Roger Goodell Explains Why The NFL Couldn't Get The Ray Rice Elevator Tape

In a memo to NFL owners, commissioner Roger Goodell reiterated his claim that the league didn’t see the video of Ray Rice hitting his fiancee until TMZ published it on Monday.

The memo doesn’t contain any new information, but Goodell does go into a little more detail for why the league couldn’t get the video.

He says that the law enforcement agencies the league asked weren’t permitted to give the NFL the video, and that it would have been illegal for the casino to give evidence in an active investigation to a third-party entity like the NFL. At the same time, he admits that the league never asked the casino for the video.

Ultimately TMZ got the tape and the NFL didn’t, so how hard the league tried to view the video remains an open question.

Here’s the full explanation Goodell (via Adam Schefter):

“Second, on multiple occasions, we asked the proper law enforcement authorities to share with us all relevant information, including any video of the incident. Those requests were made to different law enforcement entities, including the New Jersey State Police, the Atlantic City Police Department, the Atlantic County Police Department and the Atlantic County Solicitor’s Office. The requests were first made in February following the incident, and were again made following Mr. Rice’s entry into the pre-trial diversion program. None of the law enforcement entities we approached was permitted to provide any video or other investigatory material to us. As is customary in disciplinary cases, the suspension imposed on Mr. Rice in July was based on the information available to us at that time.

“Our understanding of New Jersey law is that casino security is regulated by the Division of Gaming Enforcement in the State Attorney General’s office. Once a criminal investigation begins, law enforcement authorities do not share investigatory material (such as the videos here) with private parties such as the NFL. In addition, the state’s Open Public Records Act excludes material that is generated in the context of an active law enforcement proceeding. The law enforcement agencies did nothing wrong here; they simply followed their customary procedures. As the New Jersey Attorney General’s office said yesterday, “It would have been illegal for law enforcement to provide [the] Rice video to [the] NFL.”

“We did not ask the Atlantic City casino directly for the video. Again, our understanding of New Jersey law is that the casino is prohibited from turning over material to a third party during a law enforcement proceeding, and that doing so would have subjected individuals to prosecution for interference with a criminal investigation. Moreover, our longstanding policy in matters like this — where there is a criminal investigation being directed by law enforcement and prosecutors — is to cooperate with law enforcement and take no action to interfere with the criminal justice system. In addition, in the context of an ongoing criminal investigation, information obtained outside of law enforcement that has not been tested by prosecutors or by the court system is not necessarily a reliable basis for imposing league discipline.

“Finally, it is our understanding that the criminal proceedings involving Mr. Rice are considered an open matter, and that so long as he is in the pretrial diversion program, no information will be made available to third parties or the public.”

The New Jersey attorney general’s office told ABC News on Tuesday that it would have been illegal for law enforcement to give the tape to the NFL.

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