Hundreds of rioters gather around a TV news truck which was flipped and set alight on Fleming Drive in London in the early hours of Sunday March 18, 2012.
Credits: CRAIG GLOVER The London Free Press / QMI AGENCY
LONDON, ON - Nathaniel Green said he isn't the one who set fire to a CTV news van during the St. Patrick's Day riot in London, ON.
"There's no possible way that I could have been involved in that riot," the 25-year-old QMI Agency Monday.
Despite Green's strong denials, London police said Friday he's charged with arson and being a member of an unlawful assembly.
That came as news to Green.
He said he was at a party near the riot and got caught in an explosion that knocked him to his feet while walking to his home close by.
The blast also left him with burns up and down both arms, which required skin grafts.
"I was more of a victim," Green said. "I didn't play any part in the riot whatsoever."
Green - not a student at the nearby Fanshawe College - said he was at a party at a house on nearby until about 11:30 p.m. March 17. The walk to his place, across a park, takes about 5 to 10 minutes, he says.
He says he had "four or five beers" over a two-hour period before leaving the party for home with three others, including a friend.
As they approached, they saw the CTV news van, already on fire.
"I didn't start the fire. I didn't ignite it," Green said. Green says he was walking alongside the burning vehicle when he heard a "ding."
"We don't know for sure, but from what we've heard, a propane tank was thrown on it," said Roxanne Green, Nathaniel's mother. "He was close enough that he got burned."
Green said he's heard the van could have been burning for as long as 30 minutes before he arrived on the scene.
"His arms got burnt, his face got burnt," Green's mother added.
He said the only contact he had with police the night of the infamous party was when the officers pulled him to safety.
"Actually, the riot team had to get me through the crowd and everything," he said. "I was pretty much escorted to the ambulance."
Green was taken to hospital for treatment the night of the riot. During that period, officers came and took his phone, which Green says has photos and videos from that night.
But Green insisted the officers did not say they were laying any charges. He admitted the visit is hazy in his mind.
"I remember the cops coming in and taking a statement," he said.
Green says he was co-operative, but at no time did he admit to any wrongdoing. "I admitted to being there. I'm burnt to a crisp," he said.
Although he said he's mystified, Green believes police may have charged him based on information from Facebook, but he said he's hard to spot - a guy in a green T-shirt, like everyone else - on the online videos he's seen.
When he heard authorities report there had been no injuries at the riot, he blanched.
"I thought that was bull----. There's no way," he said, indicating his own burns.
His mother said she tried to contact London police on Saturday, but was unable to get in touch with anyone who could help explain the charges to her.
Const. Dennis Rivest confirmed the charges against Green.