Roughriders Dwight Anderson and Taj Smith facing assault charges
Roughriders Dwight Anderson and Taj Smith have both been charged with aggravated assault.
It all dates back to a serious fight outside the Pure nightclub on Dewdney Avenue three weeks ago. At 2:50 a.m. on Sunday, Aug. 18 Regina police responded to a report about a fight outside the bar. When they arrived they found a 20-year-old man with serious injuries who was taken to hospital.
After interviewing witnesses for the past three weeks police arrested Roughriders receiver Taj Smith and defensive back Dwight Anderson at 6 p.m. on Wednesday Sept. 11.
Both Anderson and Smith made a brief appearance at the Regina Provincial Court Thursday morning. They were released with conditions and their next appearance date was set for Oct. 8.
Roughrider Dwight Anderson walks out of Provincial Court after being released on assault charges. Adriana Christianson/CJME
The maximum penalty under the Criminal Code for aggravated assault is up to 14 years in prison.
While Anderson has earned a reputation around the CFL for taking bad penalties, engaging in verbal tirads against officials and other players, and making inappropriate gestures he hasn't been in trouble off the field during his career. Smith, however, has a long history of violence in his past; a profile by the New York Times when he was in the NFL outlined how two of his brothers died under violent circumstances and Smith's own proclivity towards fighting while he was growing up.
Victim of assault also facing legal problems
News Talk Radio also confirmed Thursday morning that the person alleged to have been assaulted in the fight with the Roughriders has had his own problems with the law recently.
Jonathon Mukendi, 20, is facing charges after a drug bust in July. Mukendi was charged with possession of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking, one of eight people charged in a major bust. Attempts to contact Mukendi have so far been unsuccessful.
Riders haven't decided players' fate yet
The Saskatchewan Roughriders released a brief statement shortly after police made the news public. It reads:
"The Saskatchewan Roughrider Football Club has been informed of an incident involving two of our players that has led to subsequent charges. As this matter is currently under investigation by Regina City Police, the organization will have no further comment until it’s resolved."
Team General Manager Brendan Taman also spoke to reporters at Mosaic Stadium. He said the Riders haven't determined what happens next for Smith and Anderson but they have not been suspended.
"We're going through the process of trying to gather what went on. We have a lot of options to do but right now we've just got to get to the facts and we'll see where it goes."
Taman admitted there was speculation and rumour flying around but he insisted the team wasn't aware of exactly what happened.
"You know, I'm not going to lie to you and say we didn't hear rumours but to the extent of what was going on we didn't really know."
He said the players now have a self-imposed ban that dictates players are not to visit bars on Dewdney Avenue.
A big question is how the team's Code of Conduct, a document that governs how team members are meant to conduct themselves in public, will be applied to this situation. Taman said the team will have to wait and see what happens in court before they assess what impact the Code should have.
He admitted that it's impossible to know how the team could be impacted, conceding that there's always a chance this sort of drama could derail what has been a promising season.
"It could. Or it could make them even closer. We have a good group of guys and a good group of coaches so we'll get through it just fine."
He encouraged fans to do what the team is doing: wait and see what the outcome of the investigation will be.