The Alameda County district attorney’s office has dismissed the case against two men who pleaded guilty to battery charges last week. The decision came after authorities reviewed a video that showed an interaction, between the men and two Downtown Berkeley Association workers, that began as a verbal altercation and took a violent turn.
In the video — which has been viewed on YouTube more than 60,000 times — a worker for the merchants association can be seen punching one of those men at least 10 times, pushing him to the ground. When the worker, identified in court papers as Jeffrey Bailey, initially told authorities about the March 19 incident, prior to the discovery of the video, he said he had just been defending himself.
Read more about homelessness in Berkeley, and past coverage of the story.
Police arrested Quinton Cocklereese, 29, and Nathan Swor, 23, based on Bailey’s report, and the district attorney’s office filed seven misdemeanor charges against the pair. Last week, police said they learned of the video — which was posted online by Bryan Hamilton on Sunday, March 22 — and alerted the district attorney’s office to it. But the two homeless men had already pleaded guilty to battery and been sentenced to probation.
When the association learned of the video, Bailey was fired and his co-worker, Carmen Francios, was suspended. The association could not immediately be reached Wednesday, April 1, for an update. But the organization has repeatedly apologized for the incident and called Bailey’s apparent behavior “totally unacceptable.”
A representative for the Alameda County district attorney’s office said Wednesday that it received the video from the Berkeley Police Department “late last week.”
According to Rebecca Richardson, a spokeswoman for the office, “All parties agreed to revisit the case against Swor and Cocklereese and added it to Monday’s calendar. We allowed the defendants to withdraw their guilty plea, and we dismissed their case in entirety in the interest of justice. At our request, the Judge stipulated on record to a factual finding of innocence for each defendant.”
Richardson said the district attorney’s office is waiting for the Berkeley Police Department to conclude its investigation into what took place prior to determining whether any charges will be filed against Bailey or Francios.
The Berkeley Police Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the case. Berkeleyside will update this story if additional information becomes available.
The video, which appears below, contains graphic language and violence that some viewers may find disturbing. Viewer discretion is advised. The footage has been viewed more than 60,000 times since Thursday morning, when Berkeleyside broke the news of the incident and video.
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