Jackson Testifies In Strip Club Fight Trial

Monday, February 12th 2007, 11:42 am
By: News On 6

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) _ Former Indiana Pacers guard Stephen Jackson testified Monday that he fired shots in the air during a fight outside a strip club last year to try to break up the brawl.

Jackson and ex-teammate Jamaal Tinsley took the witness stand during a bench trial in Marion Superior Court for a man accused of hitting Jackson with a car during the Oct. 6 fight outside Club Rio.

Jackson, who now plays for the Golden State Warriors, testified that when he was walking from the club to his car, a man approached him shouting, ``Go ahead and dump, dump!''

``Where I'm from, `dump' means pull out your gun and shoot,'' he said.

He fired a couple of shots in the air to break up the brawl that ensued, he said.

``It was like an all-out brawl,'' he said. ``I started seeing more and more faces I didn't know.''

The man accused of hitting Jackson with his car, Deon Willford, 23, waived his right to a jury trial and will instead have Judge Patricia Gifford render a verdict.

One of his attorneys, Jeffrey Mendez, told Gifford that Willford and his cousin were afraid after the shots were fired and that Willford then hit Jackson with the car.

``Mr. Willford, in fear of his life, in fear of his cousin's life, does what the average reasonable person would have done,'' Mendez said.

Jackson has pleaded not guilty to a felony charge of criminal recklessness and misdemeanor counts of battery and disorderly conduct. His trial is set for April 12.

Both Jackson and Willford have rejected deals that would have required them to plead guilty to the most serious charges. Willford faces felony counts of criminal recklessness and leaving the scene of a personal injury accident and a misdemeanor count of driving without a license.

Jackson was booked into jail Oct. 12 and has been free since on $10,000 bond. The criminal recklessness charge carries a prison term of six months to three years.

Authorities say Jackson got the gun from his car and fired it in the air before Willford ran into him with a car. Tinsley, teammate Marquis Daniels and former Pacer Jimmie Hunter were with Jackson at the club but not charged.

Jackson's attorney, James Voyles, has characterized the incident as a fight and said Jackson acted in self-defense. Jackson had stitches in his lip and other scrapes and bruises after the incident.

The incident occurred as Jackson was on probation for his role in a brawl between Indiana Pacers players and Detroit Pistons fans in 2004. Jackson pleaded no contest to misdemeanor assault and battery charges in September 2005 for his role in the 2004 brawl.

A Michigan judge ruled that the Indiana charges constituted a violation of Jackson's probation. Jackson, who was traded to Golden State earlier this year, faces up to 30 days in jail on the probation violation.