A woman who dated Basketball Hall of Fame guard Gary Payton for about half a year is entitled to up to $2 million in damages for two alleged beatings at his hands in the aftermath of an awards ceremony in Seattle in 2015, her attorney told a Los Angeles jury Monday.
Nathan Goldberg, on behalf of 30-year-old Trishtan Williams, told the Superior Court jury hearing closing arguments in trial of her civil suit against Payton that the 48-year-old ex-Laker used his position to abuse a person he said he loved.
“This is a case about violence against a woman by a professional athlete who is a basketball player and thinks that gives him the right to do something that none of us has the right to do, Goldberg said.
He said Payton has a net worth of $5.4 million, and suggested awarding Williams $500,000 in compensatory damages and $1.5 million in punitive damages.
“We want it to hurt because it’s the only way to teach Mr. Payton a lesson,” Goldberg said.
Williams, whose allegations include assault and battery, alleges that during her relationship with Payton — they dated from July 2014 to January 2015 — he evolved from being a “Prince Charming” to an individual who cheated on her and became abusive, forcing her to end their union.
Lawyers for Payton deny their client assaulted the plaintiff and contend Williams was a younger woman who wanted to exploit a wealthy older man.
The retired player’s lawyer, John Burris, will give his closing argument Tuesday.
Williams — who is a former producer for “The Amazing Race” and “America’s Next Top Model,” according to IMDb — testified that she met Payton in Las Vegas, unaware of who he was at the time.
Williams said the two eventually traveled together, including the trip to Seattle in late January 2015. Payton worked at the time as a Fox Sports analyst and made a presentation during a sports awards ceremony that evening before the couple returned to the W Seattle hotel in a rented SUV, Williams testified.
Williams said she, Payton and one of his Fox co-workers, Yvette Inclan, later spent three to four hours at Ozzie’s bar, where Payton met with friends who played darts with him.
Williams said the first alleged assault by Payton occurred during the ride back to the hotel from Ozzie’s. She said she was seated in the front passenger seat when the 6-foot-4-inch, 200-plus-pound ex-athlete began choking her and that her head bounced against the right passenger window during the struggle.
Goldberg told jurors that Inclan begged Payton to let go of Williams, quoting her as saying, “Gary, stop, stop, stop!”
Williams, who is 5-foot-2, said her head hit the glass again during an ensuing tussle and that she jumped out of the SUV after Payton slowed down. Both Payton and Inclan implored her to return to the vehicle, Williams said, so she got back in the SUV. She alleged that after they returned to their hotel room, Payton began choking her again and she eventually ended up on the floor.
In his closing statement, Goldberg told jurors that his client told Payton, “I can’t breathe, Gary. All she wanted to do was survive the night and never see his face again.”
Williams said she eventually managed to squirm from under Payton and leave the room.
Payton sat expressionless as he heard the final argument. During the trial, he testified that Williams angered him by posting a photo of herself on Instagram during the awards ceremony that caught the attention of another woman he was dating at the same time, prompting her to send him an angry text.
Payton told jurors that only married men can cheat, but that because he was single, he was free to date as many women as he wanted. Payton had divorced his wife of 14 years several years earlier.
Payton also testified that he considered himself a role model to children, many of whom he mentored over the years at basketball camps. He said that like Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan, he was an NBA legend.
— City News Service
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