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Giants' Burress posts $100K bail; Pierce under investigation

  • By Associated Press
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NEW YORK -- Taken to court in handcuffs, Plaxico Burress posted $100,000 bail on weapons possession charges Monday as a frenzy grew around the case of the Giants star receiver who accidentally shot himself in a nightclub.

Authorities said teammate Antonio Pierce was being investigated over his role in the shooting, while the Super Bowl-champion Giants weren't sure what action they would take against Burress. The NFL said it was monitoring developments. Mayor Michael Bloomberg also weighed in, saying it would be an outrage "if we didn't prosecute to the fullest extent of the law."

Seth Wenig / Associated Press
Plaxico Burress is escorted from a New York City police station in handcuffs on Monday.

Burress shot himself in the right thigh in the VIP section of the Latin Quarter nightclub in Manhattan about 1 a.m. Saturday, police said. He did not have a permit to carry a handgun in New York.

A witness reported hearing a popping sound before Burress' legs began to shake, according to a criminal complaint. It said the person saw a bloody pistol fall out of his pant leg and land on the floor before Burress said, "Take me to a hospital."

It's believed Pierce took Burress to the car and then left with him, according to police. Burress was treated at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center and released later Saturday.

Burress was charged with two counts of second-degree criminal possession of a weapon, which could result in a sentence of at least 3 1/2 years in prison. He was not required to enter a plea Monday and is due back in court on March 31. Burress did not say anything in court.

"He is standing tall. He is a mature adult," said Benjamin Brafman, his defense lawyer. "I think any professional athlete in this situation would be concerned."

He said Burress is feeling OK. "If they let him play, he will be able to play. ... I think he will be a superstar for the rest of his career."

Drew Rosenhaus, Burress' agent, remained optimistic that things will be worked out with the Giants. He met with the team's management on Sunday, adding the team did not discuss whether Burress violated his contract.

"They are concerned about his health, his well being," Rosenhaus said in an interview with ESPN on Monday Night Football.

Rosenhaus, who did not return repeated telephone calls by The Associated Press, would not discuss why Burress had a gun on Friday night. He added that Burress planned to be at Giants Stadium on Tuesday for treatment.

Originally, police had said that running back Derrick Ward was with Burress and Pierce at the club, relying on information given to them from security guards at the bar. But police said later that it was unclear if Ward was at the club, and the running back denied that he was.

A more detailed timeline of the evening also emerged Monday. Police said Pierce and Burress arrived at the club with three other people around 11:30 p.m. Friday.

Burress had been allowed to bypass security, even though they knew he was armed, according to a law enforcement official who spoke on condition of anonymity. The club is said to be fully cooperating in the investigation.

Around 12:05 a.m., as Burress was being escorted to a VIP area with a drink in one hand, he somehow ended up fumbling his gun and it discharged, hitting his thigh. Pierce was with him when that occurred, police said.

Playing without Plax
The Giants improved to 11-1 Sunday, continuing what they have been doing all season -- winning without Plaxico Burress, writes Steve Wyche. More ...

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It's unclear what occurred during the two hours that followed.

Burress showed up at the hospital around 2:20 a.m. and was discharged at 1 p.m. Saturday.

The gun was eventually recovered at Burress' house in New Jersey, authorities said.

Brafman refused to respond to media reports about an alleged coverup, other than to say: "I think a lot of what's been in the press is not accurate."

Burress arrived at a police station early Monday in a black Cadillac Escalade wearing jeans and a black coat. Burress, who was not visibly limping, did not speak to the media.

The case has also drawn the wrath of Bloomberg, who has waged a long fight against illegal guns during his time in office. He called for a full prosecution of state law that requires mandatory prison for carrying a loaded handgun.

"I don't think anybody should be exempt from that, and I think it would be an outrage if we didn't prosecute to the fullest extent of the law, particularly people who live in the public domain, make their living because of their visibility -- they're the role models for our kids," Bloomberg said.

He also lashed out at the hospital, based on the allegation that officials may not have properly reported the shooting.

"It's just an outrage that the hospital didn't do what they were legally required to do. It's a misdemeanor, it's a chargeable offense, and I think the district attorney should certainly go after the management of this hospital. The lame excuse that they didn't know -- this is a world-class hospital," he said.

Pierce deflected several questions after Sunday's game against the Washington Redskins. He wouldn't say whether he has a lawyer and when asked if he is concerned about his own situation, Pierce replied: "No. I'm fine where I'm at.

"I am not answering any questions about the incident that happened Friday night. If you have anything to say about the Washington Redskins, this game and moving forward, I'll answer it. Anything else, I'm not answering."

Giants coach Tom Coughlin said he spoke to his players about Burress' situation but wouldn't get into specifics.

"We all are upset about what happened with Plaxico, and hopefully he's going to be fine and so on and so forth. That's our first concern," Coughlin said.

Reese and Giants president and CEO John Mara said Sunday they hadn't spoken to Burress, who hurt his hamstring two weeks ago. "I reached out to him," Reese said. "I did not get a return phone call."

Mara repeatedly said the Giants would cooperate with the police and the NFL in their investigations.

"This is a law-enforcement matter and we are continuing to cooperate fully with the police," NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said in a statement. "In addition, it will be reviewed under our league policies."

Giants running back Brandon Jacobs said he spoke to Burress on the phone after Sunday's game.

"I called him and made a few jokes about the situation and his laugh is what I wanted to hear," Jacobs said, according to Newsday. "If he didn't laugh I knew he was going to be down, which he shouldn't be down. It's a mistake that happened, something that shouldn't have happened and that's that."

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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