The Philadelphia Police Department announced Monday that it will not charge the person who portrays Gritty, the Philadelphia Flyers’ mascot, over an incident in which a man claims the mascot punched his 13-year-old son in the back during a meet-and-greet event in November.
“That investigation, which has been completed and is no longer active, determined that the actions of the individual portraying the Flyers’ mascot did not constitute physical assault as alleged,” the department said in a statement without identifying who was wearing the Gritty costume at the time of the incident.
In a statement of their own, the Flyers said they conducted a “thorough internal investigation that found no evidence of the described actions ever having taken place."
Chris Greenwell, a Flyers season ticket holder, claimed that after posing for a photo Nov. 19, his son, Brandon, playfully tapped Gritty on the head three times. The mascot responded by lunging “toward my son from about eight to 10 feet away” and punching him in the back, he told Delaware Online last month. Brandon suffered a back bruise, Greenwell said, requiring a visit to a chiropractor, and he filed a complaint with police Dec. 21.
“I respect the police’s decision, but I stand by what my son told me and what I saw, and I just want to put this behind me,” Greenwell said Monday, per the Philadelphia Inquirer. “Any parent would have done the same if they were in the same situation.”
In April, a woman sued the Houston Astros for $1 million after that team’s mascot, Orbit, fired a T-shirt from a “bazooka style” cannon at her. The shirt struck her hand and “shattered” her left index finger, resulting in an injury that has required two surgeries. In 2009, a man sued the Kansas City Royals after that team’s mascot, Sluggerrr, threw a hot dog into the stands at Kauffman Stadium, hitting him in the eye and causing him to suffer a detached retina that required multiple surgeries. The case was heard by numerous courts in Missouri before a jury ruled against the fan in 2015.
Gritty became a fan favorite soon after his introduction by the Flyers in 2018, his googly-eyed exuberance endearing him to Philadelphia’s notoriously fickle fans. Shortly after the accusations against him were announced, the Inquirer reports, fans volunteered to act as character witnesses and started a #FreeGritty hashtag on social media. But Greenwell is far from amused.
“I don’t want my 13-year-old son to suffer and be traumatized anymore,” Greenwell told the Inquirer. “My issue was with the performer in the costume and the way it was initially handled by [team owner] Comcast Spectacor.
“It became something it shouldn’t have,” he said.