Niners fans received unwanted news about linebacker Aldon Smith on Wednesday after it was reported he was named in a gunfight lawsuit. With less than three days before the start of the 2013 season, this is a distraction the San Francisco 49ers do not need.
The gunfight lawsuit centers around an altercation at a house party Smith was hosting on June 29, 2012, in which the linebacker was stabbed and two other people were shot. Also named in the lawsuit is former Niners tight end Delanie Walker, who is now with the Tennessee Titans.
The lawsuit was filed by Ronndale Esporlas who was attending the party. As the party was getting control, the suit claims, Smith, Walker and others “appeared on the balcony of the house, brandished handguns, and began shooting in the air.” Walker than went to the driveway of the house and he “began firing a handgun in the air and toward others attending the party.” A group of people standing in the street returned fire and that is when Esporlas was allegedly “caught in the crossfire” and shot twice. He suffered “serious, catastrophic and permanent injuries.”
Smith said he knew the lawsuit was coming and he was not caught off guard by the charges being filed. Speaking about the lawsuit, Smith said on Wednesday:
Things happen. You’ve just got to focus on the things that you do. I’m focused on playing against Green Bay, and we’ll see how it goes.
While it’s great that Smith is focused on the upcoming game, this could serve as distraction as the season goes on. Losing Smith for any reason, including a suspension for an off the field incident, would be a big blow to the Niners defense. In just two seasons, he has recorded 33.5 sacks and he is instrumental to the defense in applying pressure on the quarterback.
The Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office, where the lawsuit was filed, is said to be leaning towards prosecuting Smith on charges of possessing illegal assault rifles. If convicted on the charges, Smith’s punishment could range from probation to three years in jail.
The 49ers issued a statement saying they have been “aware of this matter concerning Aldon Smith for some time. We will continue to monitor the situation closely, but will have no further comment at this time, as this is an ongoing legal matter.”