Rodney Austin lost his job with the Lions Tuesday after being arrested last week on domestic violence charges, but he will be fighting the case head on.
According to a statement from Austin's agent, Mark Magazu, and attorney Mark Jetton, Austin denies the charges pressed by Yvonne Gill-Sadler, a woman with whom he has a 9-month-old daughter.
"Believing these allegations to be retaliatory in nature due to an ongoing issue over child custody and disagreements over the future of their relationship, Rodney has instructed (the law firm) Jetton & Meredith to pursue civil charges against Miss Gill-Sadler for malicious prosecution, defamation of character and slander," the statement read.
According to online records from the Mecklenburg County Sheriff's Office, Austin was arrested last Friday on four misdemeanor charges: assault on a female, assault on a child under 12, larceny and interfering with emergency communication.
Austin was released on bond of $2,250 hours after his arrest, according to a spokesman for the sheriff's office. Austin has a preliminary hearing scheduled for June 5 at the Mecklenburg County Courthouse, according to the clerk's office.
A Lions spokesman declined comment on the situation.
According to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, officers responded to a call for service at Gill-Sadler's home on April 5 around 2:20 a.m. She told police that Austin pushed her to the floor while holding their daughter and that Austin prevented her from calling 911 by damaging and taking her phone.
When police arrived, there were no signs of injury to the woman or the child. Last Thursday, Gill-Sadler went to the Mecklenburg County Magistrate's Office to obtain an arrest warrant for Austin.
A day later, Austin turned himself in to the Mecklenburg County Sheriff's Office, where he was charged with the four misdemeanors and then released after posting bond.
In an email, Magazu said this incident "is very overblown," and in a statement Magazu and Jetton released Tuesday afternoon, they made clear that domestic violence should not be taken lightly.
"Domestic violence in America is a serious issue, and we owe it to every woman or man who suffers at the hands of another to make every legal and cultural change we can so that justice can be done," the statement read. "This must include ensuring that no one can wield false allegations as a weapon designed to damage another person."
Lions coach Jim Caldwell said last year he has zero tolerance for domestic violence, and the team cut him after he arrived in Allen Park for the start of the offseason program Monday.
Austin split time between the team's practice squad and active roster the last three years after going undrafted out of Elon in 2012. Now, the Lions' already thin offensive line lost one of its young pieces, and it's clear the team will target a couple linemen in the draft.
The Lions don't have any players on the roster with NFL experience at left guard. Larry Warford is the right guard, Travis Swanson will likely play center, and without Austin, the only remaining interior players are Taylor Boggs, Braxston Cave and Darren Keyton. Out of those three, Boggs is the only one who's played in an NFL game, with five appearances with Chicago the last two years.
Even though they lost Dominic Raiola and Rob Sims this offseason, the Lions didn't add any marquee free agents to replace them. In addition to a left guard to replace Sims, the Lions are hoping to find a tackle in the draft who can play left tackle.