Tape shows T-Wolves' Griffin saying he was drunk after crash

Updated: June 30, 2006, 7:23 PM ET
Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS -- A convenience store videotape recorded after a March crash involving Eddie Griffin shows the Minnesota Timberwolves forward telling store employees that he was drunk and he didn't want to go to jail.

In a statement released Friday, Griffin said he regrets the incident and "would like to apologize to my family, my teammates, and the community for any embarrassment that my actions may have caused."

Griffin also said the motives behind the allegations and the release of the videotape should be questioned. The owner of the vehicle that Griffin allegedly damaged and the owner's brother are suing Griffin and the city, claiming Griffin tried to bribe them and that their civil rights were violated by the police handling of the case.

The plaintiffs' attorney provided the tape to several Twins Cities media outlets.

In the early morning of March 30, Griffin, 24, hit a car near the intersection of University and 6th Avenues. Witnesses said Griffin then went into a convenience store and told employees he was drunk.

Portions of a store videotape viewed by The Associated Press on WCCO-TV's Web site backs up those statements. It shows Griffin saying he was drunk and that he didn't want to go jail. The tape also shows that Griffin offered to buy the owner of the damaged sport utility vehicle any type of new car or truck he wanted, "but not a Bentley."

The Star Tribune reported that it had viewed the entire 50-minute videotape, which shows a Minneapolis police officer saying, "He's not getting a DWI," and "We're taking him home to St. Paul."

The police report filed after the incident said the crash happened because Griffin wasn't paying attention to the road. Griffin received misdemeanor citations for driving without a license and for inattentive driving.

Several witnesses said they told Officers Daniel Anderson and Matthew Lindquist that Griffin was drunk, but the police report does not say whether officers gave Griffin blood-alcohol or field-sobriety tests. Police are investigating whether the officers violated department policy when they drove Griffin to his St. Paul home -- officers must contact a supervisor before leaving city limits.

An internal investigation is under way to determine whether the officers acted properly. Police administration could not comment because of that investigation, according to a department spokesman.

A lawsuit filed Thursday in Ramsey County District Court alleges that Griffin was watching a pornographic DVD in his sport utility vehicle and masturbating at the time of the crash. The lawsuit was filed by Jamal Hassuneh, the owner of the damaged vehicle, and his brother, Lindsey.

"People should remember that many of the allegations that have been made public are part of a civil lawsuit in which the owner of the car is attempting to paint me in the most negative way possible," Griffin said in his statement. "Just because these outrageous allegations have been made, does not make them truthful and one should question his motivation."

The lawsuit seeks at least $50,000 in compensatory damages. It also alleges Griffin was drunk and tried to bribe them into canceling a 911 call to police. It accuses Interim Police Chief Timothy Dolan and the responding officers of violating their civil rights by improperly investigating the incident.

The plaintiffs are demanding a jury trial.

An attorney for the Hassunehs, Michael Padden, called Griffin's contention that some of the allegations may not be true "is about as absurd as his conduct."

"Considering the level of his intoxication, one wonders who he thinks he can even be in a position to refute anything. As a start, perhaps he should watch the store video in full to refresh his memory of that evening," Padden said.

Griffin said that the allegations were made public only after Hassuneh's "unsuccessful attempt to get me to pay him an outrageous sum of money."

Timberwolves spokesman Mike Cristaldi said the team had no comment, and the lawsuit was an issue between Griffin and the plaintiffs.

Griffin, who joined the Timberwolves in October 2004, had undergone alcohol abuse treatment in the past.

He was drafted by New Jersey in 2001 and was traded to the Houston Rockets, where he played two seasons. In fall 2003, the Rockets suspended him for missing practices and a team flight, and that same week, he was arrested for marijuana possession.

Later that year, he was charged with felony assault for allegedly beating and shooting a gun at a woman in his Houston home. That charge was pleaded down to a misdemeanor, but Griffin violated his probation and was sentenced to 15 days in jail last summer.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press

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