TORONTO -- The lawyer for a man who threw a banana at a black NHL player says his client deeply regrets what he did and had no idea his actions could be seen as racist.
Lawyer Faisal Joseph says Chris Moorhouse was caught up in the drama of a tense game featuring his favorite hockey team and threw the banana at the Philadelphia Flyers' Wayne Simmonds in hopes of preventing the winning goal. The Detroit Red Wings won in a shootout in the game played in London, Ontario.
The lawyer says the 26-year-old Moorhouse is "mortified" and deeply remorseful. Moorhouse fears the reputation of his family and hometown have been clouded.
"He was horrified when he saw the implications a day later as to how it had come out, and he said to me, 'If I had an apple or an orange, I would have thrown that out onto the ice. I did not realize the significance,'" Joseph said. "This is a young guy who's guilty, if anything, of an act of stupidity."
Moorhouse has been charged under Ontario's Trespass to Property Act and faces a maximum fine of $2,000. Police say Moorhouse's actions do not meet the test for a hate crime or mischief charge.
London police chief Brad Duncan said the case didn't meet the criteria for a hate crime or mischief charge.
"You have to demonstrate and be motivated by hatred," Duncan said. "Although the banana did hit the ice it did not interfere with the play so it didn't meet the mischief threshold."
Joseph said fans watching the game near Moorhouse reported that he didn't utter any racial epithets or show any hateful attitudes during the exhibition match.
Simmonds himself has downplayed the banana-throwing incident, calling it unfortunate, but the NHL was quick to weigh in the morning after the game.
"The obviously stupid and ignorant action by one individual is in no way representative of our fans or the people of London, Ontario," commissioner Gary Bettman said.