Oct 9, 2014

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - It's an announcement that continues to rock a Montgomery church and the surrounding community.

WSFA 12 News confirmed with church leaders, including the now former pastor of Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church, Juan Demetrius McFarland himself, that McFarland confessed from the pulpit a few Sundays ago that he had full blown AIDS and had slept with church members without revealing he had AIDS.

Shocked and stunned, church members contacted the 12 NEWS DEFENDERS and reaction is coming in from the congregation that is still in disbelief.

McFarland didn't hold back when he revealed to worshipers at Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church on Sept. 14, that he contracted HIV in 2003 and discovered in 2008 he had AIDS.

"The church was very accepting of Reverend McFarland and was willing to help him in any way possible," a church member, who wanted to remain unnamed, explained.

Once the pastor, with 23 years of leadership, started revealing more and more on the following Sundays, members and leaders say they realized he had crossed the line.

In a resolution read aloud at the church, leaders shared, and Pastor McFarland confirmed to WSFA 12 News, that he admitted to drug use and mishandling of church funds. And there was what members say was the ultimate shocker, described by church deacon Nathan Williams Jr.

"He concealed from the church that he had knowingly engaged in adultery in the church building with female members of Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church while knowingly having AIDS," Williams said.

McFarland was removed as church pastor on Oct. 5. Still, church members say some congregation members are afraid to come forward and many others are concerned.

"Who does this to people, and you are the leader? Who does this?" another unnamed church member asked.

"I know a young lady who is a member of the church who says she has slept with him and that she didn't want this to go public, and she running out now trying to find out if there is anything wrong with her," the member explained. "And my heart goes out to her because she's been a wonderful church member, and then for something like this to happen. The fact that he didn't tell them at all. That's a crime in itself."

The unnamed church member went on, "And I'm hoping by doing this interview that she will see that she can come and talk to someone and her name or whatever will not be revealed. And maybe she can have some peace by coming forward and not the shame that goes along with it."

Deacon Williams says he's been a member of the church for 70 years, and this is the biggest scandal the church has ever experienced.

"He confessed to the entire membership and then to the City of Montgomery, because as soon as he got done confessing, it went all over Montgomery anyway," Williams said. "So it's nothing we [are] making up. It's coming out of his mouth."

Williams says leaders have obtained legal counsel, and are now focused on moving the church forward.

"Our moves are going to come directly from counsel. We want peace and we want to do things right, legally," Williams said. "We are not looking to hurt him. We are looking to get the church back. That's our theme: Get the church back. We want the church back. That's it."

But some members say they want justice.

"I believe that he should be put on trial," another unnamed church member said. "Go to court and let the judge decide if he should go to jail or not. We tend to sweep things under the rug, especially if they're the leader. It's like oh, no, please let's not get this out but I think after this that they will have more discussions on HIV and AIDS."

These types of discussions are what local pastors like Jackie Slaughter of Metropolitan United Methodist Church say need to happen in all churches.

"If we are all sisters and brothers, when one person is hurting, we all should feel that hurt. And if we think about the statistics, specifically for our ethnic group, we are bearing the brunt of it," Slaughter said. "So I think it behooves us to try to really want to try to be involved because we are all connected, we are all connected and that makes a difference when we are thinking about issues like this."

WSFA 12 News spoke with Pastor McFarland on the phone after he made his announcement. He answered questions and confirmed everything he shared with his congregation.

WSFA 12 News reached out to him again to get a comment after he was removed as pastor, but he did not return calls or text messages.

"Transmitting a Sexually Transmitted Disease" is a Class C Misdemeanor, according to the Montgomery Police Department. At this time, no charges have been filed against McFarland.

Deacon Williams and other members who spoke both on and off camera say they want to start the healing process and move forward with new leadership. Members are asking for prayers to lift their church.

McFarland also holds the position of Moderator with the Alabama Middle District Baptist Association, which includes 34 churches across the state. Calls to association leaders indicate that at this time there are no discussions to remove McFarland from his position.

WSFA 12 News will continue to follow any developments concerning this story.
Ephren Taylor II
A man who targeted church groups across Georgia pleaded guilty Wednesday in federal court to defrauding hundreds of victims of their retirement savings.

Ephren Taylor II took in more than $7 million nationwide — including $2 million from at least 80 victims across Georgia, said U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates in Atlanta.

Taylor claimed to be a socially conscious investor while traveling the country on a “Building Wealth Tour,” giving wealth management seminars to church congregations. One of the churches whose membership he scammed was the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, a megachurch with many affluent members.

Taylor claimed 20 percent of the profits were donated to charity and he vamped promissory notes in investments such as juice bars, laundries, and gas stations that he knew would not be profitable, Yates said. But Taylor not only promised profits, but ones as high as 300 percent in “sweepstakes machines,” which are computers loaded with games that offer cash prizes to players, officials said.

“The United States Secret Service is aggressive in our investigative mission to arrest those who commit financial crimes,” said Reginald G. Moore, Special Agent in Charge of the United States Secret Service, Atlanta Field Office. “In this case, we were particularly resolved to bring to justice a criminal who chose to take advantage of unsuspecting members of the public in environments of reverence and trust.”

Taylor’s co-defendant, Wendy Connor, the former COO of City Capital Corporation, participated in a conspiracy to defraud investors and also has pleaded guilty in the scheme that ran from April 2009 to October 2010, Yates said.

The sentencing for Taylor, 32, of Overland Park, Kan., is scheduled for Dec. 18 at 2:30 p.m. Connor, 45, of Raleigh, N.C., is scheduled to be sentenced the same day at 9:30 a.m.

Oct 7, 2014


Florida has suspended true freshman quarterback Treon Harris who is being investigated for sexual assault on the Gainesville campus, according to a press release distributed by the university Monday.

The 5-foot-11, 190-pound Harris is from Miami and has been suspended from all team activities.

The statement explains Harris is accused of sexually assaulting a female student early Sunday morning in a university residence hall.

The following is the full statement from University of Florida University Relations:

University of Florida student athlete Treon Harris is accused of sexually assaulting a female student early Sunday morning in a residence hall on the UF campus.

The University of Florida Police Department is investigating the incident, and UFPD has brought in the Gainesville Police Department to assist with collection and analysis of forensic evidence.

The investigation is ongoing and we do not have an update regarding any charges at this time.

The University of Florida and the University Athletic Association are cooperating fully.

Due to legal and privacy requirements, there are limitations as to what the university can say publicly about a pending matter such as this. In these types of serious situations, Student Affairs initiates the Student Conduct Code process. Often, a student may be suspended on an interim basis, which means he or she is banned from campus and all campus activities, pending the outcome of the conduct process.

UAA has suspended Treon Harris from all team activities.

"We have no tolerance for sexual assault on our campus," UF President Bernie Machen said. "The university is committed to providing a safe and inclusive environment for every member of the UF community. We must strive to protect all of our students from sexual harassment and assault, and do everything in our power to promote a safe learning environment."

UF continues to provide a wide variety of support services and resources. The university continually enhance its campus efforts to address issues of sexual assault and harassment.

As this process unfolds and is resolved, UF is committed to addressing this serious matter with integrity, fairness and compassion.

Oct 2, 2014

Jacksonville, Florida (CNN) -- Jurors found Michael Dunn guilty of first-degree murder Wednesday in the 2012 shooting death of 17-year-old Jordan Davis.

Dunn's parents were in the courtroom for the verdict. Davis' parents, Ron Davis and Lucia MacBath, both let out a quiet gasp upon hearing the jury forewoman's words and then hung their heads and cried.

Dunn did not appear to have an immediate reaction, but later, he turned around and somberly shook his head toward his father.

Dunn, 47, was charged with murder after shooting into an SUV full of teenagers at a Jacksonville, Florida, gas station following a squabble over the music emanating from the teens' vehicle.

Outside the courtroom, Davis' mother expressed her gratitude for a verdict she said represented justice not only for her son but for "Trayvon and for all the nameless faces and children and people that will never have a voice." She was referring to Trayvon Martin, an unarmed teenager killed earlier the same year by a neighborhood watch captain who was acquitted in the death.

"Words cannot express our joy but also our great sorrow because ... we know that Jordan has received his justice," she said. "We know that Jordan's life and legacy will live on for others, but at the same time, we're very saddened by the life that Michael Dunn will continue to live. We are saddened for his family, for his friends and the community that will continue to suffer by his actions."

The victim's father said the verdict made Jacksonville "a shining example that you could have a jury made of mostly white people, white men," that delivers justice in a racially charged case.

"Hopefully," Davis said, "this is a start where we don't have to look at the makeup of a jury anymore."

Prosecutor Angela Corey said Dunn faces a life term along with a minimum of 25 to life for using a firearm.

"It's a vindication for justice," she said of the verdict.

"We believe that we have to have as much justice as we can to assure that Michael Dunn will never ever walk out of a prison."

Duval County Judge Russell Healey set a tentative sentencing hearing for October 17 but said he would wait until Tuesday to ensure the date worked for Dunn's defense attorneys.

"This has been going on for two years, and everyone has acted graciously. I ask that you continue to do that," Healey said before the verdict was read. "Remember, we must respect the verdict of the jury. They did not volunteer to do this."

Dunn has said he shot at the vehicle because he thought Davis had a weapon and feared for his life, but the prosecution has alleged Dunn was the aggressor and pointed out he kept firing even after the teens fled.

Three of the 10 shots that Dunn fired struck Davis, one of them cutting through his liver, a lung and his aorta.

Investigators say Davis never had a weapon, nor was one found in the teens' SUV or the surrounding area.

A jury found Dunn guilty of four charges in February, commanding at least 60 years in prison, but the jury was hung on the murder charge related to Davis' November 2012 death.

Jurors began deliberating on the new charges just before 10 a.m. ET on Wednesday, after Healey dismissed two of the three alternates and provided instructions for the charges jurors were to consider.

The first charge to consider, Healey said, was first-degree murder, which would require that Dunn premeditated killing Davis.

If the jury didn't feel the state proved first-degree murder, it was instructed to move on to second-degree, which would mean Dunn killed Davis via a criminal or depraved act.

The third charge was manslaughter, which would require a finding that Dunn unlawfully caused Davis' death.

Juror: 'Race was never a factor'

Killing Davis was lawful, Healey told the jury, if Dunn acted in the heat of passion or if he unintentionally caused Davis' death. The jury could also find Dunn not guilty if he was in danger, acted in self-defense and exacted a justifiable use of force, the judge instructed.

Dunn was convicted in February on one count of shooting into a vehicle and three counts of attempted second-degree murder -- one each for Davis' friends, Leland Brunson, Tommie Stornes and Tevin Thompson, who were in the Dodge Durango with Davis that day.

Juror: 'I believed he was guilty'

The Satellite Beach, Florida, man hasn't been sentenced on those charges, but prosecutor Eric Wolfson said at the time of the conviction that each attempted second-degree murder charge carries a minimum sentence of at least 20 years. There's also a 15-year sentence possible on the conviction for shooting at the teenager's vehicle, Wolfson said.

Sep 25, 2014

The blackest black person in the Obama Administration is resigning!  Yes, you read that correctly!  That's how I feel about Eric Holder.  I feel he is one of the black people in the Obama Administration that gets black people pain and isn't afraid to voice it.  I'm really sad to see him go.

WASHINGTON — Attorney General Eric Holder is resigning, NPR reports.

According to NPR's Carrie Johnson, Holder will step down as soon as his successor is confirmed. The AP confirmed the news with a White House official, and ABC News also reported Thursday that Holder will resign.

Holder has served as attorney general since 2009. He is the nation’s first black attorney general, and one of the longest-serving in the history of the United States.

He will announce his resignation at a White House event on Thursday afternoon.

Holder has spoken about his resignation before, telling the New Yorker in February he was planning to leave office sometime this year.

Did you watch ABC's new sitcom "Blackish"?  If the answer is yes, I would love to know what you think.

Honestly, I have to say I love the show.  It was beyond relatable for me. 

If you missed the show make sure you check it out on Wednesdays at 9:30 PM EST on ABC.

Sep 23, 2014

Prolific writer and playwright J. California Cooper has died at the age of 82, a family friend has confirmed to EBONY.com.

Cooper passed away peacefully in Seattle, Washington on September 20th, with daughter Paris Williams by her side.

The Berkley-native was best known for her short stories and plays including Strangers, which earned a 1978 Black Playwright Award. Cooper authored six short story collections including A Piece of Mine, Homemade Love (winner of the 1989 American Book Award), Some Soul to Keep, The Matter is Life, Some Love, Some Pain, Sometime, and Wild Stars Seeking Midnight Suns. Her short story Funny Valentine was turned into a 1999 TV movie.

Cooper moved from California to Seattle in 2013, where she continued to write and spend time surrounded by family and friends. Funeral information has not yet been released.

Sep 15, 2014

We've all heard the saying, "spare the rod, spoil the child," but at what point does discipline of a child actually becomes abuse?

NFL running back Adrian Peterson recent indictment for child abuse has brought this discussion back to forefront. 

Peterson is accused of disciplining his FOUR year old son with a switch.  The above pictures were used as evidence of the beating.

So my question is:  Is this discipline or is this abuse?

Sep 11, 2014

ATLANTA — The Atlanta Hawks cancelled a scheduled meeting between their CEO and city civil rights leaders Wednesday, prompting one of the group's leaders to say his community was greatly offended.

The Rev. Markel Hutchins said the meeting with CEO Steve Koonin was called off "at the last minute." He later said he received a call from Hawks spokesman Garin Narain on Tuesday night asking the appointment be postponed.

Hutchins said he needed to hear that request from Koonin, and because Koonin didn't personally cancel the meeting, the group of 12 civil rights leaders showed up as planned.

When they entered Philips Arena and were told there would be no meeting, Hutchins and the other leaders said they were insulted.

"The entire civil rights community, locally and nationally, have been offended, the likes of which we have not seen in this community in decades," Hutchins said.

The group asked for the meeting to discuss what Hutchins said was the Hawks' "disrespect for people of color." The request followed racially charged comments by Hawks co-owner Bruce Levenson and general manager Danny Ferry.

In a statement Wednesday, the Hawks asked for patience from the community and said they want to reschedule the meeting.

"Koonin postponed today's meeting last night," the Hawks' statement said. "This conversation is a priority for us. We are committed to having this meeting and will work with community leaders to reschedule as soon as possible. We ask our community to work with us, be patient with us, and help us heal."

The Hawks did not say why the meeting was cancelled.

Levenson said Sunday he will sell his majority share of the team. Koonin said Tuesday Ferry has been punished but won't be fired.

Hutchins said when he arranged the meeting with Koonin on Monday night, he made it clear the group wanted Ferry to lose his job.

"Perhaps one of the reasons why they cancelled the meeting is we made it very clear we were going to demand in our conversations that Danny Ferry be fired or resign," Hutchins said. "There is no way that a man who uses the kind of language and holds the kind of sentiments that he does should be the general manager of the basketball team in the home of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the cradle of the civil rights movement."

Others also have called for Ferry to be fired. Former NBA great Magic Johnson said late Tuesday on his Twitter feed "Atlanta Hawks GM Danny Ferry should step down after making racist statements about NBA player Luol Deng."

Deng and Ferry are former Duke players under Mike Krzyzewski, who is coaching the U.S. team at the World Cup. Krzyzewski said he couldn't comment on the controversy involving his former players because he hasn't followed the news.

Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau, serving as an assistant on the U.S. team, defended Deng on Wednesday.

"I've never been around a better person," Thibodeau said. "He's not only a great basketball player, he's an even better person. I'll stand by Luol any day. He's good. He's done a lot of great things in the community. He's a great human being. He's a very humble guy. He has a lot of integrity. I can't say enough good things about him. ... It was a privilege for me to be his coach."

Thibodeau said he "can't imagine" why Ferry made the statements.

Ferry made inflammatory comments about Deng in a conference call with the Hawks' ownership group in June when the team pursued Deng as a free agent. Ferry described Deng as someone who "has a little African in him."

Deng, who was born in what is now South Sudan, now plays for the Miami Heat. He responded to Ferry's comment on Tuesday by saying, "I'm proud to say I actually have a lot of African in me, not just 'a little.'"

A letter from co-owner Michael Gearon Jr. to Levenson recommended that Ferry resign or be fired. Gearon said Ferry made that description of Deng to the team's ownership group.

Gearon's June 12 letter to Levenson said Ferry went on to say, "Not in a bad way, but he's like a guy who would have a nice store out front and sell you counterfeit stuff out of the back."

Added Gearon: "Ferry completed the racial slur by describing the player (and impliedly all persons of African descent) as a two-faced liar and cheat."


 (Washington Post) -- Black men. Fellas. Brothers.

Stop complaining about Ray Rice’s (much deserved and yet woefully insufficient) punishment. Right now.

When we are beaten, slain and otherwise persecuted, our sisters, our mothers, and our women stand for us with nearly unilateral, unwavering support. They march for us. They cry out our names and demand justice. They support us in our moments of quiet fear when we shed the bitter tears of self-doubt and fatigue.

Why aren’t we doing the same?

Stephen A. Smith wasn’t alone in blaming black women for the violence against them. Too many black men are making shameful attempts to explain away the punch that Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice laid on his then-fiancee, Janay Palmer. The caught-on-tape abuse earned Rice an indefinite suspension from the NFL this week. That’s the least he should suffer for knocking a woman unconscious. It’s foolish to watch that video and see it any other way.

And yet, black men are complaining about Ray Rice’s punishment and diminishing his actions:

“It couldn’t have been that bad. She married him.”

It doesn’t matter.

“She should know he’s a big man and, if provoked, he’s gonna hit back.”

It doesn’t matter.

“She hit him first.”

It doesn’t matter.

“He’s trained to hit. He can’t stop it. It’s a reflex.”

That’s absurd and even if it were true, it doesn’t matter.

When you say these kinds of things — when you look for ways to go easy on Ray Rice — you are doing two things: First, you’re telling black women, “Your lives and your sense of safety have less value to me than the recreational sports that I watch ritually.” You’re telling the women who stand for you, cry for you and demand justice for you, “Thanks for all that, but don’t mess with my game.” You damage their feeling of safety with you. You reinforce the perception that they are alone in their struggle. All of that leaves them even more vulnerable in a society that so often leaves them behind.

The second thing you do – and this is irony – is borrow from the script of people like Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson’s supporters. Let’s compare notes:

“He shouldn’t have been in the street.”

It doesn’t matter.

“He should have listened to the cop.”

It doesn’t matter.

“It was reflex. Cops are trained to shoot to kill. He couldn’t help it.”

Are you seeing the terrifying parallel? None of these excuses matter.

Brothers, recognize wrong and stand up for what’s right. Whatever happened between Ray and Janay Rice, and whatever they did to patch things up, is irrelevant. The bottom line is that no man has business hitting — let alone knocking out — any woman over a spat. He should regard the use of his body against her as lethal force and exercise restraint above all else.

Stop complaining about Ray Rice’s suspension. Stop minimizing his behavior. Stop giving in to blind idol worship.

And stop sipping your tea. This is your business.

When one of our sisters is hurt, abused or in peril, it’s our business. Because when some authority has us jammed against a car with guns drawn on us, they always make it their business to speak out. They throw themselves in peril to see us safe.

It’s a shame when we cannot do the same.

Sep 9, 2014

Man, if this is what is passing off as love these days then consider me not worthy of it.  My hurt breaks for Mrs. Rice, but not because she had to relive what happened to her.  My heart breaks for her because she believes its what the MEDIA has done that has cause pain to her family.  Maybe she thinks a man putting his hands on her is love.  I don't know, but at the end of the day who am I to judge.  I just pray that she and Ray get the help that they deserve so that they don't spread this pathology to their child.  Love knows no bounds, but sometimes a fist to the face might just be a wake-up call.  Maybe its just me.

(Huffington Post) --- When Keith Olbermann sees NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, he will only think of one thing: Ray Rice's left hand.

The ESPN talk show host eviscerated Goodell during an impassioned rebuke of the many parties responsible for mishandling the punishment of Ray Rice following his domestic violence arrest in February. Olbermann called on Goodell to resign from his post or be removed by team owners in segment that aired on Monday. The call for Goodell's resignation or ouster came just hours after the Baltimore Ravens released the veteran running back and the NFL announced that he had been suspended indefinitely. Both moves came only after TMZ released a video showing Rice striking then-fiancee Janay Palmer in an elevator during a February incident at a casino in Atlantic City, N.J.

"Mr. Goodell's ineptitude has not merely rendered this football season meaningless and irrelevant by contrast, it has not only reduced supporting or watching NFL football to a distasteful even a disrespectful act, but most importantly it has comforted the violent and afflicted the victim," Olbermann said. "His push to increase NFL punishment of domestic abusers to roughly one-third that of repeat pot smokers, his decision today to suspend Rice indefinitely after the Ravens had fired him are elements of classic tragedy wherein the right thing is finally done only after it is too late to matter. Roger Goodell's existence, who he is, what he has turned the NFL Commissioner's office into is now symbolized by Ray Rice's brutal left hand striking Janay Palmer, and striking her again. Mr. Goodell is an enabler of men who beat women. His position within the National Football League is no longer tenable."

(AJC) -- Hawks co-owner Michael Gearon Jr. wrote a letter to majority owner Bruce Levenson asking that he request the resignation or terminate with cause general manager Danny Ferry in June.

In a letter obtained by WSB Channel 2, dated June 12, Gearon Jr. cites a racist statement made by Ferry when discussing a potential free agent with ownership during a conference call. That player was not mentioned by name in the letter but referred to as a “highly-regarded African-American player and humanitarian.” According to sources the player was Luol Deng.
After discussing positives of the player, Ferry described the negatives as “He has a little African in him. Not in a bad way, but he’s like a guy who would have a nice store out front but sell you counterfeit stuff out of the back.” The letter states the Ferry completed the slur by describing the player as “a two-faced liar and cheat.”

In the letter, Gearon Jr. noted that Levenson and his business partner and fellow co-owner Ed Peskowitz were on the call. Gearon Jr. also noted that the call had been recorded for the purposes of note taking.

Gearon Jr. states that he is “appalled” by the comments. He writes “If Ferry’s comments are ever made public, and it’s a safe bet they will someday, it could be fatal to the franchise.”


Sep 8, 2014

Woman-bashing Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice was cut by his team Monday after a horrific new video showing him decking his fiancée in a casino elevator emerged.

“The #Ravens have terminated RB Ray Rice's contract this afternoon,” the team announced in a terse tweet.

The shocking development came amid renewed outrage over the way the NFL handled the scandal and as Ravens coach John Harbaugh scheduled an 8 p.m. news conference at which the running back’s future was expected to be discussed.

Rice, who rushed for more than 1,000 yards in four straight seasons for the Ravens, was already in the doghouse after a disappointing 2013 season during which he gained 660 yards and scored just four touchdowns.

The new footage posted by TMZ.com on Monday showed Rice knocking out Janay Palmer seconds after the doors closed — and sent shockwaves across professional football.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell had taken heat for suspending Rice for just two games after the first batch of tape emerged last month showing the player dragging his unconscious wife out of the elevator.

Confronted with the new footage, Goodell insisted he had never seen it before.

“We requested from law enforcement any and all information about the incident, including the video from inside the elevator,” the NFL said in a statement. “That video was not made available to us. And no one in our office has seen it until today.”

Contacted by The Daily News, the Atlantic County prosecutor's office declined to comment on the video or the NFL’s claim that they never saw it.

But an Atlantic City Police statement issued after the Feb. 15 incident at the Revel Casino made it clear that investigators had eyeballed the fracas footage.

“After reviewing surveillance footage it appeared both parties were involved in a physical altercation,” the statement said. “The complaint summons indicates that both (Rice) and Palmer struck each other with their hands. The responding officer signed a simple assault complaint against both Rice and Palmer."

(TMZ) -- This is what a two game suspension looks like -- Ray Rice delivering a vicious punch to his fiancee's face, knocking her out cold ... and TMZ Sports has the shocking video.

We've already shown you the aftermath outside the elevator ... Rice dragging the unconscious woman on the floor. But we've now obtained video of the punch that put her down, raising the question ... What was the NFL thinking when it wrist-slapped Rice with such feeble punishment?

The incident took place Feb. 15th at the Revel Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City -- after Ray and then-fiancee (now wife) Janay Palmer got into a heated argument on their way into the elevator.

Inside the elevator it's apparent he strikes first ... she hits back ... and then Rice delivers the knockout blow.
The punch knocks Janay off her feet -- and she smashes her head on the elevator hand rail ... knocking her out cold. Ray doesn't seem phased ... and when the door opens, he drags her out into the hotel.

An employee of the hotel -- which just shut down for good -- tells TMZ Sports he was working there at the time and says the NFL saw the elevator footage before imposing the 2-game suspension.

We reached out to the NFL for comment several times -- so far, radio silence.

Read more: http://www.tmz.com/2014/09/08/ray-rice-elevator-knockout-fiancee-takes-crushing-punch-video/#ixzz3CjIXOTZD