The gossip web rag TMZ released video this morning of Ray Rice punching his then-fiancee Janay Palmer in the elevator of the Revel Casino in Atlantic City. I’m not going to embed the video in this post; if you are curious enough to actually see it you can Google it and see several versions of it that are variously enhanced. It appears to Palmer and Rice as they enter the elevator (where Palmer apparently swats at Rice while he is walking in front of her). Then the two enter the elevator and Palmer stands in front of the buttons apparently pushing the button for their floor. Rice approaches her to the side, and she raises her arm as if to push him away. At least potentially, this motion struck him in the face, and Rice appears to strike her once in response and move to the other side of the elevator. Then Palmer advances towards Rice and in the only truly clear action of the whole video, Rice unleashes a brutal left hook which knocks Palmer to the ground, unconscious.
The release of the video has touched off a firestorm of activity. The Ravens have unceremoniously released Rice and the NFL has announced that in light of this “new evidence,” Rice has been suspended from the league indefinitely.
The problem with all of this posturing is that the video released by TMZ does not really constitute new – or at least probative – evidence at all. We already knew from the uncontested testimony of eyewitnesses that Palmer and Rice entered the elevator together under their own power. We already knew from the previously released video that when the elevator reached their floor, Rice was seen dragging the apparently unconscious Palmer down the hall to their hotel room. We know from the fact that Rice pled guilty to assaulting Palmer that Palmer did not just suffer from a fainting spell in that elevator. And we know from Rice’s own admission that he struck Palmer in that elevator. So the video that was released today revealed literally no new information that was not previously known and in fact uncontested.
But we humans are weird creatures. It is one thing to know, intellectually, that Ray Rice knocked a woman unconscious in a hotel elevator. It is another thing to actually see it happen. Back when we all knew that Ray Rice had knocked Janay …read more