "Literally, that's why I went to jail... because the ring left a scratch on her finger."

Adrian Peterson additionally claimed that a woman seated behind them "made it more than it was and brought more attention to it."

"I know the headlines: 'domestic violence,'" he told Berman. "You'd think I beat her up or something. It was nothing like that."

"I don't hit women," he added. "It’s not that type of situation, and it just looks bad. I’ll deal with it and, God willing, get the charges dropped and move on.”

Adrian Peterson told Berman that the couple had been on their way back to Texas for a planned Super Bowl party.

Previous Instagram posts from both Adrian Peterson's and Ashley Peterson's accounts indicate that the two were in Los Angeles for festivities surrounding the Super Bowl, even though their flight to Houston was scheduled for Sunday morning.

Adrian Peterson is, according to the NFL, currently a free agent. He was released by the Tennessee Titans on Nov. 23 after just three games, the Associated Press reported, but was signed to the Seahawk's practice squad a week later, according to Sporting News. He played in just one game with the Seahawks this season before being put on the injured reserve list. 

In January, Peterson told reporters with the Seahawks that, despite Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll's suggestion that he consider coaching after retirement — and despite the back injury that's kept him sidelined — he still hoped to play in 2022. On Friday, he told the AP Pro Football podcast that he didn't believe he was ready to retire, though he hoped to stay in and play for Seattle.

The NFL noted in its release about Sunday's incident that this was Peterson's second brush with the law: In November 2014, he pleaded no contest to misdemeanor reckless assault as part of a plea deal that would eventually be expunged. Peterson reportedly struck his 4-year-old son repeatedly with a switch in May 2014 and was subsequently indicted on a charge of injuring a child, People reported at the time.

In a public statement issued after his September 2014 indictment by a grand jury, Peterson said "I disciplined my son the way I was disciplined as a child" and caused the injuries unintentionally. He indicated that he was reevaluating his disciplinary methods after the injuries and consultation with a psychologist.

He was suspended from the league until April 2015 following his sentencing in November, but that decision was overturned by a federal judge in February 2015, ABC News reported, after the players' union sued on his behalf arguing that the policy under which Peterson was issued a suspension wasn't in effect at the time of the incident.