Police: Pacers named in night club scuffle
Indianapolis - Once again, some Indiana Pacers are in trouble for their alleged actions off the court. Metro police are investigating Jamaal Tinsley and Marquis Daniels.
Witnesses tell investigators Tinsley threatened the life of a bar manager. They're now looking into allegations that he and Daniels together beat up the manager.
It was closing time Tuesday morning at Club Tremors, a small bar inside the Eight Seconds Saloon. Just after 2:00 am, the manager was struggling with a man caught stealing furs from the coat check when they bumped into a handful of Pacers: Keith McLeod, Marquis Daniels and Jamaal Tinsley.
"The manager told the Pacers players to stay out of it because they weren't involved with it. The Pacers felt they were involved with it. That's when the threat was made," said Lt. Doug Scheffel, IMPD.
According to the police report, that threat came from the 6'3" Tinsley. "The threat that 'I will kill you,' then it turned into a punch being thrown, punching the manager in the face," said Lt. Scheffel.
Police call it a typical bar fight. The police report says Tinsley's first punch knocked the manager to his knees. That's when Daniels and McLeod's cousin started throwing punches. Police say the manager lost an ear lobe and it looked like he had a broken jaw.
Tinsley and Daniels left before six off-duty police officers who were providing security in the parking lot were called inside. They say McLeod stayed out of the fight, but his cousin, Jeremy King, lost a tooth in the fray.
The man suspected of trying to steal fur coats escaped. Police didn't arrest anyone involved with the fight.
Another bar fight investigation involving Pacers is the last thing the team needed. Pacers management has worked to rectify its image following a night club shooting involving former Pacer Stephen Jackson in October. Tinsley and Daniels were involved in that incident as well.
The team practiced Wednesday to prepare for the evening game at Conseco Fieldhouse. The ball club let news cameras in, but only after the players who are under investigation left practice.
Before abruptly ending the interview, Pacers Coach Rick Carlisle told reporters he talked to his players but is still learning more about the bar fight. "We are not talking about it until we know all the facts until the investigation is done. We are in the business of getting ready to play a basketball game," said Carlisle. "We don't have any more comment."
Coach Carlisle gave me no indication if the investigation would impact who plays in Wednesday night's game.
No charges have been filed and no players were arrested. Detectives are working the case.
The players insist they've done nothing wrong, and issued statements Wednesday:
"I had nothing to do with this. I'm extremely upset that my name has been associated with this," said Jamaal Tinsley.
"I am emphatic, 100 percent, that I had nothing to do with this. We were attending a celebration party for the Colts with some of the Colts players. For my name to be included is very disappointing. I am totally innocent. Hopefully, the truth will come out," said Marquis Daniels.
"We were all trying to get out of there. I did not see Jamaal or Marquis hit anybody. There was a scuffle going on and when we saw what was happening, we were getting out. I don't know where this other stuff came from," said Keith McLeod.
Indiana Pacers CEO and President Donnie Walsh issued the following statement: "We are aware of reports of an incident Monday night after the Golden State game allegedly involving members of the Indiana Pacers. At this time, the incident is under police investigation and until the investigation is completed, we have no further comment."
Club Rio incident
Meanwhile, former Pacers guard Stephen Jackson found out Wednesday that his trial on the Club Rio incident will take place on April 12th.
Prosecutors say Jackson fired a gun into the air outside the west side strip club last October. The Pacers eventually traded Jackson to Golden State. Jackson faces multiple charges including criminal recklessness, battery and disorderly conduct.
If he's found guilty, Jackson faces up to four years in prison. The man accused of running over Jackson in a car, Deon Wilford, goes on trial February 12th. Wilford faces up to eight years in prison.
The recent off-the-court problems may be affecting attendance at Pacers games. Last season, home crowds averaged about 16,000 fans per game in the first three months of the season.
In November 2006, the Pacers game attendance averaged 17,617 with four games sold out. In December, average game attendance dropped to less than 16,000. Only one game in December sold out.
In January, the average game attendance dropped to just over 14,000 fans at each game.
Reports compiled from Steve Jefferson and Rich Van Wyk.