PAYSON, Utah (ABC 4 NEWS) - A Spanish Fork man claims actor Gary Coleman assaulted him with his fists and his truck. Police say it happened just after midnight on Saturday at the South County Bowling Lanes in Payson. Two very different stories have emerged, is it harassment from an over-zealous fan who wouldn't take no for an answer or assault by a frustrated celebrity?
It was closing time at the Payson bowling alley where Coleman is a regular. His friend and bodyguard, who does not want to be identified, says he, Coleman, and Coleman’s wife were just finishing their game when 24-year-old Colt Rushton came up to them and asked to take a photo with his cell phone and became very aggressive about it when Coleman said no. “He asked the kid not to take pictures. Why can’t he be an adult and respect his [Coleman’s] privacy,” said his bodyguard. The bodyguard, we’ll call “Fred,” says the harassment continued outside as Coleman and his wife tried to leave. “This kid would not back off—he would not back off.”
Police say Coleman’s truck struck Rushton and hit a car that had pulled up behind Coleman’s truck. Fred says Rushton ran around the actor’s pickup as Coleman was backing out. “The kid was way careless. He was reckless. Who runs out on somebody that’s turning?”
Rushton tells ABC4 a different account of what happened. He says Coleman’s wife took his cell phone, that Coleman threw several punches at him before getting behind the wheel of his truck. Rushton says he was trying to get his cell phone from Coleman when he put his truck in gear and struck Rushton knocking him to the ground.
“He did not intentionally hit this kid,” said Fred, “He [Coleman] was just trying to get out of here.” Payson Police say a County Deputy witnessed the scuffle and intervened. “He opened the door and pulled Gary out,” said Fred. Fred says the truck was still in gear when the deputy pulled Coleman out. It was heading toward Rushton who was still on the ground. Fred says he hopped in and put on the brakes.
Police say no one has been arrested or cited and say there’s some indication alcohol was a factor. Fred says it shows just how far some people will go to harass a celebrity. “They’re just like you and me. They want to be able to go out and do things and enjoy life.” Rushton claims his cell phone was taken by the Colemans and given back to him by investigators with all his stored information deleted. The Payson Police say it a case still under investigation.