SAN JOSE -- Chris Culliver is in trouble again. And this time it involves far more than inappropriate comments.
The 49ers cornerback was arrested Friday on suspicion of hit-and-run driving and other charges after San Jose police said he struck a bicyclist, fled the scene and rammed a witness' vehicle before being blocked from leaving until officers arrived.
At the time of his arrest, Culliver, who made national headlines at last year's Super Bowl for anti-gay comments, was found to be in possession of brass knuckles, police said.
The incident started around 10:20 a.m., when a bicyclist was struck in the intersection of Tully Road and South Seventh Street by a white Mustang that fled the scene. A witness's car was struck as the Mustang fled, and the witness followed the Mustang down Tully toward Senter Road to the area of Mekler Drive. The witness was able to block the Mustang on a nearby street and waited for police to arrive.
Residents described a pearl white and fluorescent green custom-painted Mustang with dealer plates, blocked in by a black Chevrolet Suburban and an orange pickup truck.
Richard Portillo, a 60-year-old retiree, said he heard screeching tires like cars speeding around corners but didn't think much of it. He went outside about three minutes later and saw the Mustang stopped in front of a pair of police cruisers blocking off the entrance of the street.
"I thought someone was getting a ticket," he said. "I thought they were racing. If I knew what was going on I would have checked it out for sure."
Culliver was arrested, and a search of his car produced the brass knuckles. He was booked into Santa Clara County main jail and faces charges of felony hit-and-run, felony reckless driving with injury, felony possession of brass knuckles, misdemeanor hit-and-run and misdemeanor driving on a suspended license, police said.
The bicyclist suffered minor injuries and was released at the scene.
Culliver posted bail -- which according to jail records was $36,000 -- and walked briskly out of the main jail at 5:15 p.m. Friday, saying nothing to reporters. A woman who joined him cursed at journalists as they pursued Culliver, who got into the passenger side of a white minivan parked at the curb and drove away.
In a statement, 49ers general manager Trent Baalke said: "The 49ers organization is aware of the recent matter involving Chris Culliver. We will remain in contact with Chris and the local authorities as we continue to gather the facts regarding this situation. As this is an ongoing legal matter, we will reserve further comment at this time."
Reached by phone Thursday afternoon, Culliver's personal publicist, Teddy Palmer, said he could not speak about the matter.
"We don't have any comment right now," Palmer said.
Culliver, 25, a third-round pick by the 49ers in 2011, missed all last season with a severe knee injury. But his rehabilitation has been progressing well and the expectation had been that he would compete for a starting position this upcoming season.
He also had been rehabilitating his image.
In a story in this newspaper last week, Culliver had talked at length about how much he had changed since last year's Super Bowl when he became a distraction for the 49ers with homophobic remarks. When asked in a Media Day interview if the 49ers had any homosexual players, Culliver said: "No. Ain't got no gay people on the team. They gotta get up outta here if they do. Can't be with that sweet stuff."
Culliver apologized, then played poorly in the 34-31 loss to the Baltimore Ravens.
But since then, he has reached out to LGBT groups -- who had praised his character at length and lauded his efforts to become a voice of tolerance. He told this newspaper that he would have no problem playing with gay teammates.
Also this month, he received a "champion of compassion" award from a San Francisco animal welfare group because of his admirable life values, as one organizer put it. At a fundraising event on March 13 in San Francisco hosted by Critter Lovers at Work, Culliver was given a standing ovation for his work advocating against dog fighting and promoting animal health care in inner-city neighborhoods.
He has a fundraiser for his own foundation scheduled at the Santa Clara County fairgrounds on April 5.
"I don't think a lot of people understand the things that I do outside of football," Culliver said earlier this month. "I think people are just starting to see who I am."
Contact Eric Kurhi at 408-920-5852. Follow him at Twitter.com/erickurhi.