The father of Green Bay Packers wide receiver Donald Driver was beaten by Houston, Texas, police officers as they arrested him for outstanding traffic warrants, Driver's family members claimed Wednesday.
As they beat him and forced him to swallow something, the officers told Marvin Driver Jr. he was "going to see Jesus," according to relatives and community activist Quanell Evans, who identified himself as Quanell X.
"Mr. Marvin Driver Jr. is now at Hermann Hospital in ICU where he can't even speak," relatives said in a statement. "Doctors say there is some bleeding on his brain from blunt force trauma."
Police said Driver was arrested for outstanding traffic warrants and was found to be "unresponsive" upon his arrival at jail. Paramedics transported him to the hospital, they said. The Houston Police Department said in a written statement it takes the assault allegations "very seriously, and will begin a thorough investigation into the matter."
The two officers involved remain on duty pending further investigation, police said. However, relatives and Evans called for the officers involved to be suspended or placed on administrative leave until the investigation is complete.
The incident began late Sunday when Driver was dropping his brother, Winston Driver, off after the two had moved furniture, family members said.
Officers stopped Marvin Driver Jr. in front of his mother's home, relatives said. An argument took place between police and Driver's family, as well as between Driver and officers over the language police were using, according to the written statement issued by family members.
Police told relatives Driver was being taken to jail for the outstanding warrants, relatives said. "Later, the family found out he never made it to the jail," the statement said.
Relatives at first alleged Driver was picked up several blocks away by paramedics and that he was lying bloody and unconscious in the street. However, Evans told reporters Wednesday afternoon he had spoken to paramedics, and they had told him they had picked Driver up at the jail, and that he was injured, semiconscious and unresponsive when they arrived.
Houston Fire Department spokesman Omero Longoria told CNN Driver was picked up at a police substation and taken to the hospital. He said he did not know when Driver arrived at the jail or what his condition was when paramedics arrived.
Evans showed reporters paper towels upon which he said Driver had written his account. On them, he said Driver wrote that the police took him behind a Valero gas station and beat him. The officers kneed Driver and elbowed him in the throat, Evans said. They also made him swallow something, he said, telling him he was "going to see Jesus" and made disparaging remarks about his family, including "one particular family member."
One officer parked his cruiser behind the station and watched the beating, the activist alleged. Evans showed reporters photographs he said depicted Driver lying a hospital bed with a tube in his mouth.
One of the officers named in the arrest report is Hispanic and has a history of harassing African-Americans, Evans said. Driver also wrote on the paper towels that he knows the officer who beat him, Evans said. Winston Driver said at the news conference that after his brother dropped him off, he saw flashing lights from the house and went back outside.
"The officer I spoke with, he was real rude," he said. "The guy was out of control, basically." He said he searched for his brother for two days, only to be told he wasn't in the system. "I got totally upset about it," he said. Nothing in the police report indicates Driver was being combative or resisting arrest, Evans said.
"It is a shame how this man was treated. This is a man that was being arrested supposedly for only having traffic warrants, and traffic warrants turned into a severe beating of this magnitude."
He said he had spoken to Donald Driver, but would not divulge details of the conversation, saying only that "he is absolutely concerned about the condition of his father."
Another of Driver's sons, Michael, told reporters, "if we can't trust these people, who can we trust? ... I think that my father was targeted for being black."