Prosecutor charges Pacers' Jackson for strip club fight

Wednesday, October 11th 2006, 2:04 pm
By: News On 6

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) _ Indiana Pacers guard Stephen Jackson was charged with criminal recklessness Wednesday following last week's confrontation outside a strip club.

Jackson was charged with the felony and two misdemeanor counts by the Marion County prosecutor five days after he fought with another group of men at the club. Three of his teammates were also at the club but were not charged.

Jackson was hit by a car, and police say he fired a gun in the air at least five times. He originally told police he was punched but later said he was not, prosecutors said.

On Tuesday, Jackson apologized for the fight, saying he was ``happy to be alive.'' His comments came hours after police arrested another man on several charges in connection with the fight.

Jackson was expected to turn himself in Wednesday or Thursday, prosecutors said. The felony count carries a prison term of six months to three years.

The Pacers did not immediately return a phone call from The Associated Press.

Police on Tuesday charged Deon Willford, 23, in the fight. He faces felony counts of criminal recklessness and leaving the scene of a personal injury accident, and a misdemeanor count of driving without a license.

Willford drove a car that hit Jackson, sending him tumbling over the hood, police Sgt. Matthew Mount said. Police said Jackson fired a gun in the air during the fight about 3 a.m.

``Firing the shots in the air at that point is criminal recklessness,'' Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi said. ``Those bullets, once they come up, have to come down, and they come down at least 90 miles per hour, and they do absolutely have the ability to take someone's life.''

Brizzi said between 30 and 35 people were in the parking lot.

Jackson returned to training camp Tuesday with stitches in his lip and scrapes and bruises. Prosecutors say the injuries were all caused by the car hitting him.

Besides Jackson, teammates Jamaal Tinsley, Marquis Daniels and Jimmie Hunter were at the club, police said. Officers said they found a small amount of marijuana in the passenger-side door of point guard Tinsley's car. But no arrests were made at the time because there were three others in Tinsley's car and police could not determine who had the marijuana, authorities said.

None of the other players were charged but were listed as witnesses for the prosecution.

Tinsley and Hunter told investigators they heard gunshots but did not see who was shooting, according to an Indianapolis police report.

Daniels told police he saw Jackson struck by a car but was not sure if he heard any gunshots.

Jackson returned to the Pacers' training camp on Tuesday with stitches in his lip and other scrapes and bruises. The Pacers were to open the preseason Wednesday night against the New Jersey Nets, but Jackson was not expected to play.

In charging information, prosecutors said Jackson kicked a man who police said has a deformed arm. Jackson told police that the man, Quentin Willford, started the brawl.

Another man, Raymel Mattox, was charged with misdemeanor counts of battery, disorderly conduct and marijuana possession. Police say he also hit Quentin Willford.