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Two fans accuse Artest, others of assault, battery

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- Two fans sued the Indiana Pacers and players Ron
Artest, Stephen Jackson and Jermaine O'Neal on Tuesday, contending
they were injured in the brawl at the end of the Pistons-Pacers
game.

Lawyers for John Ackerman and William Paulson filed suits in
Oakland County Circuit Court in Pontiac, seeking damages in excess of $25,000 each.

Ackerman, a 67-year-old retired auto worker, says he was hit by
O'Neal and then by a chair that a fan hurled into the crowd. His
suit also names Palace Sports & Entertainment Inc., which operates
the Pistons' arena.

"He was knocked unconscious by the chair," said Todd Weglarz,
who along with lawyer Geoffrey Fieger, represents the men. "The
next thing he recalls is being helped into a wheelchair."

Police released a copy of a videotape Tuesday showing a man who
investigators believe threw the chair, and they asked the public to
help identify him.

Fieger, a former Democratic gubernatorial candidate, is known
for representing high-profile clients such as assisted-suicide
advocate Jack Kevorkian.

Paulson, 26, said he was punched by Jackson and assaulted by
Artest. Weglarz said Paulson's family has had Pistons season
tickets for about 25 years.

Paulson, who works in real estate, and Ackerman have been
diagnosed with concussions from the brawl, Weglarz said.

The NBA suspended Artest for the season, Jackson for 30 games
and O'Neal for 25.

Pistons spokesman Matt Dobek said the team and The Palace were
aware of the lawsuits but declined comment. The Pacers did not
immediately respond to a message seeking comment.

Oakland County prosecutor David Gorcyca has said the only
possible felony charge in the brawl could be against the
chair-thrower. He said other charges most likely would be for
misdemeanor assault and battery.

Auburn Hills police Lt. James Manning said the investigation
could take two to three weeks. Investigators are reviewing
videotapes and interviewing witnesses. Artest and other Pacers had
not been interviewed, Manning said.

Another fan, John Green, has been identified as the one who
threw a cup that hit Artest before the Indiana forward charged into
the stands. Gorcyca recognized Green -- a former neighbor -- after
repeatedly watching footage of the brawl.

Once Artest was in the stands, Green grabbed him from behind and
sucker-punched him, the prosecutor said.

Green, a 39-year-old contractor, told reporters Monday that it
may have looked like he threw the cup, but he didn't.

"I wish the whole thing didn't happen," he said. "It was
awful, it was ugly."

Green's attorney, Shawn Smith, said his client became involved
in the brawl only when he saw Artest hitting a smaller man. Green
also said Artest kicked him in the shin "a couple of times."

"We have no comment on who threw the cup, it's irrelevant,"
Smith said. He said fans shouldn't throw things, "but is it a
criminal offense? I don't think so."

During an appearance Tuesday on ABC's "Good Morning America,''
Green described himself as a respected businessman with a wife and
two children. He said he was not drinking Friday night and that
Artest was "being a thug.''

"I don't go around breaking the law," Green said. "If they
have found that I broke the law, I'll pay the price."

Green also appeared on CNN's "Larry King Live" with his attorney, Shawn Patrick Smith, on Tuesday night. Both avoided answering King's question about whether Green threw the cup while replays were being shown during the interview.

Gorcyca said Green was on probation for his third offense of
driving under the influence. Green's record also includes
convictions for carrying a concealed weapon and check fraud,
according to the Michigan Department of Corrections' database.

Pistons chief executive Tom Wilson said Green is a season-ticket
holder and will be banned from The Palace.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.