The case against the aspiring actor was dismissed because the L.A. County District Attorney's Office "could not secure a material witness"

By Natalie Stone and Aili Nahas
November 06, 2019 12:51 PM
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Hayden Panettiere is back together with ex-boyfriend Brian Hickerson, PEOPLE can confirm.

The Nashville star and aspiring actor were photographed together on Tuesday — more than a month after Hickerson’s felony domestic violence charge was dismissed. Panettiere, 30, and Hickerson were seen walking side-by-side through an airport.

A source tells PEOPLE that some of Panettiere’s family members still “don’t approve of the relationship.”

“They are not fans of Brian,” says the source. “It’s clear that he has issues of his own, not to mention the anger issues, which is obviously a big one.”

In response, Hayden’s attorney Andrew Brettler tells PEOPLE, “Hayden is a strong, intelligent woman who is capable of making her own decisions.”

Hickerson’s attorney did not return PEOPLE’s request for comment.

Panettiere and Hickerson began dating after reports circulated that she and then-fiancé Wladimir Klitschko had split in August 2018. Klitschko, 43, and Panettiere share daughter Kaya, 4, who lives in Ukraine with her father.

Eric Charbonneau/REX/Shutterstock

PEOPLE previously reported that Panettiere’s relationship with Hickerson drew concern from those close to the Heroes alumna, especially after they were reportedly involved in a drunken altercation with his father in October 2018, prompting a visit from police. (No arrests were made.) And this past May, Hickerson was arrested on a domestic violence charge and released on bail.

According to the felony complaint obtained by PEOPLE, prosecutors had alleged Hickerson “willfully inflicted corporal injury resulting in a traumatic condition upon Hayden P.”

Hickerson was charged with one count of felony domestic violence on May 23 and pleaded not guilty, a spokesperson for the L.A. County District Attorney’s Office confirmed to PEOPLE at the time.

In July, Hickerson reportedly appeared in court as a Los Angeles superior judge listened to the testimony from the police officer who responded to the domestic violence call on May 2. During the hearing, the judge denied the motion to dismiss criminal charges against Hickerson and declined to consider a lesser misdemeanor charge.

While Hickerson was facing up to four years in prison if convicted, his case was dismissed at the end of September.

“The case against Brian Hickerson was dismissed without prejudice today,” a spokesperson for the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office told PEOPLE at the time. “Our office was unable to proceed because we could not secure a material witness. The protective order also was dismissed.”

If you are experiencing domestic violence, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233, or go to thehotline.org. All calls are toll-free and confidential. The hotline is available 24/7 in more than 170 languages.