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11-22-2004, 05:05 PM
Fans, players may face criminal charges
West Bloomfield Township man allegedly started fracasFriday by throwing cup at Indiana Pacers star Artest

The Associated Press
Updated: 2:24 p.m. ET Nov. 22, 2004


PONTIAC, Mich. - Fans, players and other team personnel could face criminal charges for their roles in a brawl that broke out at the end of an Indiana Pacers-Detroit Pistons game at The Palace of Auburn Hills, a prosecutor said.

Oakland County Prosecutor David Gorcyca said he repeatedly viewed a videotape of the melee at Friday night's game. He said authorities have identified and questioned a fan who they say threw a cup that hit Indiana's Ron Artest and started the brawl.

A resident of West Bloomfield Township confirmed in a telephone conversation with Auburn Hills police that he is that fan, Gorcyca said Monday. However, he failed to show up for a scheduled in-person interview, and authorities have lost contact with him.

Gorcyca said the man most likely would face charges.


"He, I think, precipitated the whole event that transpired in the spectator section," Gorcyca told WXYZ-TV on Sunday. "I think he's going to be facing some criminal charges."

Asked whether players would be charged, the prosecutor said: "I don't want to pinpoint players, but I would say yes. Based upon what I've seen, I believe there will be some charges levied against certain players."

Personnel for both teams also are among the circle of people who might face charges, Gorcyca said.

Gorcyca said police have received some witness statements, but he said he doubted any of the players would help the investigation.

"Auburn Hills has made contact with the NBA about player interviews, but I suspect very strongly that they will on advice of counsel probably not cooperate with the investigation," he said.

As Gorcyca spoke Monday, he was on his way to a meeting with Auburn Hills police about the case. He said he doubted any charges would be brought Monday.


On Sunday, the NBA suspended Artest for the rest of the season. The league suspended Indiana's Stephen Jackson for 30 games and teammate Jermaine O'Neal for 25. Detroit's Ben Wallace -- whose shove of Artest after a foul led to the five-minute fracas -- drew a six-game ban, while Pacers guard Anthony Johnson got five games.

Four players -- Indiana's Reggie Miller, and Detroit's Chauncey Billups, Elden Campbell and Derrick Coleman -- were suspended one game apiece for leaving the bench during the initial incident.