Seahawks wide receiver Brian Blades was charged Tuesday with manslaughter in the shooting death of his cousin.
Blades, 29, said at a news conference last week that the death of Charles Blades, his 34-year-old cousin, was accidental. Under Florida law, manslaughter is a second-degree felony defined as the killing of a human being through negligence or without lawful justification.
The police said they believe that Brian Blades shot his cousin in the neck with a .380-caliber Walther semiautomatic handgun early on July 5 at Brian’s home. Ballistics tests indicate the shooting was from close range, “no more than four feet away,” Plantation Sgt. Michael Price said.
In a 911 telephone call on July 5, Blades indicated the gun had gone off by accident.
Blades was in Seattle Tuesday preparing for the opening of training camp when he was informed by his Miami-based agent, Drew Rosenhaus, of the manslaughter charge. Blades, who will be 30 Monday, is said to be returning to south Florida to turn himself in.
Bond has been set at $10,000. A conviction for manslaughter in Florida is punishable by up to 15 years in prison, according to the state attorney’s office.
After what they described as many interviews with friends of Blades, the police have put together an account of what they believe led to the shooting. The police said Brian Blades and his brother, Bennie, who plays safety for the Detroit Lions, went out the night of July 4 with Lorenzo Johnson, Wilbur Peterson and Charles Blades.
They were called back to Bennie Blades’s house by receiving word that a former girlfriend of Bennie Blades wanted to pick up the child that Bennie had fathered.
During a dispute between Bennie and his former girlfriend, Brian “interfered,” according to the police report. When Bennie shoved Brian, friends said an angry Brian went to get his gun.
Charles Blades went after him in an attempt to discourage him, the report said. When Johnson and Peterson arrived at Brian Blades’s townhouse a little later, Johnson told the police, he heard Brian say, “Let loose the gun,” as he and his cousin struggled.
Peterson told the police he heard Charles Blades say, “Put the gun down.”
Then a shot was heard, the report said, the one that apparently killed Charles Blades.
Johnson told the police that he and Peterson went to alert others. When they got back, they heard another shot. The police said that shot was responsible for a bullet hole found in the top of Charles Blades’s office desk. Soon after the second shot was fired, the police said, Brian made a 911 telephone call.
Peterson told the police he then struggled with Brian while trying to calm him down. Then Peterson made a call to 911. During that call, he said Blades picked up the handgun and pulled the trigger, although it was not clear where the gun was pointed. The chamber was empty, the police said, thus no shot was fired.
Rosenhaus said: “Brian is disappointed and shocked by this development today. He knows in his heart that he’s innocent and that it was an accident. He’s convinced that he’ll have an opportunity at some point to prove that.”
Blades’s attorney, Bruce Zimet, said: “It’s our impression that this is a case that ultimately will go to the grand jury, and they will determine if it goes any further.”
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