Family thinks teenager did not attack Vallejo worker

February 5, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
Vallejo police have arrested two teens in connection with the brutal assault of a city employee Feb. 1.

The father of the 17-year-old suspect says he asked his son twice about the attack this week after seeing the video on the news. Both times, his son said he had nothing to do with it and that he walked up to the scene after it was over. Now, he is in jail accused of the beating.

The family of the 17-year-old boy cannot believe he is in custody for the brutal beating of a 46-year-old city maintenance worker.

"I've never known him to be violent in his life never," said Matthew Hicks, the suspect's father.

However, a police investigator close to the case says they can clearly see the face of the 17-year-old, along with the face of the 15-year-old they have arrested, on surveillance and cell phone video they have of Monday's attack. They do expect to make more arrests, but they think they have the two worst offenders.

"They're being charged with felony assault and battery and robbery," said Vallejo Police Lt. Eric Mortensen.

The charges of robbery were brought up because police say after they broke the man's jaw, collarbone and skull and knocked out some of his teeth, they grabbed his wallet.

"It's frightening, it's tragic, I mean this level of violence and the fact that the suspects are so young is very concerning," said Mortensen.

The family is concerned that someone so young is being questioned by police without his relatives or an attorney present.

"Kids, you know, can say [anything]. They need somebody to represent them because they may say the wrong thing and don't know what they're saying," said Coy Overton, the suspects' step-grandfather.

A police source says the teenager waived his right to an attorney and then confessed as he watched the videos with investigators.

"At 17 you're too young to waive your rights. You don't have that authority as a 17-year-old," said Hicks.

His family does not think he could have done this, but relatives say he has had a hard time since his mother was killed by her boyfriend in 2007.

"He just needed more counseling to keep him on the right track," said Freda McClendon, the suspect's grandmother.

Police say the 17-year-old did tell them he is sorry about the beating.

Police think a mob mentality took over the crowd.

The attack happened in front of two cameras on Feb. 1 at approximately 3:19 p.m.

Surveillance video from Britton's Mini Mart near Vallejo High School shows the City of Vallejo worker in a back hoe being hit with rocks by some teenagers. He then drives back to the location at Nebraska and Broadway streets to confront the teens who begin attacking the man. The city worker gets knocked down and eventually a crowd of up to 40 people begin beating the man while he is on the ground.

The victim, a 20-year city employee, was transported to Kaiser Permanente Medical Center Vallejo where was treated for his injuries.

The attack occured all while people cheered in front of another camera from a bystander who shot video. Witnesses finally stepped in to stop the attack.

Police have already identified several suspects in the video, but they are also offering $5,000 for the arrest and conviction of any other suspects who took part in this mob beating.


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