Ontario police have charged a 26-year-old man for throwing a banana on the ice toward Philadelphia Flyers player Wayne Simmonds during an NHL preseason game.
Chris Moorhouse of London, Ontario, was served a summons for engaging in a prohibited activity under the provincial trespassing act. If convicted, he faces a fine of up to $2,000.
London Police Chief Brad Duncan said at a news conference Wednesday the offense did not meet the threshold of a hate crime or mischief.
A banana was thrown from the stands Thursday night as Simmonds skated toward Detroit goalie Jordan Pearce at the John Labatt Center, about 120 miles from Simmonds' birthplace of Scarborough.
Simmonds, who is black, scored on the play in the Flyers' 4-3 overtime loss to Detroit before a crowd of 7,427. Simmonds issued a statement the next day, calling the situation “unfortunate.”
Duncan said that police acted on a complaint by arena management. The information received by police came “from a variety of sources,” he said, including social media.
“Clearly, the incident became the focus of the local community and across the national and international plane,” Duncan said. “Mr. Moorhouse has expressed remorse for his actions.”
Duncan said Moorhouse has retained a lawyer. A court date has not been set.
Duncan said it's the first action of its kind at the Labatt Centre, and it did not meet the threshold of a hate crime or mischief.
“You have to demonstrate and be motivated by hatred,” he said. “Although the banana did hit the ice it did not interfere with the play, so it didn't meet the mischief threshold.”
London Mayor Joe Fontana issued an apology after the game, calling “a stupid and mindless act by a single individual.”
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman also strongly condemned the person responsible.
On Monday, Simmonds allegedly used an anti-gay slur against New York Rangers' agitator Sean Avery during an exhibition in Philadelphia. He admitted to trash talking but denied that he used the slur.
The NHL didn't punish Simmonds because the league said there wasn't conclusive evidence.
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