On July 16, a Dallas DJ was punched in the face at Clutch, a local bar, and early reports said that Ezekiel Elliott was a part of the investigation. A TMZ report later suggested that at least two people saw the Cowboys running back throw the punch. But whoever it was that talked to TMZ, they weren’t talking on the record to police. Instead, police kept finding people who didn’t want to talk or said they didn’t see who threw the punch, according to public records released to Deadspin. Even the victim didn’t want to talk beyond an initial statement given that night. A 911 caller said he didn’t see who did it. Videos mostly show people just standing around.
Aside from a mysterious figure at the scene who, before disappearing, told a police officer that Elliott had hit someone, the closest Dallas police got was a man who, while having his blood drawn after a traffic stop for possibly driving while intoxicated, said he was at the bar where Elliott “laid out some dude.” But when police came back to him for an interview about it, he said he didn’t actually see what happened. They closed the case a few days later, citing the lack of cooperation from the victim.
Here’s how the investigation unfolded, according to police reports, 911 audio, and video released to Deadspin.
About 9:37 p.m., Kent Washington called 911. He told the dispatcher that while he didn’t see what happened, his friend had just been hit. When paramedics arrived, they found Nkemakolam “Daryl” Ibeneme in white and “bleeding from an injury to his nose,” according to the incident report. This is the full narrative.
Other officers were at the scene because they were working off-duty at the bar. Two wrote reports about what they saw, noting that when they asked what happened, nobody said anything.
As for Ibeneme, that night he told police that he had been intoxicated and didn’t see who hit him, according to two police reports and their search-warrant request. After that, the rest of the documentation goes into recording all the ways police tried—and failed—to reach Ibeneme. They went to his address but were told he had moved, according to emails. They got another address for him and possible contact information for his mother (though the reports do not say whether they ever got in touch with her). An email from Det. Kyle Kreun says that officers called him and left voicemails. They tried reaching him on Instagram, but his account was private. They tried reaching him on Facebook.
They tweeted at him.
This didn’t work either.
The other main lead police had was a matter of serendipity. Hours after Ibeneme was hit, a Dallas man was stopped and arrested on suspicion of driving while intoxicated. While he had blood drawn, he talked about how he’d been at a club where he saw Elliott and “he started arguing with this dude about a female” and then “laid some dude out.” He told the man taking his blood, “You might see it on TMZ tomorrow.” You can watch this below.
Note that he doesn’t explicitly say that he saw Elliott hitting anyone, and that he mentions that Elliott goes around with a menacing bodyguard who will slap the phone out of a person’s hand if they try to take a picture. When police followed up with him a day later, he said he’d seen Elliott at Clutch but “did not actually see the disturbance,” according to the police report.
Police also got recordings of video from inside and around the bar; there was nothing much to see, as the punch apparently happened, per one police report, “just off frame.” The one video file labeled “fight” is about 20 minutes of people milling around, as in the clip below:
The only other substantial part of the records involves Elliott’s receipts for that night:
On July 19, the case was “suspended pending contact from the complainant.”
Perhaps Ibeneme will one day reach out to police; perhaps he won’t. Even if he does, his initial statement was that he didn’t see who hit him, so if he changes his story, he’ll have to explain the difference. Maybe Elliott threw the punch; maybe his bodyguard did; maybe someone else did. Whoever it was, anyone who saw wasn’t talking to police on the record, and appears to be in no rush to do so. In the absence of that, a lack of finality will have to do.