INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – Stephen Jackson’s apology wasn’t enough.

The Indiana Pacers’ guard was charged with a felony for criminal recklesness and misdemeanor counts of battery and disorderly conduct Wednesday by the Marion County prosecutor, five days after he fought with another group of men outside a strip club.

On Tuesday, Jackson apologized for the fight, saying he was “happy to be alive.” His comments came hours after police arrested another man on several charges related to the fight.

Pacers president Larry Bird said Jackson was upset by the charges.

“He knows it’s a major embarrassment for the franchise,” Bird said. “This is a big blow for Stephen. He didn’t expect this.”

Teammates Jamaal Tinsley, Marquis Daniels and Jimmie Hunter were also at the club, but were not charged.

Jackson was hit by a car, and police say he fired a gun in the air at least five times. He originally told police he was punched, but later said he was not, prosecutors said.

“Firing the shots in the air at that point is criminal recklessness,” Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi said. “Those bullets, once they come up, have to come down, and they come down at least 90 miles per hour, and they do absolutely have the ability to take someone’s life.”

Brizzi said between 30 and 35 people were in the parking lot.

Jackson was expected to turn himself in Wednesday or today, prosecutors said. He was scheduled to be in court Thursday morning to face the charges.

The felony count carries a prison term of six months to three years.

The charges were another setback for Jackson, who has struggled to shake off the effects of the 2004 brawl with Detroit Pistons fans at the Palace of Auburn Hills.

In September 2005, a judge in Michigan ordered Jackson to serve a year’s probation for his role in the brawl, but the court ordered him to serve an extra year of probation because he did not complete the terms of his sentence.

Brizzi said Jackson could be ordered to serve three months in jail if authorities there determine he has violated his probation.

NBA spokesman Tim Frank said the league was monitoring the situation and would do its own investigation.

Pacers CEO Donnie Walsh said the NBA typically lets players continue to play until such cases are resolved.

Police on Tuesday charged Deon Willford, 23, in the fight. He faces felony counts of criminal recklessness and leaving the scene of a personal injury accident, and a misdemeanor count of driving without a license.

Willford drove a car that hit Jackson, sending him tumbling over the hood, police Sgt. Matthew Mount said.

Jackson returned to training camp Tuesday with stitches in his lip and scrapes and bruises. Prosecutors say the injuries were all caused by the car hitting him.

Officers said they found a small amount of marijuana in the passenger-side door of point guard Tinsley’s car. But no arrests were made at the time because there were three others in Tinsley’s car and police could not determine who had the marijuana.

None of the other players were charged but were listed as witnesses for the prosecution.

Tinsley and Hunter told investigators they heard gunshots, but did not see who was shooting, according to an Indianapolis police report. Daniels told police he saw Jackson struck by a car, but was not sure if he heard any gunshots.

The Pacers were to open the preseason Wednesday night against the New Jersey Nets, but Jackson was not expected to play. Coach Rick Carlisle said he expected Jackson to practice Thursday and he could play Saturday when Indiana hosts Utah.

In charging information, prosecutors said Jackson kicked a man who police said has a deformed arm. Jackson told police that the man, Quentin Willford, started the brawl.

Another man, Raymel Mattox, was charged with misdemeanor counts of battery, disorderly conduct and marijuana possession. Prosecutors said Mattox started the fight by striking Willford.

AP-ES-10-11-06 2040EDT


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