posted on Jul, 26 2003 @ 04:44 AM
ABCNews.com - July 24, 2003
Prosecutors who once considered dropping charges against former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson in connection with a hotel brawl in Brooklyn last
month have charged the boxer with assault, harassment, and disorderly conduct.
Tyson, dressed in a gray pinstriped jacket, white pants and white shoes, was greeted by a cheering crowd when he arrived at Kings County Criminal
Court to be arraigned on the charges. He is due back in court on Sept. 30.
Tyson pleaded not guilty, and refused to speak to reporters as he left the court.
He could face up to one year in prison if he is convicted on the most serious charge, third-degree assault.
Prosecutors have admitted that Tyson, 37, was approached and harassed by two men in the lobby of the Marriott Hotel in Brooklyn around 5 a.m. on June
21. One of the men is even quoted in a police report as telling Tyson, "You got fists, we got guns."
Despite the mitigating circumstances in the encounter, though, Tyson is being charged based on evidence from surveillance tapes from the hotel's
ABCNEWS has learned that the tapes clearly show Tyson being approached and harassed by two men and a woman. The tapes show Tyson responding with two
punches and then taking off his jacket and going back at them.
"The evidence against him is that he was originally provoked and in fact menaced by two individuals and his first action against them could very well
be considered justified under New York law," Kings County Assistant District Attorney John O'Mara told ABCNEWS. "However, he continued on well after
what would reasonably be allowed and could be considered self defense, and the charges are based on those further actions after the initial blows."
Tyson's lawyer Mel Sachs said the former heavyweight champion was the victim in the incident and was only defending himself.
"Mike Tyson was provoked and verbally and physically attacked," he said.
Tyson told police at the time of the incident that he was acting in self defense. He said that one of the men, Samuel Velez, 22, threatened him and
acted like he had a gun.
Velez and his companions, Nester Alvares-Ramos, 34, and Velez's wife, Thamara Ocasio, 27, all had to be hospitalized with cuts and bruises they
suffered in the fight. Velez and Alvares-Ramos were both charged with harassing and menacing in the incident.
ABCNews' Richard Esposito contributed to this report.