Utah Jazz fan’s lawsuit over provocative incident dismissed | News from the United States and the world
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) – A lawsuit against Utah Jazz by a fan who was banned for life from the team arena for what was called racial taunts directed at point guard Russell Westbrook has been dismissed by a judge, according to court documents filed Thursday.
Shane Keisel said there was nothing racial about his heckling during the 2019 game and that the high-profile incident cost him his job and exposed him to online threats. The Jazz, however, said the team investigated the episode that sparked a national conversation about race and fan behavior and upheld the decision to ban it from the arena.
The decision came just hours after Westbrook fell victim to unruly fan behavior again, this time in Philadelphia where someone sitting above the tunnel that leads from the ground threw popcorn at him as he left the game with an ankle injury on Wednesday night. The 76ers apologized on Thursday and announced that the anonymous subscription-holder fan would be banned from all arena events.
The NBA has said the rules surrounding fan behavior will be “vigorously enforced” in the future. In another incident on Wednesday night, video showed someone spat at Trae Young of the Atlanta Hawks as he prepared to face the basketball in the fourth quarter of New York’s victory over Atlanta at Madison Square Garden. . The Knicks apologized and banned this fan from the arena.
An unrelated verbal altercation occurred at the Jazz Arena Wednesday night, which resulted in the removal and indefinite ban of three jazz fans, the team said, declining to provide further details.
“Utah Jazz has zero tolerance for offensive or disruptive behavior,” the Jazz said in a statement. “We apologize to all who have been affected by this unfortunate incident and condemn the unacceptable behavior of the fans.”
In the 2019 incident, Westbrook was fined $ 25,000 by the NBA after a video was released showing he was directing vulgar comments about Keisel into the crowd. Then a point guard for the Oklahoma City Thunder who had had other in-game exchanges with fans, Westbrook was shown along the sideline using menacing language that also referred to Keisel’s girlfriend, who was at the game.
Westbrook said at the time that he was provoked by the fan who told him to ‘kneel down like before’.
Westbrook said he would never abuse a woman, but Keisel’s racial taunts have gone over the top, especially after disrespectful comments from other Utah fans. His position was supported by jazz star Donovan Mitchell, who said it was not the first time that a racially motivated event had taken place at a jazz match.
The Jazz banned Keisel the day after the game, saying there was no room for personal attacks or disrespect.
In the lawsuit, Keisel admitted heckling Westbrook, who now plays for the Washington Wizards, and mockingly telling him to “take care of his knees” because the point guard had them wrapped in towels while he was away. sitting on the bench. But he denies making the comment Westbrook said he made.
Scott Hoyt, Keisel’s attorney, said his client intended to appeal the trial court’s decision.
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