By Danielle Silva
WOODLAND — A Woodland man was charged with counts of corporal injury and false imprisonment, after allegedly engaging in an altercation that resulted in the loss of his shirt.
On Jan. 25, 2019, the defendant, Jose Carlos Vazquez, had been in the car with the alleged victim, and their child in the back seat, when they broke out into an argument. The rental vehicle, driven by the alleged victim, pulled into the parking lot of a Woodland shopping center. The alleged victim stopped the car and both parties, with the defendant shirtless, ended up outside of the vehicle in an altercation. A bystander then called out and interrupted them, causing the defendant to leave. The alleged victim called dispatch and provided a statement to an officer who arrived at the scene. Both the bystander and officer testified to the alleged victim having a bloody nose.
According to the bystander, he stated he had been at the Chase ATM in the shopping center when he heard a scream. As he turned, he said he saw the defendant holding a woman by the neck near the trunk of a car in the parking lot. The witness testified the defendant had been using his alternate hand to uppercut the woman twice in the face while the woman was holding her hands to her face and her stomach.
The witness approached the two, shouting loudly, “Hey! Hey!” to draw their attention. The defendant allegedly let go of the woman and backpedaled a few steps while the woman went back to the car. The defendant and bystander engaged in a verbal argument where the witness told him, “Hit me, not her.” The defendant then left after about 30 seconds to a minute.
Following the altercation, the witness went to the crying woman and attempted to comfort her, noting that in the back seat of the car there was a young child, around the age of a toddler. The witness attempted to leave his number with the woman as he had been in an abusive relationship himself.
The alleged victim appears to have driven the car about 100 feet toward the Chase bank’s portion of the parking lot, away from the original altercation spot. In his testimony, the bystander noted that the defendant had been shirtless when he saw him and claimed the defendant had been holding his shirt but dropped it at some point. He also shared he had never seen either of them before.
Woodland Police Officer Kent Chan testified next. Around 4:19 p.m. on the date of the incident, the officer had been dispatched to the location of 1250 East Gibson Road, Woodland. There, he had taken a statement and body camera footage of the alleged victim’s statement to him.
According to the statement, the alleged victim and defendant had been in an on-again and off-again relationship for several months. On the day of the incident, the alleged victim had picked up the defendant and intended to drive him to the Welfare office. As they were driving, the defendant allegedly instigated an argument concerning the Snapchat app being on the alleged victim’s phone. They began to argue and the defendant threw water at the woman.
The woman said she then parked the car and then the defendant attempted to pull her out. It was unclear whether the defendant intended to pull her to the passenger seat where he was or if he had gone around to the driver’s seat and attempted to remove her there, only for her to jump into the passenger seat and exit through that side. They then had an altercation where the defendant punched her several times before a bystander interrupted him and the defendant left the scene.
Officer Chan stated he didn’t locate the defendant at any point that day.
He did take pictures of the alleged victim’s injuries, noting that the bleeding came from the woman’s left nostril. He also confirmed that he didn’t see anything from during the altercation. The officer did note that he saw water splashed inside of the vehicle.
While trying to get the alleged victim’s phone number, the officer also stated that her phone was broken and had been for a while. In fact, the alleged victim used the officer’s phone to call a family member.
The statement provided to the officer contrasted with what the alleged victim testified to on the stand. She shared she had been in an on-again and off-again relationship with the defendant, and they both raised a child. She stated that she didn’t remember much that day but noted that she had thrown barbeque sauce at the defendant, pulled at his shirt to where it was removed, and jumped into the passenger seat.
The alleged victim also stated she didn’t remember the defendant hitting her, but remembered hitting him herself.
In a still image from Officer Chan’s body camera, the alleged victim was able to identify the defendant’s shirt in her vehicle. She, however, did not recall the source of the water puddles in the pictures of the car’s interior. The alleged victim did note the child had been asleep during most of the altercation but woke up at some point.
The defense stated that the charge for false imprisonment was unclear and, when clarified as the defendant holding the alleged victim’s neck and preventing her from leaving outlined the charge, the defense argued that the defendant was pushing her neck down instead of holding her in place. They also argued against the corporal injury charge, since the altercation contained mutual combat.
The prosecution argued the bystander stated the defendant was holding the alleged victim’s neck and punched her twice in an uppercut motion. Considering that the defendant also had prior cases concerning domestic violence with a no harassing restraining-order between himself and the alleged victim, the prosecution argued he should be held to his charges.
The court deemed there was plausible evidence to bring the case to trial. The next hearing is scheduled for Oct. 30.