The first police officer to arrive at Chris Cook's Eden Prairie townhouse early on Oct. 22 testified that he found Cook shirtless and "jacked up," while a sobbing young woman sat on the living room floor, her nose bloodied.
Officer Matthew Schmidt testified during the Minnesota Vikings cornerback's trial on charges of felony domestic assault and third-degree assault that he had barely left his squad car about 1:30 a.m. when he heard yelling and screaming that, he said, "anybody would recognize as someone in distress." He said he ran toward the door of Cook's home and could see him through a window in the entryway.
Schmidt testified that the 25-year-old Cook ignored his orders to open the locked door and only did so when Schmidt threatened to kick it down. Once inside, he saw Cook's then-girlfriend, Chantel Baker, 21, sobbing hysterically and clutching her left ear. Fearing for Baker's safety, he ordered her outside, while he attempted to calm down an angry Cook.
"I guess I would use the term 'jacked up,'" Schmidt testified of Cook's demeanor. "His muscles were flexed, he was agitated, clearly very emotional about something."
In cross-examination, defense attorney David Valentini challenged Schmidt's characterization of Cook on the night of his arrest, noting that it did not appear in Schmidt's report filed that night but was added four months later. Under questioning, Schmidt also told the jury that after some initial resistance Cook cooperated, if reluctantly.
Schmidt said Cook repeatedly tried to follow Baker outside, saying, "I need to check on her," and "I need to see if she's OK," until the officer threatened to handcuff him. Schmidt said Cook appeared "frustrated," and only calmed down when his roommate, William Grishaw, came downstairs and urged him to listen to the officer.
During Schmidt's testimony, prosecutors showed a photo taken of Baker immediately after the assault. A trickle of blood ran from her right nostril, while her left eye was puffy. Her eyes appeared red from crying. On Thursday afternoon, photos of Cook were shown; he had a small, bloody scratch on his right cheek. Valentini asked why additional small cuts to his nose and cheek were not included in Schmidt's report. The officer answered that he had not seen them, and under questioning agreed that Cook had proved reluctant to show injuries because "he didn't want to get Ms. Baker in trouble."
Also on the stand Thursday, Eden Prairie police officer Janina Ann Wresh concurred with Schmidt's earlier testimony, saying when she arrived at the door, the officer and Cook were "squared off" at the door, in a posture that caused her concern for Schmidt's safety.
Baker, she said, was seated outside, shoulders hunched, sobbing and holding the left side of her head. On additional examination, Wresh said she saw blood on Baker's face and red marks on her left cheek and marks and abrasions to her neck and chin. Baker complained of a headache and difficulty breathing and swallowing, she said.
Baker said she had been choked, and Wresh said her injuries were consistent with that claim. The officer described Baker's demeanor as "somber and crying." At no time, she said, did Baker appear to be angry or aggressive.
Baker testified Wednesday. Prosecutors portrayed her as the victim of a brutal assault, choked and battered by a jealous boyfriend, but who recanted her story days later out of guilt and fear that she could ruin Cook's football career.
As Cook's defense attorneys portrayed her, the Virginia college student was violent and destructive when she attacked Cook at his townhouse, then lied that he'd choked her to ensure he'd spend the night in jail. He struck her with an open hand in self-defense after she struck him in the back of the head with a high-heeled shoe.
Baker testified she had fabricated the choking story when police arrived.
"At that time of the night, I wanted him to go to jail," she testified. "I figured saying anything in my power would get him to go to jail that night."
Testimony will continue Friday afternoon. Cook, 25, is expected to take the stand in his own defense later in the trial.
Staff writer Maria Elena Baca contributed to this report. Abby Simons • 612-673-4921