Charges dropped against fan at Palace brawl

Updated: February 17, 2006, 10:48 PM ET
Associated Press

ROCHESTER HILLS, Mich. -- Prosecutors have dismissed criminal charges against one of the fans involved in a brawl that broke out among Indiana Pacers players and Detroit Pistons fans at The Palace of Auburn Hills last year.

William Paulson, 27, of Grand Blanc, had been charged with misdemeanor assault and battery, but Oakland County Assistant Prosecutor Paul Walton said Friday that videotape from the Nov. 19, 2004, incident and statements from witnesses showed that Paulson was merely defending a friend against Pacers player Ron Artest.

The brawl started after Detroit Pistons center Ben Wallace shoved Artest following a hard foul. After they were separated, Artest was doused with a beverage, rushed into the stands and began beating a man he thought had thrown the drink. Some of his teammates joined him in the stands and also clashed with fans on the court.

Artest and four other Indiana players, Anthony Johnson, David Harrison, Jermaine O'Neal and Stephen Jackson, were among those charged in the case. They each pleaded no contest to misdemeanor assault and battery and were sentenced to probation and community service. All except Harrison also were suspended by the NBA.

Several fans also were charged, and most have been sentenced to probation.

The only case still pending is that of John Green, 41, of Oakland County's West Bloomfield Township, Walton told The Oakland Press of Pontiac. Green, who is accused of lobbing the cup that ignited the fracas, is scheduled to stand trial next month on two counts of misdemeanor assault and battery.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press