Mike Tyson's lawyer denies a $450,000 demand from Melvin Townsend, who says Tyson assaulted him on a plane. A dispute ensues, termed a "shakedown" by Tyson's agent.
A representative for Mike Tyson has dismissed a demand for $450,000 from the former professional boxer to avoid a lawsuit.
Melvin Townsend has made the demand, claiming that in April 2022, Tyson "viciously assaulted" him aboard a plane.
The incident was captured on camera, and the video was initially released by TMZ. It shows the former athlete seemingly bending over his seat to hit a man's head while traveling to Florida on a Jet Blue flight.
Tyson's lawyers acknowledged that there had been an altercation in a statement made public following the broadcast of the video, alleging that the passenger had been "harassing" him while on the plane.
Police said in a statement that was obtained by the AP that they had taken into custody "two subjects that were believed to be involved in the incident."
Later, both subjects were released while additional investigation was conducted.
After examining the video and the police reports, San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe declared in May of that year that Tyson would not face any charges.
Wagstaffe said in a statement: “Our decision is that we will not file any charges against Mr. Tyson based on the circumstances surrounding the confrontation.”
“These include the conduct of the victim leading up to the incident, the interaction between Mr. Tyson and the victim, as well as the requests of both the victim and Mr. Tyson that no charges be filed in this case. We now deem this case closed."
However, Townsend has now demanded $450,000 to pay for any medical and legal expenses related to the injuries he sustained during the encounter.
'I am still suffering with the effects of the assault to this day,' he adds.
Tyson's agent denied the allegation, calling it a "shakedown."
According to Alex Spiro, Tyson's lawyer: "I have received a shakedown letter related to some instigator's harassment of Mike a year ago and the aftermath.”
"There will be no shakedown payment."
In addition, Tyson has stated that before the incident, Townsend had thrown a water bottle at him.
A prior episode of his podcast, Hotboxin', featured Tyson's statement that the man had been "f**king with me."
Townsend's attorneys, however, contend that Tyson has never claimed that he was defending himself and has instead acknowledged the supposed attack on television.
Jake Jondle, Townsend's attorney, stated in a statement to TMZ: "Not only is the evidence clear that Mr. Tyson committed the intentional torts of assault and battery, but he also acted recklessly and negligently.”
"Additionally, Mr. Tyson admitted on national television to attacking Mr. Townsend and never once claimed a legal justification for his actions, such as self-defense. He admitted he should not have attacked Mr. Townsend."
He added: "Being irritated by a fan is not a legal defense to any of Mr. Townsend's claims."
Additionally, the lawyer claimed that the $450,000 demand was meant to "engage in good-faith settlement discussions to attempt to resolve this claim prior to filing a lawsuit."
According to a pre-litigation letter from Jondle, Tyson "chose physical violence" when he could have handled the situation and resolved it in a different way.
Townsend was just "excited to see [Tyson] on the flight, began discussing the marijuana industry and psychedelic mushrooms with him, and Mr. Tyson became annoyed," Jondle continued.
Townsend has claimed that he 'suffered from a severe headache and neck pain' after the incident.
Additionally, he claims that because he was without health insurance at the time, he was forced to pay a large portion of his medical bills.
His letter adds: "If we are unable to reach an agreement, we will continue to prepare Mr. Townsend's case for the filing of a lawsuit."