Per TMZ, the man who was punched by Tyson during an altercation on a JetBlue flight from San Francisco to Florida last year, Melvin Townsend, sent a pre-litigation letter to the boxer through his lawyer. He's seeking a settlement for "injuries and damages" he suffered in what he described as a "vicious assault."
In the letter, Townsend said he was "excited" to speak with Tyson when he noticed he was sitting near him on the flight. "As a former undisputed heavyweight champion, the potential to cause severe injuries to another person goes without question," Townsend's attorney Jake Jondle wrote, per The New York Post. "There were several other remedies available to Mr. Tyson, but he chose physical violence." The letter also highlights that Tyson admitted he "was wrong" to punch Townsend during the incident and that it "never should've happened."
"Not only is the evidence clear that Mr. Tyson committed the intentional torts of assault and battery, but he also acted recklessly and negligently," said Jondle. "Additionally, Mr. Tyson admitted on national television to attacking Mr. Townsend and never once claimed a legal justification for his actions, such as self-defense. He admitted he should not have attacked Mr. Townsend. Being irritated by a fan is not a legal defense to any of Mr. Townsend's claims."
Following the encounter, Townsend reportedly suffered from "a severe headache and neck pain" and is "still suffering with the effects of the assault to this day." Jondle claimed that Townsend was unable to receive medical attention because he didn't have insurance and lost "several jobs due to the unfortunate notoriety he experienced" as a result of the video going viral.
The settlement he's seeking would cover his medical care, including therapy for depression and PTSD. If Tyson's legal team agreed to the settlement, Townsend would no longer be able to file lawsuits against him.
Tyson's attorney Alex Spiro has accused Townsend of attempting to "shakedown" the boxer. "I have received a shakedown letter related to some instigator’s harassment of Mike a year ago and the aftermath," he said. "There will be no shakedown payment."
When video of the incident surfaced last year, a source said Townsend was "extremely intoxicated and wouldn’t stop provoking the boxer in his seat.” Police did not pursue charges against Tyson due to "the circumstances surrounding the confrontation." Those circumstances “include 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 that no charges be filed in this case.”
“He was fucking with me, man,” Tyson said of Townsend on his Hotboxin' with Mike Tyson podcast, adding, “I took pictures with this n***a.”