Brawler admits donnybrook role
A police officer was hit during a melee outside a nightspot
Mixed martial arts fighter B.J. Penn has admitted to reckless conduct in a fracas in which a police officer trying to quell the disturbance was struck in the cheek.
Penn, 28, of Hilo, pleaded no contest yesterday under a plea agreement to a reduced charge of third-degree assault, a misdemeanor. He was initially charged with first-degree assault against a police officer, a Class C felony.
"There's never been a thought that he intentionally struck anyone, including this policeman," said defense attorney Michael Green. "We never agreed that he punched a policeman."
Police officer Richardson Pouoa was struck in the face May 8, 2005, as he tried to break up a fight outside the Zanzabar nightclub, where he was working special duty. The club was hosting a party for participants of the Rumble on the Rock 7 mixed martial arts event the night before at Blaisdell Center.
A crowd of men that included Penn were fighting outside the club and refused to leave, so Pouoa sprayed them with pepper spray, according to police.
Penn faces a maximum of one year in jail and a $2,000 fine when sentenced Dec. 11. The state is expected to ask for the full year.