After the Rockets squeezed out a narrow victory over New Orleans on Saturday, a fan at the Toyota Center in Houston, punched Pelicans assistant coach Joe Boylan in the face. In footage obtained by TMZ, the Rockets fan can be seen sizing up Boylan before throwing a punch at the unsuspecting coach. Boylan was knocked to the ground by the blow and the fan was apprehended by police.
The assailant has been identified as 38-year-old Manuel Garcia. It's unclear what provoked Garcia to attack Boylan, but he was arrested on misdemeanor assault charges. Police also took Garcia's 33-year-old girlfriend, Brittney Aplin, into custody for allegedly interfering with their pursuit of Garcia. Both Aplin and Garcia are due in court later this week. If found guilty, Garcia could be looking at up to a year and jail, while Aplin could serve six months for her hand in the incident.
"The Rockets won the game. Then one of the assistant coaches for the New Orleans Pelicans was gathering his things and was essentially cold-cocked or blindsided and struck in the face, brutally in my view," Harris County District Attorney's Office's Nathan Beedle told the local ABC-affiliate. Beedle also elaborated on Garcia's past run-ins with the law. "Clearly, we are going to take this extremely seriously," he continued. "He is a convicted felon on probation right now charged with a Class A assault of a defenseless person in the case."
While the judicial system works to find an appropriate punishment, the Rockets have decided to ban Garcia from their arena for life. The Pelicans are looking to move forward with the season, yet the organization did issue a statement earlier this week that reads: "We are aware of this incident but will have no further comment."