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Suspect in Alleged Assault Is 7 Feet Tall, Orange, and Fuzzy

Newser — John Johnson

Police in Philadelphia are investigating a strange case: whether Flyers' mascot Gritty punched a kid during a publicity photo shoot. The NHL team says it investigated and found nothing to support the allegation, but the 13-year-old boy's father is pressing the case, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer.

The controversy began at a meet-and-greet for season-ticket holders in November. Chris Greenwell says he and son Brandon posed for a photo with Gritty, and afterward he says Brandon playfully tapped the mascot on the head three times, reports the Delaware News Journal.

"Two seconds later, (Gritty) lunged toward my son from about 8 to 10 feet away and punched him in the back," Greenwell says. "I thought it was horseplay, because he does it with so many people."

Greenwell gives a more damning account to the Inquirer, saying that Gritty "took a running start" and "punched my son as hard as he could." Greenwell says he took his son to a chiropractor when the teen complained of pain, and Brandon was diagnosed with a “contusion to lower thoracic spine with subluxation" (aka a bruise). The team says it could not corroborate the allegation and offered to let Brandon sit on the team bench during warmups, or something along those lines. At one point in the email exchanges, an exec wrote to Greenwell: “At no time did I state that one of my colleagues hit your son. Gritty, however, recalls being hit on the head repeatedly by someone during one of the earlier photo shoots.” Greenwell filed a police complaint on Dec. 21, and the matter is under investigation. Meanwhile, the #FreeGritty hashtag is trending, notes the Washington Post.

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This article originally appeared on Newser: Suspect in Alleged Assault Is 7 Feet Tall, Orange, and Fuzzy