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Charges dropped against fan at Palace brawl

ROCHESTER HILLS, Mich. -- Prosecutors have dismissed
criminal charges against one of the fans involved in a brawl that
broke out among Indiana Pacers players and Detroit Pistons fans at
The Palace of Auburn Hills last year.

William Paulson, 27, of Grand Blanc, had been charged with
misdemeanor assault and battery, but Oakland County Assistant
Prosecutor Paul Walton said Friday that videotape from the Nov. 19,
2004, incident and statements from witnesses showed that Paulson
was merely defending a friend against Pacers player Ron Artest.

The brawl started after Detroit Pistons center Ben Wallace
shoved Artest following a hard foul. After they were separated,
Artest was doused with a beverage, rushed into the stands and began
beating a man he thought had thrown the drink. Some of his
teammates joined him in the stands and also clashed with fans on
the court.

Artest and four other Indiana players, Anthony Johnson, David
Harrison, Jermaine O'Neal and Stephen Jackson, were among those
charged in the case. They each pleaded no contest to misdemeanor
assault and battery and were sentenced to probation and community
service. All except Harrison also were suspended by the NBA.

Several fans also were charged, and most have been sentenced to
probation.

The only case still pending is that of John Green, 41, of
Oakland County's West Bloomfield Township, Walton told The Oakland
Press of Pontiac. Green, who is accused of lobbing the cup that
ignited the fracas, is scheduled to stand trial next month on two
counts of misdemeanor assault and battery.