Witnesses Testify At Hearing for Wheeler Protester

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Defense attorneys in the case of Roberto Hernandez officially started presenting testimony from their witnesses Friday afternoon, but the conclusion of the hearing was once again postponed for a tentative later date.

Hernandez faces five violations of the code of student conduct, including allegedly biting a police officer.

Friday's hearing, which featured two UC police officers, two student protesters and a surprise witness from the Alameda County district attorney's office, presented varying perspectives of Hernandez's actions April 9.

UC police Officer Billy Brashear, a member of the special response unit, was the officer allegedly bitten by Hernandez.

Brashear, who had been wearing special protective gloves the day of the protest, testified that the bite had not torn his skin nor produced any redness.

"It hurt really bad," he said.

Of the three videotapes of the protest documented by the UCPD, Brashear agreed that none clearly showed Hernandez biting him.

But video coverage shown during the hearing featured Brashear removing his gloves to check his hand after handcuffing Hernandez, while other officers held him down.

Hernandez faces an additional charge of assault based on UC police Officer Ken Torres' testimony that Hernandez attempted to bite him as Torres pulled him out of the circle of protesters physically linked together.

Although Torres said he does not actually remember Hernandez's alleged attempt to bite him, he said he based his charge on his observations in the videotape.

"I know what I saw on the tape," Torres said.

But Torres' police report, which focuses on the alleged attempted bite, was signed April 17, eight days after the protest in Wheeler Hall.

Torres, who was unable to explain the discrepancy between the date written on the police report and the actual date of the incident, maintained he wrote the report the day of the protest. He said he is usually not allowed to leave the police station until his report is completed.

Two students who sat near Hernandez in Wheeler Hall when he was pulled away by police testified Hernandez had been surrounded by more police officers than the other protesters had. Both testified that several police officers had simultaneously applied pain holds on Hernandez.

They also testified that they did not observe Hernandez bite an officer.

The university does not allow the names of student witnesses and the student committee member to be


The appearance of a surprise witness for the university received adamant opposition from Hernandez's lawyers, who argued he would reveal privileged information about the criminal case settlement.

Stuart Hing, the deputy district attorney of Alameda County who granted the "factual finding of innocence" to the original 79 Wheeler Hall protesters facing criminal charges, served as a controversial witness for the university.

Hing said he granted the factual finding of innocence "to help (the protesters) in their careers," but added he would never have agreed to grant the same finding at a university hearing.

Committee on Student Conduct Chair David Zusman allowed his testimony at the hearing despite vehement opposition from Weills, who said discussion of the criminal case settlement by Hing was considered "privileged information."

State law precludes state entities from discussing settlements in any proceeding outside the trial, Weills said.

Weills also said Hing's testimony was unfair because defense lawyers were never notified about his testimony and were unprepared to cross-examine Hing.

It is unknown whether the committee will allow Hing's testimony to be considered.

A student who participated in the 1999 takeover of Barrows Hall to protest cuts made to the Ethnic Studies Department testified that Barrows Hall protesters were provided with an open hearing and a five-member committee, which had no legal counsel. She called it "a very different environment" from Hernandez's hearing.


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