Man Pleads No Contest in Pacers Brawl
16 minutes ago
By SARAH KARUSH, Associated Press Writer
PONTIAC, Mich. - A fan charged with throwing a chair during one of the worst brawls in U.S. sports history pleaded no contest Tuesday to a felony assault count.
Bryant Jackson was the only one of the 13 players and fans charged with a felony for their alleged role in the Nov. 19 melee during an Indiana Pacers-Detroit Pistons game at the Palace of Auburn Hills.
Oakland County Circuit Court Judge Rae Lee Chabot indicated she would sentence Jackson to up to three months in jail, but he could get probation if he expresses remorse at the sentencing hearing May 3.
Events at the Palace were triggered by a "mob mentality," the judge said.
Assistant county prosecutor Paul Walton, however, said his office would request a sentence of one year in jail.
"These are adults," he said. "They should be able to control themselves. If they can't, they should be in jail."
Jackson and his attorney, Christopher McGrath, declined to comment after the hearing.
Jackson, 37, is accused of dislodging a chair and heaving it over his head, hitting several people. He also is accused of throwing a drink at the Pacers as they left the court area.
He pleaded no contest to one count of felony assault and one count of misdemeanor assault and battery. A no-contest plea is not an admission of guilt but is treated as such for sentencing purposes.
Three other fans were sentenced to probation earlier this month.
A motion hearing is scheduled for April 8 in the cases of the five Pacers charged in the brawl — Ron Artest, Jermaine O'Neal, Stephen Jackson, Anthony Johnson and David Harrison — and the other four fans.
The brawl was sparked when a Detroit player shoved Artest after a hard foul. The two were separated, and Artest cooled off before being doused by a cup of beer thrown from the crowd. Artest rushed into the stands and began beating a man he thought had thrown the beer.
As a result of the brawl, Artest was suspended for the rest of the season, Jackson received 30 games and O'Neal 25. O'Neal's suspension was later reduced to 15 games by an arbitrator and upheld in federal court. The NBA also announced new security rules.