Jackson: I was merely defending my teammates

Updated: October 16, 2006, 1:48 AM ET
Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS -- Indiana Pacers guard Stephen Jackson says he was just trying to protect three teammates when he fired a handgun and was hit by a car during a fight outside an Indianapolis strip club.

 Stephen Jackson

The 28-year-old Jackson faces a pretrial hearing on a felony charge of criminal recklessness and misdemeanor counts of battery and disorderly conduct Nov. 1, the same day the Pacers open the season in Charlotte, N.C.

His trial is scheduled to begin Jan. 8 in Marion Superior Court. The criminal recklessness charge carries a prison term of six months to three years.

"I'm in a situation now where people thought I acted recklessly, when I know I didn't," Jackson said Saturday night after the Pacers' 97-84 loss to the Utah Jazz.

"Over due time the courts will know that," he said. "We'll be able to see I wasn't trying to hurt anybody. I had no intentions of hurting anybody. I was just making sure me and my teammates were safe. I'm the one who got hit by the car."

Police said Jackson fired a gun in the air at least five times during an Oct. 6 fight outside Club Rio. Jackson originally told police that he fired the gun in self-defense, but Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi said Jackson retrieved his gun from his car and fired it before he was struck and injured by another car.

Jackson, who showed up at Conseco Fieldhouse on Saturday sporting a shaven head instead of his familiar braids, was booed by some fans during the game. He came off the bench and finished with six points in 23 minutes.

Jackson was serving probation after pleading no contest to misdemeanor assault and battery charges in September 2005 in his role in a 2004 brawl between Pacers players and Detroit Pistons fans at The Palace of Auburn Hills, Mich. He is scheduled to appear at a probation violation hearing at a Rochester Hills district court on Nov. 13 and could face up to three months in jail.

The court schedule and shadow of jail time could complicate Indiana's season. But Pacers coach Rick Carlisle seemed relatively unruffled.

"We'll cross those bridges when we come to them," Carlisle said. "I've heard some dates thrown around, but I don't know that there's anything set in stone. I know that a lot of times schedules can be adjusted based on people's work, but I'm not going to make any presumptions on that. ... That's light years away."

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press