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Tyson might be innocent

June 27, 2003 11:59 IST
Samuel Velez, one of two men accused of menacing boxer Mike Tyson in a Brooklyn hotel brawl, was released from jail on Thursday proclaiming his innocence, but investigators say video evidence shows the temperamental pugilist was trying to avoid trouble, not start it.

Former world heavyweight champion Tyson, 36, the self-described "baddest" man on the planet, has been at the center of several notorious incidents in and out of the ring since he first won the title in 1986.

In the ring, Tyson bit off part of Evander Holyfield's ear, out of it he was convicted and jailed for rape and has been involved in several bust-ups.

But this time, Iron Mike might be innocent.

Investigators say a hotel security videotape shows two men started the fight on Saturday morning by harassing Tyson, threatening him with a metal object taken from the lobby and suggesting they had a gun.

Velez, 31, of Reading, Pennsylvania, and Nestor Alvarez Ramos, 24, of Philadelphia allegedly harassed Tyson outside the Marriott Hotel in Brooklyn. Alvarez had been freed on $2,000 bail but Velez was held in lieu of bail over a past criminal matter.


two men, charged with misdemeanor counts of menacing and harassment, appeared at a pretrial hearing in Brooklyn before Judge George Lopez, who released Velez without bail.

Tyson is due to appear before the judge on July 24.

Although Tyson threw the first punch and then grasped the metal object, he was released after being issued only with a "desk appearance ticket" on assault charges while the other two men were asked to post bail.

"All the officers at the scene believed that Tyson was victimized," said one law enforcement official, who asked not to be identified. "The desk appearance ticket reflects that. If they thought it was warranted, he could have been arrested and charged with a felony."

Tyson tried repeatedly to shake off the men and a woman who had approached him at the hotel before becoming angry and knocking one man out, tossing the woman off his back and injuring the second man, prosecutors said.

In a jailhouse interview published in the Daily News on Thursday, Velez said he had approached Tyson for his autograph "out of love, out of respect" and accused the boxer of punching him for no reason. "He's got no guts," Velez was quoted as saying. "I lost all respect for the man."

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