Barefoot and frightened, Nicole Holder walked as fast as she could through the darkness, and the moment she saw the cops she ran. She headed west on Fifth Street toward North Church, away from the Charlotte., N.C., apartment of Greg Hardy, a star defensive end then with the NFL’s Carolina Panthers. Minutes earlier he had, she said, thrown her against a tile bathtub wall, tossed her on a futon covered in assault rifles, and choked her until she told him to “kill me so I don’t have to.”
Officer Jeffrey Kendrick ran after her, ordering her to stop. Holder turned and walked toward him, and Kendrick asked her why she was crying.
“It doesn’t matter,” she told him. “Nothing is going to happen to him anyways.”
A year and a half after Hardy was arrested and charged with attacking Holder, it’s clear that she was mostly right. Last year, Hardy was convicted of assault in a bench trial, but the charges were dismissed on appeal and, it was reported yesterday, expunged. He missed more than a season of football, but went on to sign with the Dallas Cowboys, for whom he’s become a bigger star than ever despite (or perhaps because of) a series of incidents ranging from making sexist comments in a press conference to going after a coach on the sidelines. Jerry Jones, the Cowboys’ billionaire owner, calls him a “real leader” who has the respect of all his teammates and inspires America’s Team.
Unlike Ray Rice, the former Baltimore Ravens star who was filmed knocking his future wife unconscious in an elevator, Hardy hasn’t become a pariah. That’s partly because he’s more valuable on the field, but also because of the perception that nobody knows what really happened that night. Hardy won’t talk about it; Holder has gone quiet ever since, prosecutors say, she received a settlement, which contributed to the criminal case against him falling apart. And, crucially, no photos or videos ever came out. Police and prosecutorial records that detail what happened that night have largely been kept from the public—though not from the NFL.
Deadspin has obtained hundreds of pages of those records, some previously reported—police reports, interview transcripts, and more. Photos, dozens of them, show bruises over much of Holder’s body, including her back, her arms, her legs, her chin, her neck, and even her foot.