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Man who pied Kevin Johnson says mayor overreacted by punching him

William B. Plowman / Reuters

A protester says he put a pie in Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson's face because he disagrees with the mayor's priorities and has accomplished little with peaceful activism.

Sean Thompson was arrested on suspicion of assaulting a public official at a charity dinner Wednesday night after hitting the former NBA player with what he says was a coconut cream pie.

In an interview with The Associated Press on Thursday in jail, Thompson says the mayor overreacted, punched him ''at least two times, and pretty hard," and sent him to the hospital to receive nine stitches.

Johnson's signature achievement in office was getting a $550 million arena built for the city's NBA team, the Sacramento Kings.

Thompson says he was angry with the mayor for devoting so much of his political energy to that endeavor and not to needs such as education and homelessness.

A witness says Johnson threw punches and tackled Thompson.

Erika Bjork says the former NBA star was standing near her at Wednesday night's outdoor event at Sacramento Charter High School when he was hit.

Johnson spokeswoman Crystal Strait says Thompson approached the mayor from behind, grabbed him and ''pulled him back'' before shoving the white dessert in his face.

Bjork says the mayor looked shocked and swung at the man multiple times, but she didn't see him land any punches. She says Johnson then wrestled the man to the ground, and mayoral staff and a police officer pinned him down.

Strait agreed with Bjork's account.

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