A mostly female jury this week today exonerated former Los Angeles Laker guard Gary Payton of allegations that he twice battered a woman he was dating during a trip to Seattle in 2015, a verdict his lawyer hailed as a rejection of an attempted “money grab.”
A Los Angeles Superior Court panel deliberated for about two hours before finding in favor of the NBA Hall of Famer after trial of a civil lawsuit brought by Trishtan Williams.
Payton, 48, was present for the concluding final arguments Tuesday morning, but was back in Oakland visiting his ill mother when the verdict was reached, said his lawyer, John Burris.
“I’m extremely pleased,” Burris said of the verdict. “My client was always adamant he did not do these things and I believed him. It shows a high-profile athlete can go to court and properly defend himself.”
Civil rights attorney Gloria Allred, whose firm represented Williams, declined to comment on the jury’s decision.
A 27-year-old South Los Angeles man, who was one of four males on the jury, said that although he believed Williams’ assault claim was reasonable, the panel found insufficient evidence to support the plaintiff’s other allegations of battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress beyond what she told them. He also said her attorney’s $2 million damages recommendation was excessive.
The juror, who asked that his name not be used, also said that Payton’s morals and his celebrity status had no bearing on the jury’s verdict.
In his final argument, Burris told jurors that Williams was out for a “money grab” at the expense of a millionaire former professional athlete. He said that unlike the case of former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice’s assault on his then-girlfriend, no video existed to support Williams’ claims. He also said there was a lack of demonstrable bruising as well as any evidence that the plaintiff did everything she could to get away from someone who allegedly inflicted a severe beating upon her.