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Thursday, January 19, 2012

Skateboarder Clubbed by Pioneer Square Rent-a-Cop Talks to ESPN

Posted by Denis C. Theriault on Thu, Jan 19, 2012 at 1:29 PM

Remember the story about the pair of skateboarders at Pioneer Courthouse Square who were roughed by up three security guards in 2009 and wound up filing a $1.3 million civil suit that was headed for court earlier this month? It's currently close to being settled out of court for an undisclosed sum of cash, a source close the case has confirmed to the Mercury.

That nugget came out yesterday, when ESPN's skateboarding blog (who knew they had such a thing?) wound up publishing an impressively candid interview with one of the skateboarders, Brian Baca—the one who was clubbed over the head with a skateboard, on video. The ESPN post, however, over-reached slightly when reporting the settlement as a done deal that brings "the ordeal to an end."

Settlement talks began just days before the civil case's scheduled January 9 start date, but have yet to be officially wrapped up, I'm told. And that's not the only loose end. Baca's lawyer, Anthony Schwartz, has sent a letter to Commissioner Nick Fish's office urging that the guards' employer, Pacific Patrol Services, be denied a chance to provide security at more city parks, citing the case. Fish's office says the city attorney's office is reviewing the letter and wouldn't make it available yesterday. Schwartz, also representing Baca's friend, Clyde King, did not return a message seeking comment.

Does that mean Baca's interview will be a problem? For his sake, let's hope not. It's certainly worth a read. He gives his side of the story (which otherwise resides only in hard-copy deposition transcripts at the courthouse) and talks about the failed attempt to file criminal charges against the guards. Hit the jump for excerpts.

How did you guys end up fighting? Did you throw the first punch or did they?

He did. I came back at him and got all wrapped up with my buddy Clyde King. Clyde tried to grab the dude off of me after I got punched, and he got put in some UFC choke hold and dropped his skateboard right next to the guard attacking me. The guard let me go when he heard the sound of Clyde's board by his feet, and right when I looked up he was already bending over to grab the board. Then it was lights out for about half a second. I tried to deflect his board with mine, but I was a little too late and fell to my tailbone... When I realized that he had hit me over the head, I was mad. I got up for more and got a little slap, and maybe a punch before I got attacked by a third guard, who had witnessed a little of what was happening. The new guard ran into us like a bull—throwing knees into me and forcing me into the street. The original guard who talked to me on top of the stairs had been yanking on the guards, urging them to stop. The guard who hit me was unlicensed and had no training at all. It was his second day on the job. Maybe that guy's not meant to be a security guard.

How did the police handle the case when you were trying to press criminal charges?

Well, the first time I went to the police station after the incident, a detective tried to convince me that I didn't get hit in the head and I was blowing the situation out of proportion. He said we were in the wrong and I think he was just trying to scare me so I would drop the case.... He told me to have all the people involved call him to give him statements. So later in the process we figure out that half of the statements weren't in the report the detective handed over to the DA. After we got denied on the criminal side of things, we figured out that the guard who hit me wasn't licensed and the company knew it the whole time. If we would have known that, we would have won the criminal case.

Also, even though the video footage clearly shows you being hit in the head by a skateboard, didn't the prosecution argue that you weren't hit in the head because the video footage was fake?

Yeah, that was the detective and original DA They thought we "edited it" like George Lucas or something. They both insisted I wasn't hit in the head and were trying to turn it around and say I had hit the security guard with my board.

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