September 29, 2022
Rangers fan caught on video sucker-punching Tampa Bay Lightning fan pleads not guilty to assault

NEW YORK — The Rangers fan accused of punching a rival fan at Madison Square Garden after Thursday night’s game has faced a judge and pleaded not guilty to assault.

Police say the suspect, 29-year-old Staten Island resident James Anastasio, exchanged words with a 26-year-old man in a Tampa Bay Lightning jersey before Anastasio punched the man, knocking him to the floor.

“We believe that Garden surveillance will confirm the events immediately prior to the short, viral clip captured on cellphone camera.  James repeatedly tried to defuse and deescalate the situation, one where he was immensely outnumbered and ultimately threatened by a group of highly intoxicated individuals.  While he is anxious for the rest of his story to be revealed, he also trusts and respects the Court process.  We are confident that James will be vindicated once all the facts come to light.”

Anastasio has been banned from the Garden for life. Madison Square Garden released a statement saying in part, “All guests — no matter what team they support — should feel safe and respected in The Garden. This has and always will be our policy.”

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