The justice system, criminal and civil, will be heavily involved in the aftermath of last Friday’s melee at a Detroit Pistons home game. The Detroit Free Press reports that the fan who threw a plastic cup at Indiana Pacers player Ron Artest that sparked the fight was identified Monday as a 39-year-old man with a criminal past. Oakland County Prosecutor David Gorcyca said John Green, a self-employed building contractor, had been identified from videotape as the fan whose action started one of the worst brawls in professional sports history. Green denied any wrongdoing.
As of yesterday, nine people had filed assault complaints with police. Two men plan to sue the Indiana Pacers and possibly the Palace of Auburn Hills, which hosted the game. Green has several criminal convictions, including felony assault with intent to do great bodily harm and three drunken driving convictions. He was not supposed to drink alcohol as a condition of his probation. Green’s attorney said his client was trying to defend the people around him. He said it was a “cheap shot” to bring up Green’s prior convictions and he is disturbed that prosecutors are outing his client before charging him. Todd Weglarz, who will file a civil suit on behalf of injured fans, said, “This case is nothing more than a sheer, brutal assault and battery committed on fans.”