San Diego Chargers linebacker Thomas Keiser pleads not guilty to role in downtown fight

SAN DIEGO - San Diego Chargers linebacker Thomas Keiser pleaded not guilty Monday to a misdemeanor battery charge stemming from a fight at a Gaslamp Quarter restaurant.

Keiser, 24, was arrested about 10:50 p.m. Dec. 29, just hours after the Chargers beat the Kansas City Chiefs and clinched the last playoff spot in the AFC.

Police said Keiser and another man got into an argument that turned into a fight inside the barleymash restaurant on Fifth Avenue.

The other man suffered minor injuries and refused treatment by paramedics. Keiser was arrested and released from jail after posting $8,000 bail.

A source tells 10News that Keiser was at the bar with a male relative, possibly his father, Tony Keiser. 10News was told a manager told Keiser Sr. he was cutting him off because he had too much to drink. Then, the source said Keiser Jr. bought another round of drinks –one for him and one for his relative.

According to the source, the manager saw that and threw them both out of the bar.

After the incident, the owners of barleymash gave 10News this statement:

"He, (Keiser Jr.) inconspicuously followed an employee to an area outside the restaurant's office, where he sat and waited for several minutes. When the employee emerged from the office, Mr. Keiser ambushed and brutally assaulted him."

The statement went on to say Keiser attacked the employee from behind and they have the surveillance video to back it up.

"barleymash has proof that this was instead an unprovoked, vicious assault by Mr. Keiser on a barleymash employee," the statement read.

Most arraignments usually take place within 72 hours after an arrest. In this case, it took place 41 days after Keiser was arrested.

10News asked the City Attorney's office if they were waiting for the end of football season and they said no.

10News called Keiser's father to ask if he was in fact with his son the night he was arrested but he did not want to comment. barleymash also did not want to comment.

Keiser was arraigned via fax, handled by his attorney, Monday morning. The city attorney told 10News that Keiser is charged with misdemeanor and not felony battery because the victim did not have serious bodily injury. A readiness conference was set for March 24.

Keiser was signed by the Chargers last May after two seasons with the Carolina Panthers. He was waived by the Chargers Aug. 31 when the team reduced its roster to the regular season maximum of 53 and signed to the practice squad a day later.

Keiser was promoted to the active roster in October and appeared in a dozen games, starting three, including the Dec. 29 game against the Chiefs.

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