2 Saskatchewan Roughriders charged with assault

Two Saskatchewan Roughriders have been charged with aggravated assault following an incident at a Regina nightclub that left a 20-year-old man injured.

Taj Smith, Dwight Anderson released from custody until next court date

Saskatchewan Roughriders' general manager Brendan Taman met with reporters after players Dwight Anderson and Taj Smith were charged. 3:30
Dwight Anderson, left, and Taj Smith have been charged with aggravated assault in connection with an altercation at a nightclub on Aug. 18. (Saskatchewan Roughriders website)

Two Saskatchewan Roughriders have been charged with aggravated assault following an incident at a Regina nightclub that left a 20-year-old man injured.

Dwight Anderson, 32, and Taj Smith, 29, made their first appearances in Regina provincial court Thursday morning.

The two Canadian Football League players are charged in connection to the alleged beating of a man outside a nightclub on the 2000 block of Dewdney Avenue in the city's warehouse district on Aug. 18.  

Regina police said officers were sent to the area at around 2:40 a.m. CST after getting a report that there was a group of people involved in or gathered around a fight.

When police arrived they found the 20-year-old man with injuries consistent with being in a physical altercation. He was taken to hospital with serious injuries.

Taj Smith didn't talk to reporters after leaving court Thursday. (Jordan Jackle/CBC)

Following an investigation, police arrested Anderson and Smith on Wednesday at around 6 p.m.

Anderson, a defensive back, signed with the Riders in February. Smith, also known as Tajiddin Muquadir Smith-Wilson, is a receiver who is in his second year with the team.

Following their brief court appearance, Anderson and Smith were told they would be released until their next court date in October. 

Anderson and Smith, who spent the night behind bars, left the courthouse later in the morning.

They are required to follow a number of conditions, including keeping the peace, abstaining from alcohol and drugs and staying away from clubs and bars.

Dwight Anderson came out the back of the courthouse after appearing on an aggravated assault charge. (Jordan Jackle/CBC)

Paul Harasen, the lawyer for the two men, said there's no restriction preventing them from travelling with the team.

The Roughriders next play at home Saturday against Toronto.

Team general manager Brendan Taman later told reporters that Smith and Anderson have not been suspended from the club.

"We're still going through the process of trying to gather what went on and we have a lot of options [on what] to do, but right now we've just got to get to the facts and we'll see where it goes," Taman said Thursday at Mosaic Stadium.

In the past, other members of the Roughriders organization have been through the courts, with a variety of outcomes:
  • 2013: Running back Kory Sheets had domestic violence charges laid against him in January after an incident near Tampa, Fla. The state didn't prosecute the case after Sheets successfully completed a domestic violence program.
  • 2009:  Former general manager Eric Tillman was charged with sexual assault in January 2009 in an incident involving a 16-year-old girl who was babysitting his two children in Regina. Tillman pleaded guilty in January 2010 and blamed his actions on taking too much medication for a bad back. He was granted an absolute discharge and, as a result, received no criminal record. Tillman resigned as GM of the Riders on Jan. 8, 2010.
  • 2007:  In February 2007, Trevis Smith, a former linebacker with the Roughriders, was charged with aggravated sexual assault after two women complained he exposed them to HIV without telling them he had the virus. Smith was found guilty and received a five-year jail sentence.
  • 2006:  Running back Kenton Keith was charged with assault following an incident at a Regina nightclub. That charge was eventually stayed by prosecutors. Keith left for the NFL.

The question of whether they'll play Saturday will be answered Friday when the game roster is announced, he said.

Taman said team officials learned of the charges around 5 p.m. Wednesday, when police contacted them.

Team morale fine, coach says

Roughriders head coach Cory Chamblin said after practice Thursday that a decision on whether Anderson and Smith will play this weekend has not yet been made.

"A lot of things are up in the air," Chamblin told reporters. "I don't have enough information at this point, like I said, you guys probably have more information than I do, and we'll go forward from there as we still move forward to set a roster."

At 8-2, the Riders are tied with the Calgary Stampeders for the top of the CFL's overall standings.

Chamblin said the charges won't derail team spirit or what is potentially a championship season.

"I think our team morale will be pretty good," he said. "Our guys are pretty focused and they know that we have a football game to play and we know what's at hand."

Alleged victim also before the courts

On the same morning the two football players made their first court appearance, their alleged victim was in another courtroom in the same building, making his own appearance on charges in an unrelated matter.

According to court files and information from police, the alleged victim was charged July 18 with possession and trafficking of cocaine. That case, in which eight people are charged, is still before the courts.

Smith and Anderson are scheduled to be back in court Oct. 8.

With files from The Canadian Press and CBC's Dean Gutheil, Jordan Jackle and Dani Mario