INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana Pacers guard Stephen Jackson was led away in handcuffs Thursday after a judge entered a not guilty plea on his behalf on a felony charge of criminal recklessness for a fight outside a strip club.
Jackson was booked into jail and released after posting $10,000 bond, a spokesman with the prosecutor's office said.
Jackson, whose charges include misdemeanor counts of battery and disorderly conduct, is scheduled for a pretrial hearing Nov. 1, with his trial to start Jan. 8.
Indiana judges routinely enter not guilty pleas during initial hearings. If Jackson does not change it within 20 days, it will become his formal plea. Jackson, dressed in a dark suit, was questioned by Marion Superior Court Judge Patricia Gifford and told not to contact witnesses or others involved in the case.
When asked about deputies escorting Jackson in handcuffs, prosecutor Carl Brizzi said he was "treated like any defendant."
Authorities say Jackson, already on probation for his role in the brawl with Detroit Pistons fans two years ago, shot a gun in the air at least five times outside Club Rio on Oct. 6. He originally told police he fired in self-defense during the fight in which he was hit by a car.
But Brizzi, who filed charges Wednesday, said Jackson got his gun from his car and fired it before he was hit. Jackson also originally said he was punched in the face, but later told police his injuries were from being hit by the car, Brizzi said.
Jackson's attorney James Voyles said his client acted in self-defense.
"A group of thugs attacked a group of young men who were there, some of which were the Indiana Pacers," he said after the hearing. "There was a fight. There were threatening things that went on in that event, and during the course of that, self-defense was used."
The criminal recklessness charge carries a prison term of six months to three years.
"Firing the shots in the air at that point is criminal recklessness," said Brizzi, adding it is too early to discuss a plea bargain. "Those bullets, once they come up, have to come down, and they come down at least 90 mph, and they do absolutely have the ability to take someone's life."
Jackson might also face up to three months in jail in Michigan if a judge there determines he violated probation.Oakland County prosecutor David Gorcyca said after Jackson was charged in Indiana, a violation of probation was filed against him, but the court has not yet scheduled a hearing.
Teammates Jamaal Tinsley, Marquis Daniels and Jimmie Hunter were with Jackson at the club, but were not charged. All three played in Wednesday night's 103-89 preseason victory over the New Jersey Nets, but Jackson was not with the team at Conseco Fieldhouse.
The driver of the car, Deon Willford, 23, faces felony counts of criminal recklessness and leaving the scene of a personal injury accident, and a misdemeanor count of driving without a license. The judge Thursday also entered a not guilty plea on Willford's behalf.
Officers said they found a small amount of marijuana in the passenger-side door of 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.
Another man, who was at the club with the players, Raymel Mattox, was charged with misdemeanor counts of battery, disorderly conduct and marijuana possession. Prosecutors said Mattox started the fight and had the drug. Mattox lives in New York and was planning to come to Indiana for a court hearing, said Roger Rayl, a spokesman for the Marion County prosecutor's office.
On Wednesday, prosecutors said Jackson kicked a man who police said has a deformed arm. Jackson told police that the man, Quentin Willford, started the brawl.