Davenport charged with three misdemeanor counts

Pittsburgh Steelers backup tailback Najeh Davenport has been charged by Cleveland police with three misdemeanor counts in connection with an alleged Oct. 4 domestic incident.

Chief Michael McGrath said Thursday night that Davenport would
be given a chance to surrender for a court appearance on the
misdemeanors. If convicted, he could face a sentence of 14 months.

The charges grew out of an alleged dispute between Davenport and Anita Person, 27, of Cleveland, the mother of his 5-year-old child. The charges first were reported by the Fox affiliate in Cleveland and by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Cleveland police Lt. Thomas Stacho said Davenport, 28, has been charged with domestic violence, endangering children and unlawful restraint. The charges of domestic violence and endangering children, both first-degree misdemeanors, each carry a maximum sentence of six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. The unlawful restraint misdemeanor is a third-degree charge, with maximum punishment of 60 days in jail and a $500 fine.

According to police, Person said Davenport was picking up the
child for a court-approved visit and threatened to keep him. She
said Davenport drove off as she unbuckled the child's seatbelt and
then slapped and choked her and slammed her to the ground while she
held the boy.

According to Davenport, Person became upset over his plans to
seek custody. According to Davenport, she climbed into the back
seat of the moving car, kneeled on his 2-year-old son and grabbed
the 5-year-old, then scratched Davenport's face outside the car.

The 5-year-old suffered a swollen lip.

Pittsburgh first-year coach Mike Tomlin was asked about the incident following the team's victory over Seattle last Sunday, a game in which Davenport played well and scored a pair of touchdowns. Tomlin acknowledged the Steelers were aware that Davenport had been questioned by police but said that people should defer judgment until all of the facts were made public. The Steelers have a bye this week.

Davenport could not be reached for comment Friday. Messages were
left for him at the offices of the team and his agent. A phone
listing for Davenport rang unanswered.

A sixth-year veteran, Davenport signed with the Steelers in 2006 as an unrestricted free agent after playing for the Green Bay Packers the first four years of his career. The former University of Miami standout has appeared in 57 games and has 305 carries for 1,498 yards and 11 touchdowns.

As the primary backup to starting tailback Willie Parker, he has become an important part of the Pittsburgh offense this season and has rushed for 209 yards and three touchdowns on just 28 carries.

Information from ESPN.com senior writer Len Pasquarelli and The Associated was used in this report.