Gary Coleman pleaded not guilty to charges of disorderly conduct and reckless driving Tuesday, his lawyer said.
Both charges are misdemeanors and stem from a September incident at a bowling alley in Payson, about 60 miles south of Salt Lake City. Coleman lives in nearby Santaquin.
According to court documents, Coleman, his wife and his bodyguard were bowling in early September when Colt Rushton took a few photos of Coleman with his cell-phone camera and took a few more of Coleman’s truck in the parking lot.
Rushton’s lawyer, Dustin Lance, said Coleman’s wife took Rushton’s cell phone, a scuffle ensued and then Coleman ran into Rushton with his truck as he was backing out of the parking lot.
Coleman’s attorney, Randy Kester, said the actor didn’t do anything wrong and was just trying to leave the parking lot undisturbed.
“He simply acted accordingly with what normal human beings would do,” Kester said. “He never intend to do anything but come there in peace and leave there in peace. Had it not been that he’s Gary Coleman, we wouldn’t even be talking about it.”
The 40-year-old former star of “Diff’rent Strokes” (which aired from 1978 to 1986) Coleman also faces a civil lawsuit filed by Rushton. Kester said Coleman wouldn’t consider a plea deal because he said Coleman didn’t break the law and that it might entitle Rushton to monetary damages.
Lance said he’s not concerned or surprised with Coleman’s plea.
“It has no effect whatsoever on the civil case,” he said.
This isn’t Coleman’s first run-in with the law in Utah.
In July, Coleman was cited for disorderly conduct in Provo after witnesses said they saw him arguing with his wife. Authorities said the two were in his truck having a heated discussion about their relationship when two people saw him hit the steering wheel with his hands, yell at her and run around his truck with his arms in the air. The witnesses feared for his wife’s safety, according to the police report. He was later ordered to pay a fine.