August 7, 2015 / 6:09 PM / 4 years ago

San Francisco 49ers release Aldon Smith after DUI arrest

(Reuters) - The San Francisco 49ers released linebacker Aldon Smith on Friday, a day after police in Northern California arrested him on suspicion of driving under the influence, hit-and-run and vandalism in the latest in a string of brushes with the law for the former Pro Bowl player.

San Francisco 49ers outside linebacker Aldon Smith (99) jokes with teammate defensive back Chris Culliver (29) as they pose for a team picture during Media Day for the NFL's Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans, Louisiana January 29, 2013. REUTERS/Sean Gardner

“This organization has tried very hard to help Aldon fight his issues,” the 49ers said in a statement announcing his release. “Although he is no longer a member of this team, our support and concern for him will continue.”

The Santa Clara Police Department said Smith was arrested on Thursday night. He is accused of hitting a car while parking, causing vandalism by hitting the same car with his door when exiting his vehicle, and then leaving the scene, police said, adding that Smith later returned to his car and was arrested.

Smith, 25, who had been in training camp this week, was suspended for nine games last season after a previous DUI arrest and weapons violations.

After his release from jail on Friday, he denied he was driving under the influence on Thursday night.

“The situation that happened could have been handled differently,” Smith said. “I apologize to everybody I did let down and I apologize for how it all played out.”

He was released on $26,000 bail and had his arraignment set for Oct. 6.

Smith was arrested at Los Angeles International Airport in April 2014 during an incident police said stemmed from a false bomb threat he made to security screeners. Prosecutors declined to file charges.

In 2013, he was charged with possessing illegal assault weapons and driving under the influence and later pleaded no contest to the charges, resulting in a three-year probation sentence, according to the Mercury News.

A 2012 Pro Bowler, Smith has amassed 44 sacks in 50 games since San Francisco selected him with the seventh pick in the 2011 NFL Draft. He recorded 14 sacks in his rookie season and 19.5 sacks in his second year, but had just two sacks in seven games last season.

Smith reworked his contract in March, moving from a $9.75 million guaranteed deal into a package featuring a $1 million base salary and monthly roster bonuses.

“He won’t have to walk this path alone,” 49ers head coach Jim Tomsula said. “We’re not worried about football. It has nothing to do with football.”

Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles, Steve Ginsburg in Washington, and Suzannah Gonzales in Chicago; Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Eric Beech

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