More than a year after a violent incident on a JetBlue flight during which Mike Tyson was seen punching a man who was allegedly harassing him, the victim’s attorneys have approached the boxing legend looking for a payout.
In a letter addressed to celebrity lawyer Alex Spiro, who represents Tyson, attorneys for Melvin Townsend wrote they are demanding a settlement of $450,000, in exchange for which Townsend will decline to file a ‘future lawsuit.’
‘If we are unable to reach an agreement, we will continue to prepare Mr. Townsend’s case for the filing of a lawsuit,’ wrote Jake Jondle, who is representing Townsend.
Spiro responded to the letter saying just: ‘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 a video taken on April 20, 2022, Tyson was seen punching a man repeatedly on a Florida-bound airplane. The man was left with cuts on his forehead.
It was later revealed that Townsend had previously had a pleasant interaction with Tyson, of whom he is a fan, but continued pestering the boxer in a manner that got on the last of Tyson’s nerves.
Tyson also alleges that Townsend threw a water bottle at him, which Townsend denies. Neither has been criminally charged in connection to the incident.
Mike Tyson, on camera, was caught repeatedly punching Melvin Townsend after becoming irritated by him on a flight to Florida
Townsend is now hoping for a settlement of nearly half-a-million dollars from Tyson
In the letter, Jondle wrote: ‘There is no need for a lengthy summary of the events at issue – video of Mr. Tyson repeatedly punching Mr. Townsend is widely available on the Internet. In short, it is our position that Mr. Townsend was excited to see your client on the flight, began discussing the marijuana industry and psychedelic mushrooms with him, and Mr. Tyson became annoyed.
‘Mr. Tyson then reached over the seat, grabbed Mr. Townsend by the shirt collar, and proceeded to repeatedly punch him in the head.’
The letter included a list of medical complications and expenses Townsend faced in the aftermath of the altercation.
Jondle claims his client experienced pain in his head and neck as well as a loss of consciousness, concussion, contusion on the head. He also suffered nausea, headaches, depression, memory issues, sleep issues, mood disturbances, vertigo, and compromised vision in the wake of the violent incident.
The document lays out a number of medical costs that Townsend has been forced to stomach for treatment in the wake of the beatdown, which include visits with a neurologist, a psychologist and a back pain specialist.
The costs outlined in the chart provided by attorneys come to about $12,500. At the time of the altercation, Townsend was without medical insurance, according to his attorneys.
Townsend’s attorneys claim that Tyson, the ‘former undisputed heavyweight champion,’ was well aware of his ability to ’cause severe injuries to another person.’
‘There were several remedies available to Mr. Tyson, but he chose violence.’
The letter then cites Tyson’s subsequent appearance on an episode of Jimmy Kimmel’s late-night television show as evidence that he had erred.
Discussing the plane incident, Tyson said: ‘Hey listen, I’m usually good at these things. I was wrong, that should’ve never happened. That’s me back in my primitive child stages, I shouldn’t of done that, but I was just irritated, tired, high, and pissed off. S*** happens.’
Prior to boarding the flight out of San Francisco, Tyson had been celebrating the cannabis-themed ‘holiday’ 4/20 on the city’s Hippie Hill.
The victim (standing) continuously gestured towards the camera during the incident.
Tyson is seen in a video grab at his breaking point, when he turns around and begins to punch Townsend after becoming increasingly irritated by the overzealous fan
Townsend’s attorneys claim that Tyson, the ‘former undisputed heavyweight champion,’ was well aware of his ability to ’cause severe injuries to another person’
The week of the altercation, Tyson was seen leaving the Eden Rock Hotel, where he was ushered into a waiting car. He had been scheduled to attend the Benzinga Cannabis Conference in South Florida
Several weeks after the interaction, the San Mateo County District Attorney Stephen M. Wagstaffe decided not to pursue charges against Tyson.
In a statement at the time, Wagstaffe said his office declined to file misdemeanor battery charges because of ‘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.’
Both Tyson and Townsend are ex-convicts. Townsend, originally of Punta Gorda, Florida, has served 20- and 15-month prison sentences for a variety of crimes, including possession of Oxycodone, burglary, grand theft, fraud, and trafficking stolen property, according to a records search. In one 2018 incident he stole a trailer by trespassing and hitching the unit to his pickup.
Townsend was last released from a Florida prison in July of 2020 after serving 15 months of a 25-month sentence for that incident and his use of a fraudulent personal ID. He previously did time for trafficking stolen property in 2009 and 2010.
In 1992, Tyson was sentenced to six years in prison after being convicted of rape. He was released in 1995 after three years.