Over the past decade, professional teams from all corners and endeavors have made a great effort to enforce penalties on players who are accused of domestic violence.
Hardly a day goes by anymore without some story about an athlete who has been arrested or questioned about an incident in which they have either struck a woman or threatened physical violence.
But on Tuesday, the issue took on a different twist when a WNBA player was suspended by the league.
Los Angeles Sparks’ Riquna Williams has been benched for 10 games as a result of a domestic violence incident involving her ex-girlfriend in December.
Williams was arrested in April on felony charges of burglary with assault or battery and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon without intent to kill after a December incident.
According to police records, Williams hit her ex-girlfriend, Alkeria Davis, in the head and pulled her hair after Davis opened the front door of her home.
A man who was at the house broke up the fight, but that did not deter Williams. She allegedly went to her car, grabbed a gun and pointed it at the man and called out “you’ll get all 18 (bullets) before fleeing.
According to Sports Illustrated, an officer from the Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office was called to the home to investigate a report of a domestic violence act. The police account listed three victims: Davis, Antonio Wilson and Wilson’s 10-year-old son.
Davis and Wilson were in the house when Williams arrived at about 5 p.m. Williams allegedly slammed a car belonging to Davis with a skateboard then tried to get into the house by hitting the outside door with the skateboard.
While this was going on, Williams was yelling at Davis, who says she dated Williams for nearly six years and had just broken up with her. The report claims Williams forced her way inside the house and went after Davis, striking her multiple times with a clenched fist.
Wilson and his 10-year-old son broke up the fight, but Davis had already sustained injuries to her head and scalp. This is when Williams went outside to her car and pulled out a firearm and placed it on the trunk facing Wilson. She put her hand on the gun and threatened to shoot him.
On Sunday, Williams, a 2015 All-Star, played 40 minutes and scored a team-high 23 points in the Sparks’ 76-71 win over the Atlanta Dream.
The WNBA has dealt with this kind of thing before. In 2015, it suspended superstar Brittney Griner and her then-fiancé, Glory Johnson, each for seven games after both were arrested on suspicion of assault and disorderly conduct. Until Williams’ case, the seven-game suspension was the longest in league history.
The NBA’s longest suspension for domestic violence was in 2014 when Charlotte Hornets forward Jeffrey Taylor was benched for 24 games after pleading guilty to misdemeanor domestic assault and misdemeanor malicious destruction of property.
The WNBA’s league office said in a statement it had conducted an investigation and spoken to domestic violence experts. Williams must also submit to counseling sessions.
“Based on the investigation, consultation, and a careful weighing of all the facts and circumstances, the WNBA determined that a ten-game suspension was appropriate,” the league said. “Among other factors, the WNBA took into account the nature and seriousness of the conduct at issue, including the involvement of a firearm.”
This is Williams seventh WNBA season. She was re-signed by the team in May despite the pending charges. In 15 games, she is averaging 11.5 points this season.
“I’m just thankful to have the opportunity again, from coach (Derek) Fisher and (general manager) Penny (Toler) and the L.A. organization,” she told the Associated Press after the signing, “It definitely has not been a distraction, mainly because you have such a positive group in L.A., starting at the top of the organization down to the players. It’s such a family feel and the love, you can’t help but to move forward from it. Whatever’s gonna happen is gonna happen, but at the same time this is my focus.”