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WNBA Suspends Riquna Williams For 10 Games Over Alleged Domestic Violence

Los Angeles Sparks guard Riquna Williams (right) dribbles in a playoff game against the Washington Mystics last year.
Nick Wass
Los Angeles Sparks guard Riquna Williams (right) dribbles in a playoff game against the Washington Mystics last year.

Updated at 4:15 p.m. ET

The WNBA has suspended Los Angeles Sparks guard Riquna Williams for 10 games without pay over a domestic violence incident in which she allegedly attacked a former girlfriend.

Williams was arrested in April and charged with two felony counts after authorities in Florida say she punched the woman in the head and then threatened another person with a gun.

The WNBA said it launched its own investigation into the matter, including interviews with several witnesses and a consultation with domestic violence experts, before rendering the 10-game suspension, which is about a third of a regular season.

"Among other factors, the WNBA took into account the nature and seriousness of the conduct at issue, including the involvement of a firearm," the league said in a statement.

Despite the charges, the Sparks re-signed Williams and she has been playing this season. Her suspension starts Thursday, when the Sparks take on the Dallas Wings.

The Women's National Basketball Players Association, the union representing WNBA players, plans to file a grievance.

"We are disappointed with the league's actions. There is an ongoing criminal proceeding and in fairness to the player, the league could have and should have awaited its completion before taking any action," Terri Jackson, the union's executive director, told NPR in a statement. "Riquana has not had a fair opportunity to fully defend herself."

According to an arrest report, Williams showed up at a residence in Pahokee, Fla. where Alkeria Davis was on Dec. 6, 2018. Police say Williams tried to get in by hitting the outside door with a skateboard.

Davis came to the door and there was a struggle as Williams tried to force her way into the residence, according to the report. It says Williams managed to get inside and then punched Davis multiple times in the head and pulled her hair.

Two men spent 10 minutes attempting to break up the fight before they were able to separate the two women and get Williams outside.

At that point, according to the report, Williams walked to a blue Camaro, grabbed a gun and pointed it at one of the men, saying "You'll get all 18" before speeding away.

Davis told deputies with the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office that she and Williams had been dating on and off for five years, but had broken up a month before the incident. She told authorities she believes Williams was jealous that Davis was not with her, according to court records.

The altercation, Davis told police, left her with a lump on the side of her head.

Williams was arrested on April 29 and charged with burglary, with assault or battery, and with aggravated assault with a deadly firearm, court records show. She pleaded not guilty and was released on a $20,000 bond. The judge ordered that she not possess any weapons and have no contact with the victims. Her next court date is Aug. 16.

Lawyer Daniel Riccardo Paige Sr., who is representing Williams, did not return a request for comment.

The WNBA said in addition to the 10-game suspension, the league will require Williams receive to counseling.

The Sparks issued a statement to NPR saying the team has fully cooperated with the league's investigation.

"As an organization, we abhor violence of any kind and specifically take domestic violence allegations very seriously," according to the Sparks' statement. "We will provide whatever resources we are allowed to help Riquna learn and grow from this unfortunate situation."

Williams' suspension comes as the WNBA investigates another recent domestic violence case, involving Seattle Storm player Natasha Howard, who has been accused by her wife of domestic abuse.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Bobby Allyn is a business reporter at NPR based in San Francisco. He covers technology and how Silicon Valley's largest companies are transforming how we live and reshaping society.