Former University of Utah football player Tavion Thomas will be released from Salt Lake County jail on Monday after being held without bail for nearly three weeks on felony domestic violence charges.
But the 23-year-old Thomas is now facing additional felony charges in Utah and, prosecutors said, more charges could be filed against him soon in Florida.
On Friday morning, 3rd District Judge James Blanch in 3rd District Court agreed to release Thomas from jail next week under certain conditions. Those include taking his required mental health medication, engaging in mental health treatment, wearing an ankle monitor and not leaving the state of Utah.
Thomas was charged earlier this month with three felonies for allegedly threatening a girlfriend with a knife, taking away her phone and car keys and telling her if she called authorities, she would be “dead before the police arrive.”
This week, Thomas was charged with four new third-degree felony counts. According to the charges, Thomas called his girlfriend 21 times between April 6-9, violating a court order to not contact her. Thomas is also facing a misdemeanor charge in Bluffdale. According to a police report obtained by The Salt Lake Tribune, Thomas’ then-girlfriend told police he harassed her in the wake of a breakup, repeatedly calling her, sending her direct messages on various apps and sending more than 350 text messages after he she told him to stop contacting her.
Blanch ruled that Thomas would be held in jail until late Monday afternoon, meanwhile, because prosecutors said that there could be serious charges filed against Thomas in another case in Florida. Waiting until Monday afternoon gives authorities in Florida the opportunity to charge Thomas with something before allowing him to be released in Salt Lake City.
There will be no protective order as part of Thomas’ release from jail after his girlfriend appeared in court Friday to argue against one. The woman told the judge that Thomas needs to be back on his medication, which she said he stopped taking once he declared for the NFL Draft and left the University of Utah in late November.
The woman also said in court that statements taken by police initially earlier this month were not entirely accurate and that Thomas was not a threat to her or anyone else.
“Tavion isn’t a danger to me,” she said. “Your Honor, Tavion, he’s my safe space. Couples get into arguments all the time and, of course, domestic violence is something you never want to have happen, but you can’t control that when someone is having an emotional argument and a breakdown.
“As I told the DA, Tavion is my biggest supporter. He has never been violent towards me, nor has he shown these tendencies. If you ask me, ask anybody in his life, he’s a big teddy bear.”
Court documents state that on April 4, Thomas’ girlfriend, whom Thomas lives with, said she was going to leave their home after he pulled a knife on her. Thomas took her car keys and told her she was “not going anywhere,” according to the charges.
When Thomas’ girlfriend asked for her phone back to call the police, Thomas replied, “You’ll be dead before the police arrive. I will take your car and drive it all the way to Dayton,” according to court documents.
Thomas’ girlfriend told authorities she suggested they go to sleep and Thomas agreed. “She said she did not sleep at all because she was afraid of Thomas as he had the knife laying next to him in the bed,” court documents state.
The next morning, Thomas’ girlfriend was getting ready to leave the home to head to the airport, court documents state, but Thomas once again took her car keys and her phone while holding the knife. Thomas said he would only give the phone back if he drove her to the airport and she shared her location with him on her phone, according to the statement.
A roommate told police they heard Thomas’ girlfriend ask for her phone back that morning, according to the statement. The witness asked Thomas to give back the phone but he refused, documents state. The witness offered to drive Thomas’ girlfriend to the airport, according to the statement.
Prosecutors originally requested that Thomas be held without bail because Thomas “would constitute a substantial danger to the alleged victim of domestic violence if released on bail.” Prosecutors wrote they believed Thomas would be a flight risk to leave Utah if he were released on bail.