PROVO — It wasn't paparazzi or stalkerazzi, just a man who saw the famed "Watchu talkin' about, Willis?" star and snapped a few pictures on his cell phone.

But actor Gary Coleman reacted to fan Colt Rushton by punching him, then hitting him with his truck, Rushton's attorney said after filing a personal injury lawsuit in 4th District Court.

"People like Gary Coleman, their celebrity status is something afforded to them because we're fans," attorney Dustin Lance said. "They can't freak out and panic when someone takes a picture of them."

Lance explained that Rushton was bowling with some friends at the South County Lanes in Payson on Sept. 6 when he noticed Coleman bowling a few lanes down with his wife, Shannon Price, and bodyguard, Paul Rohbock.

Rushton, noticing the celebrity, began taking pictures with his cell phone's camera.

"If you see Gary Coleman while you're bowling, you're going to take a picture of him, and that's what he did," Lance said.

Coleman's bodyguard came over and told Rushton that if he wanted to keep taking pictures, each one would cost him $20, Lance said.

So he stopped and went back to bowling with his friends, Lance said.

While leaving the bowling alley, Rushton noticed Coleman's truck in the parking lot and that the driver's seat was pulled very close to the dashboard, as Coleman is short.

Thinking it was funny, Lance said, Rushton pulled out his phone to snap another picture.

"As Rushton took a picture of the pickup truck, he was attacked, without warning, from behind by Price and/or Rohbock, who clawed Rushton's arm and grabbed his cell phone away from him," Lance wrote in the lawsuit.

While Rushton was asking for his phone back, Coleman rushed him and began pummeling his chest, according to the lawsuit.

Rushton said he didn't want to fight, that he just wanted his cell phone back. The group ignored him and got in the car.

As he got to the front driver's side of the car, Coleman slammed the truck into reverse, swerved and swung the front of the truck into Rushton, who was thrown 7 feet, Lance said.

He landed on his back and hit his head and doesn't remember specifics of what happened after that. Rushton's friends said Coleman continued backing up until he hit one of their cars.

By then, police had arrived and two officers had to physically remove Coleman from the truck, Lance said.

Rushton was taken to Mountain View Hospital and is still dealing with soft tissue injuries to his neck and back and a left-knee injury that might need surgery.

Coleman was charged with misdemeanors in Payson City Justice Court including class B reckless driving and an infraction of disorderly conduct.

A telephone call to an attorney for Coleman was not immediately returned.

This isn't the first time the 4-foot, 8-inch actor has gotten in trouble for losing his cool in public. In late July 2007, Provo police issued Coleman a misdemeanor citation for disorderly conduct for an argument with his then-fiance Shannon Price.


E-MAIL: sisraelsen@desnews.com


Contributing: Jens Dana