In a preliminary hearing involving a pizza parlor brawl in Winters, the court would learn that an off-duty West Sacramento police officer, Steven Godden, would identify his alleged assailants as, “f— faggots, queers,” in a statement given to an officer from the Winters Police Department.
Miguel and Alfredo Moreno are being charged with assault on an officer and assault with a deadly weapon, among other charges.
The Winters police officer, who will take the stand tomorrow, arrived on the scene the night of May 16, 2014, to find, as he put in his written report, “a very belligerent man who identified the two alleged assailants by using gay slurs and profanity.
In his report given to Corporal Albert Ramos, Officer Jose Hermosillo wrote that off-duty Officer Steven Godden was even belligerent to the emergency medical team treating him that night.
Officer Godden said he went to eat dinner with his children after their little league game. His best friend, Jose Lopez, and a few other friends from the game joined them at the Pizza Factory in Winters.
Under direct examination by Deputy District Attorney Jay Linden, Officer Godden explained to Linden that, while at the little league game, he did have a couple of beers and then drove with his children in the car to the Pizza Factory to eat.
Godden stated, “I know, I’m disappointed in myself for doing that.”
He testified that he and Mr. Lopez went to the pizzeria to eat with their families. Once Jose had gone to the bathroom, Godden said that he walked over toward the bathroom as Jose Lopez and Miguel Moreno were coming out.
Godden said, “I asked Jose, what the h—- were you doing in there? Kissing?” But Godden stated, “It was a joke.”
Godden said that he had met Alfredo Moreno a few years back through mutual friends, and knew he was gay. But he did not know his brother, Miguel. He said that he and Jose returned to their table and had a few beers while eating their pizza.
It was a bit later when Alfredo Moreno, the brother of Miguel, walked into the pizza parlor. Godden said Alfredo accused him of hitting his brother Miguel. (It was unclear, at this point, if or when Miguel was struck).
Words were exchanged and a brawl broke out, leading to Godden suffering a blow to the head. Godden explained that he tried to keep a fight from happening, pushing the defendants outside, trying to get them to leave, go home.
Godden described Miguel to be very drunk, so drunk he could barely stand.
Godden stated they would not leave but instead kept coming at him and his friends. It was within seconds that everyone was fighting.
He said the two defendants were throwing things – napkin holders, cheese shakers, mugs and silverware, and turning over chairs and tables during the brawl. Other families were witnesses to the incident.
Officer Godden was struck in the head, causing him to suffer a concussion. He said he could not recall some of the events and/or the specifics of how they happened but that it was the two defendants who wanted to fight.
During the brawl, Godden said, one of the brothers was put through a plate glass window, but he claimed he did not see how it happened or who was responsible.
Godden asserted he was defending himself and his friend, but denies that he was ever belligerent.
During cross-examination by Attorney Fidel Martinez, representing Miguel Moreno, Godden would contradict the written report made by both Officer Hermosillo and Corporal Ramos. Godden was asked why he would refer to the two alleged assailants as “f—faggots, queers,” but Godden stated, “I do not recall saying faggot, only used homosexuals to identify them to the officer who was taking the report.”
Martinez asked Godden if his father was a former police chief of Winters. “Yes,” he replied.
Godden told Martinez that he only had a couple of beers at the little league park and then maybe one at the parlor.
“I disagree with the officer’s statement, I was not belligerent. I told Miguel to leave, go home and sleep it off and he wouldn’t, he swung at me, shadow boxing, putting himself into a fighting stance.”
In cross-examination by Deputy Public Defender, Dan Hutchinson, representing Alfredo Moreno, he would begin by asking the officer just how many beers he drank while at the park. “I had about 4 or 5,” stated Godden.
“Did you drive your children and another to the pizza place?” asked Hutchinson. “Yes, I did,” answered Godden. “How many did you have at the restaurant?” Hutchinson asked. “I only had one more Corona before the fight broke out.”
Mr. Hutchinson asked Godden about his position as officer, and Godden said he had been off on medical leave because of a shoulder injury, but is now on permanent leave since the incident.
“So, you are now medically retired since this incident?” questioned Hutchinson. “Yes, they told me my paperwork went through and I am now retired,” replied Godden.
Hutchinson moved onto the conversation between Godden and his friend Jose near the bathroom. “So at the time you asked your friend Jose what they were doing, asking if they were kissing, you had no idea that Miguel’s brother was gay?”
“No, I did not – did not know Alfredo was his brother,” asserted Godden.
Godden said that Miguel was not happy after he jokingly asked his friend what they were doing.
Hutchinson asked Godden if punching someone without justification would get an officer fired. “Yes, it would,” Godden replied.
Godden said he had to explain his black eye to his sergeant after asking him how he got the black eye.
It was shortly after the incident Godden was put on medical retirement, but Godden asserted it had nothing to do with the incident.
When Hutchinson asked Godden to stand up and demonstrate what he meant by a fighting stance, he stated, “I can’t, I can’t remember, counsel.”
“Did you get a copy of everyone’s statement emailed to you from your sergeant and did you read what Jose told the officers? Did you ask him to change his statements?” Hutchinson inquired.
“I read my part, but yes, I did know that he told Ramos that, but it is incorrect,” Godden replied.
Godden said that it was his wife, Lisa, who forwarded the email with all of the statements taken from witnesses that night to Jose and the others. But he said he did tell Jose to read the reports, although he asserted, “I did not tell him to change his story.”
Godden testified that he never punched anyone but once he was punched by Alfredo Moreno, he grabbed Alfredo, putting him into a chokehold, squeezing his neck – to gain control, to stop the fight. He said Alfredo kept swinging and kicking at him.
Hutchinson, per Godden’s explanation, demonstrated for the court how he put Alfredo Moreno into a chokehold.
Godden said he saw silverware flying in the air and that Alfredo came at him swinging a utensil and that was when he grabbed him, putting him into the chokehold.
He said it was in self-defense that he took control of Alfredo.
Testifying for the prosecution was Jose Lopez, Godden’s best friend.
Lopez told DDA Linden that when he was in the bathroom, Miguel Moreno had offered him cocaine. After an exchange of words, the two began pushing each other and it was at that point Lopez and Moreno came walking out of the bathroom.
It was then the comment was made to Lopez, “What the h—-were you doing in there, kissing?” by Godden, which Moreno was not happy about.