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Judge dismisses case on second day

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Charges against Darrell Armstrong were
dismissed Tuesday by a judge who ruled it couldn't be proved beyond
a reasonable doubt that the Hornets guard intentionally struck an
officer.

The dismissal came on the trial's second day. Armstrong could have
faced a sentence ranging from probation to six years in prison if
convicted of felony battery on an officer and misdemeanor resisting
arrest without violence.

"I just felt like I wasn't in the wrong," Armstrong said.

Armstrong's attorney had argued the NBA player accidentally hit
Officer Teresa Joyce, swinging his arm in reaction to her touching
him as she tried to escort him off the street outside an Orlando
nightclub on July 7.

Circuit Judge Bob Wattles said Joyce did nothing wrong by
placing her hand on Armstrong's back or shoulder. However, the
judge said it was questionable whether Armstrong knew it was an
officer who was pushing him toward the sidewalk.

"The judge is the expert in determining the law and I respect
his decision," Joyce said.

Defense attorney Zachary Stoumbos suggested Joyce, who sprained
a finger during the encounter, was pursuing the criminal case to
bolster a civil lawsuit. Joyce said Tuesday she hadn't decided
whether to sue.

The case's dismissal came after friends of Armstrong who
witnessed the encounter testified Tuesday that Joyce was
"aggressive" in trying to get Armstrong off the street. A day
earlier, Joyce had testified that Armstrong reacted "very
violently" after she approached him.

"For someone to come up from behind him, it's impossible to
know who it was," Orlando Magic forward Drew Gooden testified.
"It was a natural reaction for anybody."

Armstrong, who played nine seasons with the Orlando Magic before
signing with New Orleans during the offseason, said the arrest and
trial had affected his playing. He did sit-ups in the hallway
during breaks in the trial.

The Magic and the Hornets played each other later Tuesday in Orlando. Armstrong said he wouldn't give Gooden
any breaks.

"I was happy he testified for me," Armstrong said. "But I'm
not going to give him free lay-ups tonight."

The Hornets won 100-91.