Former NFL cornerback Dimitri Patterson, who went AWOL from the New York Jets last August and was released amid mysterious circumstances, is facing a felony child abuse charge stemming from an Aug. 1 altercation at a South Florida shopping mall, according to police and court records obtained by ESPN.com.
Patterson, 32, met a former girlfriend for a custody exchange of their 1-year-old son and an argument ensued over child support payments, according to an Aventura Police Department report.
The alleged incident ended with the child suffering a bruise to the back of the head, police said. The woman, Erika Medina, 28, who told police she dated Patterson for four years, suffered redness to her neck area and a cut to her left elbow.
Medina told police that Patterson displayed "an aggressive tone," so she began recording Patterson on her cellphone. She wanted to document it because Patterson had been "violent to her in the past," the incident report said. She also tried to take a picture of his license plate.
While placing the boy in the back seat of the car, Medina told Patterson to calm down, warning him that he wouldn't allow him to take the child.
Patterson "grabbed her around her neck and threw her to the ground," according to the incident report. "While this occurred, [Medina] was holding [the boy]. This action caused [him] to fall also and hit his head."
Police said Patterson left the scene with his 8-year-old daughter, who witnessed the altercation. A 911 call was placed to police. An eyewitness who works at the shopping mall corroborated the account with a statement to police. Medina and the boy were treated at the scene by a fire-rescue unit.
The Sunny Isles Beach Police Department tracked down Patterson at his home in Sunny Isles Beach, and he was taken into custody and booked. In addition to child abuse, he was charged with misdemeanor battery. An Aug. 31 hearing date is scheduled.
Patterson could not be reached for comment, and a message left at his home number wasn't returned. Drew Rosenhaus, listed by the NFL Players Association as Patterson's agent, said in an email that he no longer represents him.
Patterson, who played for six teams in a 10-year career, was out of football last season. The Jets signed him as a free agent with a $1 million signing bonus, immediately making him a starter. He was given No. 24, previously (and currently) worn by star cornerback Darrelle Revis.
The Jets were blindsided when Patterson never showed up for a preseason game at MetLife Stadium. He was AWOL for 48 hours, prompting the team to suspend him indefinitely. Patterson fired back at the Jets in a statement, taking umbrage with their version of the events.
Eight days after the team confirmed he was missing, Patterson was released. A reason for absence never was given by the Jets or Patterson.
He worked out for the Detroit Lions last September, but that didn't result in a contract. He hasn't played in a regular-season game since 2013, but his occupation on the police incident report is listed as "football."