The man seen in cellphone video first harassing Mike Tyson onboard a JetBlue flight on the night of 4/20 and then getting repeatedly punched by Tyson over the seat between them reportedly has a bunch of criminal charges and convictions in his past.
This year's 4/20 celebration in San Francisco will be remembered for being the first where legal weed was legally allowed to be sold on the premises. Nothing bad or chaotic went down at the festival grounds in Golden Gate Park. But a few hours later, as former heavyweight champion turned cannabis promoter Mike Tyson was trying to fly out of town to Miami, he was filmed on a JetBlue flight getting into an altercation with a man seated behind him. TMZ obtained video of the before, during, and after of the altercation, in which another passenger across the aisle films the man harassing Tyson over the seat and appearing very intoxicated. And other video shows the punching occurring over the seat.
The man allegedly threw a water bottle at Tyson before the assault took place.
The punching victim, Melvin George Townsend III, declined to cooperate with SFPD officers who arrived on the scene at SFO last Wednesday night, and so far has not press charges, as NBC News reported. Townsend was seen comically pouting and showing off his injuries after the incident occurred, and reportedly both he and Tyson were taken off the plane and questioned by the SFPD at the airport — we know that Tyson missed his flight, too, because he didn't make it for a noon engagement on Thursday at a cannabis event in Florida.
TMZ obtained a photo that Tyson happily took with a different fan shortly after he walked off the plane at SFO.
Townsend's lawyer, Matt Morgan, tells TMZ, "Our client is a big Mike Tyson fan. When Mike Tyson boarded the plane, he became overly excited. At first, their interaction was cordial."
Morgan goes on to say in a statement, "At a certain point, Mr. Tyson clearly became agitated by an overly excited fan and began to strike him in an excessive manner. This situation could have been avoided simply by contacting the flight attendant. Our client denies throwing a water bottle prior to being struck by Mr. Tyson."
Fox News reports that Townsend, 36, has a lengthy rap sheet in Florida that goes back to 2008. Townsend spent almost two years in jail starting in 2009, and then he was jailed again in 2019 for 15 months for apparently stealing someone's trailer and towing it away with his pickup truck in 2018. He's got convictions on his record for fraud, grand theft, burglary, possession of controlled substances, and trafficking in stolen property, and he's been out of jail since the summer of 2020.
As TMZ noted, even though Townsend didn't press criminal charges, the fact that he has a lawyer talking for him means there's probably some kind of lawsuit in the works, or perhaps the hope for a monetary settlement from Tyson.
Morgan said that Townsend was "still in shock and has not made a determination on what his next steps will be." Morgan continued, "He hired counsel due to his physical injuries, the overwhelming nature of this event and the associated media inquiries."
Top image: Left- Photo by Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images; Right- Photo via Florida Department of Corrections