|October 12th, 2006|
Pacers' Jackson charged in strip club fight info
The Indiana Pacers' Stephen Jackson may not have caused the fight, but police say he admits jumping into it, firing his gun and kicking a man who was being pummeled on the ground.
That's why he was charged Wednesday with a felony count of criminal recklessness and misdemeanor counts of battery and disorderly conduct.
Jackson is expected to surrender today during a hearing in Marion Superior Court.
The charges could trigger even more woes for Jackson because he is still on probation from a Michigan criminal case stemming from an attack on fans during a game against the Detroit Pistons.
Initially portrayed as the victim, Jackson was shocked Wednesday to learn he had been charged, said Pacers executive Larry Bird.
"This is a big blow for Stephen. He didn't expect this,'' Bird said. "He's taking it very hard."
Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi said Jackson had to be charged.
"I am a Pacers fan, and it brings me no joy to file charges," Brizzi said. "However, what is most important is that everyone is treated equally under the law."
According to court documents, four Pacers -- Jackson, Jamaal Tinsley, Marquis Daniels and Jimmie "Snap" Hunter -- and several of their friends were leaving Club Rio, 5054 W. 38th St., when they exchanged words with a man.
That man, Quentin "Fingers" Willford, 24, was identified in court documents as the person who was kicked by Jackson.
Brizzi also charged two other men in connection with the fight.
Raymel Mattox, 29, the man Brizzi said instigated the fight, was charged Wednesday with disorderly conduct, battery and possession of marijuana. He is identified as Tinsley's friend.
Also arrested was Deon "Dino" Willford, 23, charged with battery, failure to stop after an accident and operating a vehicle without a license. Police said he hit Jackson with a car in the strip club parking lot as Jackson kicked his cousin.
The Willfords told police Jackson and Mattox were the aggressors. Neither man could be reached for comment.
The Pacers say they were being harassed by the Willfords inside the club and tried to ignore them. Jackson told police the Willfords may have felt "disrespected" and also may have been upset because the dancers were paying more attention to the basketball players.
Both groups of men went outdoors and words were exchanged. During the argument, Quentin Willford yelled, "Dump" -- a slang term for shoot a gun, according to the police report.
Mattox, Brizzi said, attacked Quentin Willford -- who has two short arms and deformed hands.
"After the fight started, (Jackson) went to his car, retrieved his handgun and put it on his hip," Brizzi said. "He walked over to where a handicapped person was on the ground getting stomped and beaten, kicked that person, then drew his gun and fired one to three shots into the air."
Deon Willford then allegedly drove a car into Jackson, prosecutors say. Jackson rolled over the top of the vehicle and fired several more shots.
Jackson initially said Quentin Willford struck him in the mouth, but later told police that he never got punched and that he suffered the injuries to his face and leg when he was hit by the car.
Jackson admits he fired his 9 mm handgun, police said, but said he did so in self-defense, the report stated. His attorney, James Voyles, declined comment.
Indiana Department of Correction records show that Quentin Willford served a six-year prison sentence for burglary, escape and dealing cocaine. He was released in August, records show.
Records also show Deon Willford has had previous arrests.
Police seized handguns from Jackson, Tinsley and Daniels. All three have valid permits.
Jackson, lawyers say, will have to go back to Michigan for a hearing. In the 2004 incident, Jackson, Jermaine O'Neal and Ron Artest fought with fans during an NBA game against the Detroit Pistons.
"The judge can give whatever she thinks is appropriate," Oakland County (Mich.) assistant prosecutor John Pietrofesa said. "It could be just reinstating probation. It could be some period of jail and probation or just straight jail time."
In a statement Wednesday, the team said it regrets the incident and hopes for a swift resolution.
"The NBA office has been informed and we will be in contact with league offices as the process continues," the team said. "The Pacers are strong advocates of anti-violence campaigns as they have been throughout the franchise's history."