The burning questions about Ray Rice

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Story highlights

  • The newly released video revives questions about Ray Rice
  • The NFL says it never saw the elevator video until this week
  • The court says the deal Rice struck with prosecutors can't be changed
  • Ray and Janay Rice continue to stand by each other
Ray Rice's original punishment for knocking out his then-fiancee inside the elevator of an Atlantic City casino was controversial, but appeared a done deal: a two-game suspension.
Then, this week, TMZ Sports released footage of surveillance video from inside the elevator that shows the altercation and the knock-out punch.
Suddenly things changed. The Baltimore Ravens fired Rice. The NFL suspended him indefinitely.
The facts never changed -- Rice knocked Janay Palmer (now Janay Rice) unconscious. But the latest video moved the needle in a way that previous coverage hadn't. It has brought back to the forefront some key questions about the incident:
What did the NFL know, and when?
The video is shocking and damning.
It shows Rice and Palmer inside the elevator, where he punches her, and she lunges at the football player. Rice hits his fiancee again, and she falls to the floor.
The Ravens had stood by Rice throughout the fallout, and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell did not alter the two-game suspension, even after admitting he made a mistake. Both the league and the team changed their tune swiftly after this video was released.
To the disbelief of many, the NFL said it had not seen the surveillance footage of inside the elevator until TMZ Sports posted it on the internet.
"We requested from law enforcement any and all information about the incident, including any video that may exist," NFL Vice President of Corporate Communications Brian McCarthy, said, specifically citing New Jersey State Police, Atlantic City police and Atlantic County prosecutor's office as places where the NFL inquired.
"That video was not made available to us and no one in our office saw it until (Monday)," he said in a statement.
Revel Entertainment Group, which owns the casino where the incident happened, said it gave copies of the video to Atlantic City police, the prosecutor's office, the Division of Gaming Enforcement and Rice's attorney.
The company said it could not confirm if the NFL reached out to the casino directly to ask for the surveillance tape.
The prosecutor's office and Atlantic City Police Department did not immediately respond to CNN inquiries about the evidence they had, or any requests from the NFL.
Will Rice go to jail?
After the incident, both Rice and Palmer were arrested and charged with simple assault.
In March, a grand jury indicted Rice on the more serious charge of aggravated assault, a felony that could bring 3-5 years in jail if convicted. The next day, he and Palmer were married.
While the casino said that prosecutors were given the video of inside the elevator, prosecutors have not confirmed whether it was shown to the grand jury.
Rice pleaded not guilty, and the next step would have been a criminal trial. But instead, Rice was accepted into a pretrial intervention program for first-time offenders that could clear him of the charges if he successfully completes the requirements.
"This decision was arrived at after careful consideration of the information contained in Mr. Rice's application in light of all of the facts gathered during the investigation," acting Atlantic County Prosecutor Jim McClain told local media at the time. "After considering all relevant information in light of applicable law, it was determined that this was the appropriate disposition."
The elevator video has renewed outrage, but the court says the prosecutor cannot reconsider or ask the judge to revoke the deal with Rice unless he commits a new crime or doesn't follow along in the program.
"There's really no appeal that's available at this point," CNN Legal Analyst Paul Callan said. "The prosecutor accepted and the judge accepted pretrial intervention."
It is rare to offer pretrial intervention in domestic violence cases, Callan said, but in Atlantic City -- with an elevated homicide rate -- this incident probably was not as big a priority.
How has the narrative changed?
The story itself hasn't changed. The fact that Rice struck and knocked out his fiancee was undisputed from the beginning. So why all the outrage now?
The bad taste in many people's mouths comes from the way the incident has been described to the public by the parties involved.
As more details emerged, culminating with the elevator video, the louder the accusations of an attempted coverup have become.
immediately after the incident, Rice's attorney described the situation at the time as "a very minor physical altercation."
After those statements, an initial video was released by TMZ, which showed the outside of the elevator, and the unconscious body of Palmer.
When the grand jury decided to indict Rice on the more serious felony charge, Rice's attorney, Michael Diamondstein, had this to say as he entered a not-guilty plea: "I can't try the case in the media. There's a significant set of facts that the public doesn't know about yet. As soon as those facts come to light, we believe the public will have a different opinion."
Palmer's lawyer also downplayed the incident.
"No party committed any crime," Palmer's lawyer, Robert Gamburg, told CNN at the time.
"This is part of the due process for Ray," Baltimore Ravens Director of Media Relations Chad Steele said Thursday of the indictment. "We know there is more to Ray Rice than this one incident."
With the release of the latest video, many in the public certainly expressed a new opinion, but hardly in favor of Rice.
What will become of the Rices?
The couple is standing by each other.
Janay Rice on Tuesday expressed outrage, too. Not at her husband, but at everyone making a big deal of her ordeal.
"No one knows the pain that the media & unwanted options from the public has caused my family," Janay Rice wrote in an online post. "To make us relive a moment in our lives that we regret every day is a horrible thing."
According to Janay Rice, waking up after her husband was cut from his team and suspended from the NFL was a nightmare.
"THIS IS OUR LIFE! What don't you all get," Janay Rice wrote. "If your intentions were to hurt us, embarrass us, make us feel alone, take all happiness away, you've succeeded on so many levels. Just know we will continue to grow & show the world what real love is!"
Ray Rice told CNN's Rachel Nichols, in a text message, that "I'm just holding strong for my wife and kid that's all I can do right now."