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Innocent Plea For Mason

Charlotte Hornets forward Anthony Mason pleaded innocent Wednesday to charges of inciting a riot, assaulting a police officer and public drunkenness.

His lawyer, Craig Mitchell, entered the plea in New Orleans city court on behalf of Mason, who was released from jail Tuesday. A court date has been set for Nov. 2.

Mason, 33, was arrested Monday night in the French Quarter.

Two officers noticed two groups of men arguing over women on Bourbon Street and when the officers tried to break up the groups, the 6-foot-8, 270-pound Mason hit one of the officers and began rallying the crowd, police spokesman Joseph Narcisse said.

The officer who had been hit tried to subdue Mason with pepper spray, but with little effect, Narcisse said. Other officers arrived and some in the crowd threw bottles and shouted racial slurs at police.

Mason fled and the crowd followed him, while police went to the 8th District station. Mason later was arrested and taken to a hospital for treatment.

No officers were seriously hurt in the melee, Narcisse said.

"It is indeed unfortunate that such a minor incident has garnered such attention," Mitchell said.

Don Cronson, Mason's agent, says that Mason did not hit a police officer and that the charges are unwarranted.

Mason was arrested on two counts of misdemeanor assault in February after a scuffle outside a bar in New York. The charges later were dropped when prosecutors said they did not have enough evidence to convict him.

If convicted, Mason could be sentenced to up to $500 and six months in jail on each charge, city police said.

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