By Danielle Eden C. Silva
A man has been charged with domestic violence after a woman claimed being pushed at a party and punched at a friend’s home, after trying to check his phone.
On March 31, 2019, Suavae Jamesking Cook, his then-girlfriend, and several other friends had been at a party located 10 minutes away from Cache Creek Casino. The now ex-girlfriend, who is the complaining witness of the case, testified that the party had been hosted at Mr. Cook’s friend’s home on a private ranch. During the party, she claims that Mr. Cook was consistently looking at his phone and had tried to leave the party early.
The complaining witness shared she and Mr. Cook have had relationship issues concerning infidelity — she suspected on this occasion, like others, that he had been texting another girl during the party and she wanted to see his phone. The two started arguing on the side of the ranch garage, where she demanded to know whom he was texting. Mr. Cook began to kick rocks and told her to go away. The complaining witness then tried to take his phone. In response, the defendant pushed her with both hands, knocking the wind out of her. He again instructed her to leave him alone. She claimed no one else saw them.
They separated from each other for awhile before she approached him while they were drinking shots. The defendant was again on his phone and she asked whom he was texting. Again, he told her to go away. The complaining witness began to cry and then went into the car of their friend, “ML,” who would drive them to his home on the Cache Creek reservation. Mr. Cook, ML and “S,” who was ML’s girlfriend and the complaining witness’s best friend, joined her at the car after the party.
In the car ride, the complaining witness saw Mr. Cook on his phone again. She stated he was hiding it and she took his phone. He then punched her in the face with a closed fist, causing her lip to split. The blood coated her sweater, according to her. The complaining witness shared she had been hit by him before, but never in the face.
The complaining witness and the defendant had been in the room upstairs in ML’s apartment while ML and S were downstairs. She began to gather her things upstairs and called him out for hitting her. The complaining witness again grabbed his phone and the defendant grabbed her back. They wrestled for a bit, which consisted of pushing. Mr. Cook pushed her to the ground and she got back up again, continuing to wrestle. She noted throwing punches of her own in self-defense before stating he punched her in the face with a closed left hand, his dominant hand.
After being dazed from the punch, she fell down to the couch before eventually getting up to leave. Five minutes after the fight, she openly took a video of the defendant lying down on the couch and asking repeatedly if he hit her. In the video, the defendant had responded by asking if she started it all.
The alleged victim (AV) then went to her car where her friend, S, saw her injuries and took several pictures of the swelling. The AV then snuck home, trying to avoid showing her family her injuries. On the following day, she claimed at work she had been in an accident and, at the emergency room for a check-up, she shared that she had been in a riot and had been kicked and punched. The AV still cared about Cook during this time and didn’t want to get him in trouble. The bruising and swelling lasted a month after the altercation. She did take pictures of the bruising herself, as did another officer.
On April 6, before the complaining witness made the report, she noted she had gone to a get-together after a funeral and had gone drinking with the defendant and “AR.” She and the defendant ended up arguing again, but she did not get into a physical altercation with him. AR did, however, end up leaving the car because the arguing was too loud.
A week later, her family finally convinced her to contact the police. She contacted the sheriff’s department. At the time, however, she noted she was not fully honest as she didn’t want to drag any of her friends into this and she didn’t want to get the defendant in trouble. In court now, she claims she is now speaking her truth.
In cross-examination, the complaining witness stated that she didn’t recall instances where their arguing could have been noticed by other people. The defense pointed out an instance in January 2019 where the defendant and complaining witness were at a hotel and someone had called the police. There, the complaining witness had stated she had faced domestic abuse before. However, she had no recollection of this.
The defense also noted the timeline of events. The complaining witness denied that the defendant had broken up with her and she threatened to have her brothers involved. Additionally, she had not mentioned the video until two months after the original report. She also didn’t talk about ML or S until she broke ties off with them, as S didn’t want ML to be brought into the case to testify. In the original police report, she had stated she had been at ML’s home and drank approximately five Modelo beers and three shots before the altercation and had not mentioned the party at all.
The complaining witness also left out some verbal aspects and witnesses in her testimony. A relative of the private ranch owner claimed to have seen the defendant and the complaining witness together. The complaining witness also left out using the n-word while insulting the defendant. The defense reasoned that the defendant had been acting in self defense, as the complaining witness continued attempting to grab his phone and pushing him back after he told her to go away.
The court ruled that there was probable cause to bring the case to trial, on the basis that the defendant was the first one to throw a closed fist punch. In addition, several pictures had been shown in court of the swelling and bruising the complaining witness sustained, which were significant signs of force. Arraignment is set for later this month.