Former New York Giants star Plaxico Burress was indicted by a grand jury on weapons charges for shooting himself in the thigh at a Manhattan nightclub and faces a minimum prison sentence of 3½ years if convicted, prosecutors announced Monday.
The indictment charged the 31-year-old Burress with two counts of criminal possession of a weapon and one count of reckless endangerment, Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau said.
“The grand jury applied the law to the facts of this case,” Morgenthau said. He said the accidental shooting at the Latin Quarter nightclub on Nov. 29 was treated “like any similar case against any other defendant.”
Burress’ lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, said he was disappointed but not surprised by the indictment, which came after Burress testified before the grand jury and expressed remorse.
“When you have the mayor and the district attorney both publicly demanding a maximum prison sentence, it was perhaps too much to hope for the grand jury to conduct a sympathetic review of the unique facts of this sad case,” Brafman said in a statement.
Burress’ former teammate Antonio Pierce, who was with Burress in the club and drove him to the hospital, was not indicted. Immediately after the decision was announced, the NFL said Pierce would not face a league suspension.
The panel also did not indict the nightclub security guard who carried the gun to Pierce’s car or the hospital staff members who failed to notify police that Burress had been shot.
Morgenthau said hospital personnel were guilty of “a screw-up rather than a cover-up” and the security guard exhibited “bad judgment in the first degree” but did not commit a crime.
Pierce, who also testified before the grand jury last week, was practicing with the Giants in Albany when he learned of the panel’s decision. He was not going to speak with the media on Monday, team officials said.
Giants president John Mara said the team was pleased that the linebacker was not indicted.
“We said last week we felt strongly that Antonio’s actions did not warrant criminal charges, and obviously the grand jury, having heard all of the testimony, felt the same way,” he said.
Pierce’s lawyer, Michael Bachner, said, “By appearing before the grand jury for almost three hours and answering the grand jury’s very direct and very considered questions, it was clear to us that they understood that Mr. Pierce acted as any citizen under extraordinary circumstances would have acted.”
Giants coach Tom Coughlin was glad the matter was now behind the team.