SIOUX FALLS, South Dakota (AFP) – Vinnie Jones, Hollywood tough guy and star of the Vinnie Jones Wake Up Call smiled and mouthed “thank you” to a jury that found him not guilty Friday of assault charges.
Jones was arrested for punching Juan Trevino-Barrera shortly after the man’s friend smashed Jones over the head with a beer mug during a brawl over a game of pool in the small city of Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
He told the jury that he was “driven by fear” and acting in self-defense when he saw Barrera approach him as he made his way to the bathroom to wash the blood off his face.
“My nose was hanging off. You could have put a quarter in it,” he testified.
Security video shows Jones punched Barrera, 24, three times before Barrera threw him to the ground.
Barrera, who also has a civil suit against Jones for damages and lost wages, acknowledged in court Thursday that he sold his story to a tabloid and stood to get more money if Jones was convicted.
He was also recently convicted on drug charges.
“We came here today and told the truth, and the people of Sioux Falls saw through that. They saw through Barrera and his antics,” Jones said after the verdict was read.
“I stood up for myself that night and I stood up for myself today,” Jones said.
“And justice has prevailed.”
After the verdict was read, Jones met with jurors outside the courtroom, thanked them and signed autographs. At least one autograph read, “Be good. Vinnie Jones.”
One juror said she felt Barrera’s story changed too much between what he told police, the tabloids and the jury.
“He back-pedaled a lot, and contradicted himself a lot,” Kim Westendorf told AFP.
After a football career in which he developed a brutal “hard man” reputation, Jones debuted as an actor in “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.” His other film credits include “Snatch” and “Gone in Sixty Seconds.”
When asked if he would like to return to South Dakota, Jones said, “Hopefully, if the wife lets me. Maybe straight to the lodge this time.”