(From Press Release) – A former San Francisco State University cheerleader thrown through the glass window of a high rise dorm was acquitted of a slew of felony charges after a jury determined he stabbed his attacker in self-defense, San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi announced today.
Jurors on Tuesday afternoon found 21-year-old Victor Perez not guilty of multiple felony counts of assault with a deadly weapon and assault causing great bodily injury. The charges stemmed from a May 16, 2016 incident in which Perez—bloodied, covered in shattered glass, and dangling halfway out of a third floor window—stabbed the college wrestler who continued to pummel him, said his attorney, Deputy Public Defender Kwixuan Maloof.
Perez was convicted only of one count of misdemeanor battery for punching another member of the wrestling team.
The verdict ended a 16-month legal saga for Perez, an international relations major, dean’s list student, and member of the college cheer team with no criminal history. He faced up to four years in prison and $50,000 in restitution if convicted. The incident resulted in his expulsion from San Francisco State University.
Perez, an amateur disc jockey, had been performing at a party in a third floor dormitory room. The gathering included more than 30 members of the school’s cheer, wrestling, track, and volleyball teams. When a resident advisor ordered the revelers to shut down their fete or face police action, Perez turned off the music and advised guests to exit.
One college wrestler refused to budge. The belligerent man swore at Perez, pushed him, and repeatedly called him “DJ Suck-a-Dick.” When Perez again insisted the man exit, the wrestler grabbed a beer bottle by the neck and took a fighting stance. Terrified of being assaulted, Perez punched the man once in the face, he testified.
A second wrestler who saw the confrontation ran across the room and tackled Perez, launching both of them through a plate glass window. Covered in broken glass and bleeding profusely, Perez dangled with his body halfway out of the third story window for 30 to 90 seconds as the wrestler continued to assault him, witnesses testified.
With his left hand rendered useless due to severed tendons, Perez struggled with his right hand to reach a pocket knife with a 1-inch blade and began stabbing his attacker in the side. When the man retreated, Perez ran to the campus police station, leaving a 1200-foot trail of blood.
Both Perez and the man who threw him through the window were hospitalized. Perez received 24 sutures in his left arm and 12 sutures in his ear, which had to be reconstructed by a plastic surgeon. Perez still does not have full use of his left arm.
The complaining witness received about a dozen stitches and has recovered completely. The man punched by Perez did not need medical attention.
Perez was initially sentenced to a diversion program, where he successfully completed anger management classes. For eight months, officials were unable to get ahold of the complaining witnesses to determine the amount of restitution Perez should pay.
The District Attorney’s office then set the restitution amount at $50,000, despite the complaining witness’ lack of cooperation and the fact that the cost of the wrestler’s treatment was covered by insurance. When prosecutors would not agree to a restitution hearing to weigh the circumstances of the decision, Perez and Maloof decided to go to trial.
“My client faced in impossible choice: go into debt for the rest of his life or go to trial, knowing that if he lost, he could be sent to state prison,” Maloof said. “He knew he was innocent, so he put his trust in the jury and refused to be a victim of government extortion.”
During the trial, two independent witnesses testified that Perez was not the aggressor in the fight. One of the prosecution witnesses, a roommate of the complaining witness, revealed that the wrestler had instructed him how to testify.
“Victor’s body was dangling from the third floor. He was terrified and had just been thrown through a glass window by an experienced college wrestler. He had the absolute right to save his own life,” Maloof said.
Adachi noted that Perez had been victimized twice—first by his attacker, and then by the justice system.
“It’s bad enough that Mr. Perez was charged with a crime, but it’s unconscionable that he was facing prison simply because he could not pay $50,000 in restitution,” Adachi said.