Jackson Pleads Not Guilty

By Loretta Hunt Aug 28, 2008
Quinton "Rampage" Jackson pleaded not guilty Thursday to two felony and four misdemeanor counts at the Central Justice Center in Santa Ana, Calif.

The Orange County District Attorney’s office had charged the former UFC light heavyweight champion Monday after a six-week investigation surrounding his July 15 arrest in Costa Mesa, Calif.

Jackson, who sent authorities on a vehicular chase through the streets and sidewalks of Costa Mesa and Newport Beach, pleaded not guilty to “one felony count of evading while driving recklessly, one felony count of evading a peace officer and driving against traffic, three misdemeanor counts of hit and run with property damage, and one misdemeanor count of reckless driving.”

A pre-trial date was set for Oct. 9, while a pre-hearing of the case will be held on Nov. 3, where evidence will be presented to a judge who decides if the charges have enough merit to move forward with a trial.

If convicted, Jackson faces a maximum sentence of three years in prison. Jackson posted $25,000 bail Thursday and was released from police custody.

Jackson, 30, is accused of sideswiping and causing damage to two vehicles after he drove up on the curb with his raised Ford pick-up truck near State Route-55 and 19th St., according to a press release from the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.

The Memphis native allegedly fled the initial collision scene and was flagged by a police officer, who observed the fighter driving on a flat tire and talking on his cell phone. Jackson refused the officer’s requests to pull over and continued to weave in and out of traffic, colliding with another vehicle, said the release.

In the subsequent chase, Jackson allegedly swerved onto the curb of the wrong side of the street into oncoming traffic, “narrowly missing a bus stop and forcing several pedestrians at the bus stop to run out of the way to avoid being hit.”

Jackson ran multiple lights and nearly struck a pedestrian and two bicyclists as several marked police vehicles joined the pursuit, according to the release.

Jackson was eventually taken into custody in Newport Beach outside a friend’s house and bailed out the same day. At the requests of friends, Jackson was placed under a 72-hour mental observation at a local hospital the day after his arrest and was later released.

The outspoken Jackson proved to be one of the UFC’s greatest acquisitions in 2007. A witty and animated spokesman for the sport, Jackson backed up his way with words in the cage, reeling off three impressive victories in the Octagon, including his first-round knockout of light heavyweight king Chuck Liddell (Pictures) at UFC 71 in May 2007.

UFC President Dana White defended the fallen fighter at an open-to-the-public press conference for UFC 87 on Aug. 7 in Minnesota, blaming Jackson’s behavior on sleep deprivation, starvation, and “delirium” following the fighter’s five-round decision title loss to Forrest Griffin (Pictures) at UFC 86 a week before the incident. White has said Jackson (28-7) will fight for the organization again, possibly before the year is out.

On Wednesday, Fighters Only -- the UK’s leading MMA magazine -- announced that Jackson has recently joined the Wolfslair fight team based out of Liverpool, England, which is the home to UFC fighters Michael Bisping (Pictures) and Paul Kelly (Pictures). A Wolfslair rep told Fighters Only that Jackson signed a three-year deal, presumably for management services, and that Jackson will split training between England and his regular camps in Big Bear, Calif.

“The defendant doesn’t have any restrictions on him at this time from leaving the country, as long as he continues to appear for all his court hearings,” said Farrah Emami, spokesperson for the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.
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