Five Indiana Pacers players and five Detroit Pistons fans were expected to be charged with assault Wednesday in a brawl that broke out on the basketball court and spilled into the stands at The Palace of Auburn Hills last month, according to news reports.
All charges are expected to be for misdemeanor assault and battery - except for one count of felony assault against a fan accused of throwing a chair, according to reports citing unidentified sources in Wednesday editions of the Detroit Free Press and The Detroit News and a Tuesday report on WDIV-TV.
"I'm not going to confirm anything," Oakland County Prosecutor David Gorcyca told The Associated Press on Tuesday night. He said he would not comment until 2 p.m. Wednesday, when he had scheduled a news conference to announce the charges.
The reports said Pacers player Jermaine O'Neal is expected to face two counts of misdemeanor assault and battery, while teammates Ron Artest, David Harrison, Stephen Jackson and Anthony Johnson were expected to face one count each.
Five fans were expected to face misdemeanor assault and battery charges, the reports said.
One fan could face a second count of assault and battery for throwing a plastic cup that sparked the Nov. 19 brawl; another was also expected to face a felony assault charge on accusations that he threw a chair into the crowd, the reports said.
Assault and battery carries a maximum penalty of 93 days in jail and a fine of up to $500. Felonious assault carries up to four years' imprisonment.
The fight among spectators and players broke out near the end of the game after an on-court dispute over a foul. A fan tossed a drink at Artest, who then charged into the stands and began beating a man he thought had done it.
Gorcyca said Monday that his decision on charges would be based on videotapes of the brawl and about 1,000 pages of reports.
Two days after the brawl, NBA Commissioner David Stern issued lengthy suspensions against several players. He suspended Artest for the season, Jackson for 30 games and O'Neal for 25. Ben Wallace got six games and Johnson got five. Four players were suspended for a game apiece: Indiana's Reggie Miller and Detroit's Chauncey Billups, Elden Campbell and Derrick Coleman.