By Madison Whittemore
WOODLAND, CA – A jury trial resumed Thursday here in Yolo County Superior Court for an accused—a hospital security guard—charged with assaulting an individual identified by the prosecution as “dependent,” who also happens to suffer from Tourette’s syndrome and seizures.
According to court accounts, on August 1, 2020, during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the victim arrived at Woodland Memorial Hospital, complaining of extreme head pain, seizure symptoms, and demanding medical attention.
However, the victim was allegedly being disruptive and was escorted out of the emergency room by two security guards (one of which is the accused).
The altercation continued both verbally and physically, eventually escalating to the point where the accused allegedly assaulted the victim after the complaining witness foamed at the mouth and allegedly “spit” at one of the security guards.
During Thursday’s jury trial, Judge Daniel Wolk began by ruling on two motions presented by the accused’s private defense counsel, Jonathan Gonzale—a 1118 motion to acquit the accused of criminal charges and a 17(b) motion to reduce the accused’s felony charges to misdemeanors.
Deputy District Attorney Jessie Richardson immediately argued the victim should be considered a dependent adult, meaning that he suffers from a level of impairment that limits his ability to carry out normal day-to-day functions or protect his own rights.
DDA Richardson also emphasized the accused was well aware that the victim was a dependent adult and also noted that it’s not necessary for a person to be a trained medical professional to know if someone is dependent or not.
DDA Richardson continued, citing when the victim began to foam at the mouth at the onset of his alleged seizure and explained to Judge Wolk that “the sounds that are made don’t support somebody who is…hocking a loogie and trying to spit at someone,” which is what defense attorney Gonzales had previously argued.
Judge Wolk then turned to Gonzales to hear his rebuttal before ruling on the two motions.
Gonzales vehemently disagreed with DDA Richardson, explaining the victim/complaining witness should not be considered a dependent adult because he is able to carry out day-to-day activities just as any other independent adult is able to do.
“Under their theory, anybody who suffers from any kind of disorder is a dependent adult,” defense attorney Gonzales stated, referencing Julius Caesar’s seizure disorder and explaining how he still managed to run a country while suffering from frequent episodes.
Judge Wolk denied both motions after referencing the substantial amount of evidence against the accused that was presented by DDA Richardson.
The first defense witness previously worked at Woodland Memorial Hospital as a security guard and the accused was his lead supervisor during the incident in 2020.
The witness testified he arrived on scene after receiving a call about a “disruptive individual” who was “acting unresponsive” to the security guards’ commands to calm down, cease the swearing, and cooperate with sitting in a wheelchair.
“We were trying to get him in the wheelchair so when I came to assist him he clenched his body up and (the accused) was lifting him up inside the wheelchair and when I grabbed his legs he clenched his legs up…so it was hard for me to put him in the wheelchair,” the witness testified, explaining how much the victim resisted.
The witness also explained that he had worked as a security guard for more than 10 years and had a significant amount of experience when it comes to reading people and their intentions and added the victim had a sort of “smirk” on his face when resisting, cursing, and using several racial slurs.
Upon cross-examination, DDA Richardson played over 20 minutes of audio recording from the altercation.
“I need a f**king wet towel…I’m having a f**king focal seizure…what are you doing to me?” the complaining witness screamed in the audio.
“Get in the goddamn chair” the accused responded while allegedly pushing the complaining witness’s head down into the wheelchair—which the accused said he did “lightly” but the victim described it as a “punch.”
The end of the audio recording contained multiple pleas from the victim including pleas for pain medication, a dark room, water, and more cool towels.