Tyson faces jail if scuffle deemed probation violation
LOS ANGELES — Former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson, who was arrested in a scuffle with a photographer, could be sent to jail if he’s found to have violated probation from a 2007 drug case, officials said Thursday.
The 43-year-old former heavyweight champion and a photographer, Tony Echeverria, made citizens’ arrests of each other following a confrontation at about 4:30 p.m. Wednesday at Los Angeles International Airport.
Each man claimed the other struck him, police said.
Airport police were called, and the men were taken away for booking on suspicion of misdemeanor battery. They were fingerprinted and photographed, then released without bail, Sgt. Jim Holcomb said.
The city attorney will decide whether to file criminal charges.
Tyson is on probation after pleading guilty in Arizona to cocaine possession and driving under the influence. He spent 24 hours in jail there.
Zach Dal Pra, deputy chief of the Maricopa County Adult Probation Department, said his office is still trying to get in touch with Los Angeles authorities to figure out exactly what transpired during the airport incident.
“Did Mr. Tyson’s actions constitute a violation of probation here? If so, we’ll start court proceedings,” he said. “Right now, we’re still in that investigative mode.”
Tyson could face jail time if a court finds that he violated his probation, Dal Pra said.
Tyson had stopped at LAX while traveling from Europe to Las Vegas when several photographers began snapping pictures of him near a ticket counter, Holcomb said.
Echeverria, 50, who described himself as a freelance photographer, told police that Tyson struck him once. The photographer fell to the ground and was treated for a cut to his forehead at a hospital.
Tyson’s spokeswoman, Tammy Brook, said the boxer was traveling with his wife and 10-month-old child when he was attacked by an overly aggressive paparazzo. She said Echeverria repeatedly refused to comply with orders from airport personnel to leave the family alone and at one point collided with the baby’s stroller.
“Mike acted in self defense as a father protecting his child,” Brook said.
Echeverria’s camera was booked as evidence, and police were checking if there was any surveillance video of the incident.
Tyson was cooperative as he waited in a holding cell at the airport police station, Holcomb said. Echeverria was treated at a hospital while Tyson continued his trip, Holcomb said.
Holcomb said both men were released without any restrictions and were free to go wherever they wanted.
Paparazzi often camp out at Los Angeles’ largest airport to get shots of celebrities in transit.
Tyson became the youngest heavyweight champion ever in 1986 when he won his title as a 20-year-old. But his life since then has been marred by accusations of domestic violence, rape and cocaine use.
Tyson was convicted of rape in Indiana in 1992 and served three years in prison. He was disqualified from a 1997 heavyweight title fight when he bit off part of Evander Holyfield’s right ear, and in 1999 he pleaded no contest to misdemeanor assault charges in Maryland.
In 2003, Tyson filed for Chapter 11 protection in U.S. Bankruptcy Court.
AP writer Terry Tang in Phoenix contributed to this report.