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Dec. 9, 2004

Pacers players, fans charged in Detroit NBA fight

by Michael Bushnell, Page Editor
This is not original reporting. All facts have been gathered from ESPN, the Associated Press, Fox Sports Net, The Indianapolis Star, and The Washington Post.

The Oakland County (Mich.) prosecutor’s office has concluded their three-week long investigation into the November 19 brawl at the Indiana Pacers-Detroit Pistons game by charging five Pacers and seven fans with various crimes. All those charged on December 8, including the National Basketball Association (NBA) players, were served with arrest warrants, and will be required to turn themselves in, as reported by the Associated Press.

The lone man to be charged with a felony in the incident was Bryant Jackson. He was the man Oakland County Police (OCPD) say threw a chair into the crowd during the fight. He was charged with felonious batter, according to the OCPD and various wire reports.

The five Pacers charged were Ron Artest, Jermaine O’Neal, Stephen Jackson, Anthony Johnson and David Harrison. All but O’Neal were charged with one count each of misdemeanor assault and battery, a crime that carries a maximum penalty of three months in jail and a $500 fine. O’Neal faces two counts of the charge.

Artest was charged for beating up Mike Ryan of Clarkston, Michigan, the first fan that was attacked in the stands. Video shows Stephen Jackson assaulting fan William Paulson, who allegedly threw a drink at Artest once he was in the stands. Paulson received the same charge as Jackson.

According to Oakland County prosecutor David Gorcyca, Bryant Jackson could face four years in jail, or even more due to his past criminal record that is reportedly littered with other convictions.

According to the Associated Press, and as reported on the December 8 evening edition of SportsCenter, John Ackerman, 67, was also charged with misdemeanor assault. Police reports charge them with misdemeanor assault for allegedly throwing drinks at players during the fight. Matt Tully of The Indianapolis Star reported that Ackerman, 67, allegedly threw a cup at O’Neal as he left the court.

The Associated Press also reported that, during Wednesday’s presentation to the assembled media, describing the charges and the investigation, that Gorcyca singled out fan John Green. He was identified by police as the man (seen on the tape in the blue baseball-style jersey) who threw the now infamous beer at Artest as he lay on the scorers table, inciting the whole incident. He was hit with two counts of misdemeanor assault, for throwing the cup, and for punching Artest in the stands, according to The Washington Post.

Gorcyca said that Green “single-handedly incited this whole interaction between the fans and players and probably is the one that’s most culpable.” Fox Sports Net reported on a recent edition of The Midwest Sports Report that Green has a past criminal record that includes multiple stints in jail.

Also charged with misdemeanor assault was David Wallace, of Selma, Alabama, the brother of Pistons forward Ben Wallace. He was identified by police as being the burly man in the gray shirt, seen on the tape hitting Pacer Fred Jones in the back of the head multiple times during the scrum in the stands.

Jones was not charged by police or suspended by the NBA. The Washington Post reported that fans Charlie Haddad and A.J. Shackleford were cited for violating a ban against running onto the court.

Pistons CEO Tom Wilson said on ESPN that the organization was working on banning all fans charged from attending any events at The Palace again. Green has already received a lifetime ban.

While the reasons why Artest, O’Neal and Jackson were charged is clear, the tape of the fight seen by the public doesn’t show Harrison or Johnson as much. Gorcyca said that he and his staff had tape of Harrison punching Ackerman in the face after he threw a drink at O’Neal. Johnson was seen on the live tape picking up a dustpan in the tunnel exiting the court and threatening fans with it.

The NBA never suspended Harrison. Artest was suspended by commissioner David Stern for the remainder of the 2004-05 season. O’Neal received a 25 game suspension, Jackson got 30, and Johnson received a five game ban. As a result, Johnson and Harrison are the only charged players currently active for the Pacers.

Gorcyca said that, most likely, all those involved without a prior criminal record would receive a fine and probation. None of the players have convictions on file, though Artest has a pair of previous arrests where domestic violence was alleged.

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  • hmm. on December 14, 2004
    This is not original reporting. All facts have been gathered from ESPN.

    hahahaha very fitting bushnell.
  • nick on December 14, 2004
    hey its detroit city what do u exspect those ppl are frekin psyhco
  • daphlow (View Email) on December 16, 2004
    Big Up to The Sheed who had the right attitude during the fight.
  • felicia (View Email) on December 23, 2004 at 9:27 PM
    that game stinked
  • sage (View Email) on December 24, 2004 at 4:17 PM
    yo they was fadeing alll the way.
  • jackques fields (View Email) on January 27, 2005 at 3:27 PM
    give me more info on fight
  • roman (View Email) on April 12, 2005 at 5:22 PM
    what is it
  • austin (View Email) on May 19, 2005 at 12:57 PM
    that fight was crazy write back
  • Joyce (View Email) on June 1, 2005 at 9:29 PM
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