San Francisco 49ers fullback Bruce Miller pleaded not guilty on Monday to a misdemeanor vandalism charge after a fight with his girlfriend at a bagel shop where he smashed her cell phone.
Miller is free on $10,000 bail and was also ordered by the judge to not contact his girlfriend. The Mercury News reported the couple have since broken off their engagement. Miller's attorney, Josh Bentley, did not speak to reporters after the arraignment or return a phone call from NBC Bay Area.
His next court date is scheduled for May 26.
The plea follows a charge filed Monday by Santa Clara County Supervising Deputy District Attorney Jim Demertzis, who is trying the case in a domestic violence court. Demertzis added that while initial reports surfaced that Miller may have pushed his girlfriend from his parked car, the "alleged assault was inconclusive," as the girlfriend later recounted that there was a physical fight.
The maximum penalty for misdemeanor vandalism if he is convicted is one year in jail, which is standard for this charge. What makes this a domestic violence case is that the fact that Miller and his girlfriend were in an "intimate relationship," explained Assistant District Attorney Cindy Hendrickson.
That means if Miller is convicted of the charge and placed on probation, he will be subject to domestic violence conditions, which include three years of mandatory formal probation, one year of a batterer's treatment program, and a protective order.
Miller had originally been arrested on one count of spousal battery.
"Even relatively minor domestic violence incidents can be the first steps on a path that ends in tragedy," Demertzis said in a statement. "That’s why we take all domestic violence cases seriously.”
San Francisco 49ers general manager Trent Baalke issued this statement: “The 49ers organization is aware of today’s developments involving Bruce Miller and will continue to monitor these legal proceedings closely.”
The charge stems from a fight on March 5 at Posh Bagel in the Rivermark Plaza between Miller and his girlfriend, according to a police report.
A few new details were revealed on Monday with the announcement of Miller's charge. Prosecutors said that Miller and his girlfriend were arguing in a parking garage at the Rivermark Hyatt House in Santa Clara. What they were fighting about has not been made public.
The girlfriend originally told police Miller had pushed her out of the car before he grabbed her cell phone from her and smashed it. In a later interview, prosecutors said she denied that there had been any physical contact during the fight.
Prosecutors added that his girlfriend refused medical attention and did not sustain any visible injuries or complain of any pain.
An independent witness, who was sitting at a nearby bagel shop, told police she saw Miller and his girlfriend leave the garage on foot as they argued. The witness saw Miller throw a cell phone
against an exterior business wall. The witness allowed the girlfriend to call police.
At the time of the arrest, the team issued a statement: "The San Francisco 49ers organization is aware of the matter involving Bruce Miller. We were disappointed to learn of these reports and will do our due diligence in collecting all relevant information."
Miller's arrest is the 11th arrest for the team since 2012.
Bay City News contributed to this report.