Adrian Peterson’s son dies from brutal beating

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The youngest son of Minnesota Vikings superstar running back Adrian Peterson died on Friday in a Sioux Falls, S.D., hospital, after being brutally beating by the man dating the boy’s mother, police confirmed. He was 2 years old.

Peterson met with the media Friday, hours before the boy passed away, and said at the time he still planned to play in Sunday’s game against Carolina.

“I really appreciate all the support that I’ve been receiving from fans, the Vikings organization,” said Peterson, who was excused to miss Thursday’s Vikings practice before returning Friday. “This is a private matter and I would ask you all to please just respect my privacy and not ask at all about the situation at hand.”

The perpetrator of this unthinkable act is Joseph Robert Patterson, 27. He was booked and charged with aggravated assault and aggravated assault on an infant. Sioux Falls police said additional charges are being considered and, now with the death of the little boy, the charges will doubtlessly be upgraded to murder.

Patterson has a prior domestic abuse record with a different woman and child, having pleaded guilty to simple assault in an incident last year involving an adult female and juvenile male, USA Today reported.

Sioux Falls police said Patterson recently started a relationship with the mother of the 2-year-old victim. Patterson appeared in court Friday morning in Canton, S.D. His bond had been set at $750,000 in cash before the boy’s death.

The violent episode popped off in Patterson’s apartment, police state, where the boy had recently moved with his mother. Patterson called 911 on Wednesday evening to report a choking at the Platinum Valley apartment, but Lt. Blaine Larsen of the Sioux Falls Police Department said it became clear at the hospital that the boy’s injuries were not accidental.

Sioux Falls police said the incident was initially reported as a medical emergency.

“As officers and first responders got there, they found child was unresponsive and he was taken to the hospital,” police spokesman Sam Clemens told USA TODAY Sports. “So they ended up calling police about that or letting them know. We had detectives talk to quite a few people to try to figure out what happened. What they ended up finding was that when the injuries happened there was one person with that child, and that person was Joseph Patterson.”

“The injuries they found were head injuries,” Clemens said, according to local media reports. “It was obvious to medical staff that abuse had taken place and that those injuries weren’t accidental.”

Clemens said police believe the child’s mother was “gone for a short time, and that’s when we believe the injury occurred.”

Patterson’s record of violence against women and children is long as it is despicable:

  • In the aftermath of Patterson’s latest arrest, the Lincoln County prosecutor’s office on Friday filed motions to order Patterson to serve two year-long sentences that had been suspended in two prior domestic cases – one for the simple assault case and another for violating an order to stay away from the victim in that case. Those motions will be heard later this month.
  • Court records show that Patterson has a son with another Sioux Falls woman, and also show that the mother had asked for protection orders twice, claiming he’d choked and punched her, threatened her with a knife and held her in the bedroom against her will. The mother chose not to pursue permanent protection orders, which ultimately were dropped voluntarily in 2010 and 2011.
  • In 2012, Patterson was charged with simple assault against the mother, however, and was ordered to undergo family violence training and to stay away from her until completing it. Patterson’s child lives with his mother, who declined to comment Friday morning when reached by The Argus Leader.
  • Another woman applied for a protection order against Patterson in 2004 in Jackson County, where he attended high school.

Vikings coach Leslie Frazier, speaking before news of the child’s death, said Friday that it would be up to Peterson whether he plays this week.

“We’ll see how things go with him,” Frazier said. “We expect him to play, but this is a very personal situation that he’s dealing with.”

Vikings running back Toby Gerhart said many players had reached out to Peterson.

“We consider each other family and brothers. It’s clichéd and everybody says, ‘We’ve got each other’s back’ when we go on a football field, but when something like this happens, it’s truly a testament of being a teammate and how tight this family is,” Gerhart said.

“It’s a tough situation. We all reached out to him yesterday. Our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family.”

Peterson vowed to play because the gridiron is therapeutic for him during tumultuous times.

“I plan on playing Sunday,” he said. “I will be playing Sunday, correct that. I’ll be ready to roll, focused. I’m worried about getting a W on Sunday, being 1-0… You know, football is something I will always fall back on. It gets me through tough times. Just being around the guys in here, that’s what I need in my life, guys supporting me and just being able to go out and play this game I love. Things that I go through, I’ve said a thousand times, it helps me play this game to a different level. I’m able to kind of release a lot of my stress through this sport, so that’s what I plan on doing.”

No word how the latest news impacts Peterson’s decision to play.

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