By DOUG FEINBERG
NEW YORK (AP) — Los Angeles Sparks guard Riquna Williams was suspended without pay by the WNBA on Tuesday for 10 games — nearly a third of the season — for a domestic violence incident.
Williams was arrested on April 29 and charged with two felony counts, one involving the assault of an individual with whom she was in a relationship and the other involving a threat to another person with a firearm. Her criminal case is ongoing.
The WNBA said it conducted its own investigation, including interviews with Williams and several witnesses, and consulted with a panel of experts in the field of domestic violence. Among other factors, the league said it took into account the nature and seriousness of the allegations, including the involvement of a gun. The WNBA also will require Williams to participate in counseling.
“As an organization, we abhor violence of any kind and specifically take domestic violence allegations very seriously,” the Sparks said in a statement. “We will provide whatever resources we are allowed to help Riquna learn and grow from this unfortunate situation.”
The union said it would file a grievance on Williams’ behalf.
“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,” said Terri Jackson, executive director of the union.
“Riquna has not had a fair opportunity to fully defend herself. We are immediately filing a grievance and will seek the arbitrator’s review.”
The suspension, which surpassed the seven games given to Brittney Griner and Glory Johnson in 2015 for their domestic violence arrests, will begin with Thursday’s game against the Dallas Wings.
It’s not the longest in league history: The WNBA dismissed Rhonda Mapp, who also played for Los Angeles, in 2003 for violating its drug policy. Mapp never returned after being suspended by the league for two years.
According to an arrest report, Williams forced her way inside a Florida home and repeatedly struck Alkeria Davis in the head and pulled her hair on Dec. 6. Two men told Palm Beach County sheriff’s deputies they spent 10 minutes trying to break up the fight. When they finally separated the women, the 28-year-old Williams grabbed a gun from her car, placed it on the trunk and pointed it at one man, saying “you’ll get all 18” before speeding off, authorities said.
Davis said she and Williams had been together on and off for five years and had broken up a month earlier. She told authorities she thought Williams was jealous but had never been violent in the past.
Williams was booked on burglary and aggravated assault charges.
The Sparks signed her on May 15. The seventh-year player has started six games this season and is averaging 11.5 points. She had 23 points in Los Angeles’ last game, an overtime win over Atlanta on Sunday.
Assuming she doesn’t appeal, Williams would return for the Sparks’ final eight games, starting against the Indiana Fever on Aug. 22.
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