Man accused of assault outside The Harvester told police he didn't hit victim as hard as he could
|Shane M. Bell|
The man accused of assault outside The Harvester told police he didn't hit victim as hard as he could.
In statements captured on a police officer's body camera, a man accused of assaulting a fellow bar patron describes being badgered and bothered by the man he later hit.
Shane Bell doesn't deny hitting Scott Baker the night of Aug. 25 outside the Harvester bar on Harvester Avenue, Batavia. At issue in the trial is whether Bell intended to seriously injure Baker.
Bell is charged with assault in the second degree, a Class D felony, which means the defendant intended to cause serious physical injury.
Baker was apparently struck by Bell and fell to the ground, hitting his head on pavement. He was in a coma for a period of time following the incident.
According to Bell's statements captured on the officer's recording, Baker repeatedly pestered Bell and danced some, even closely, with his wife, though Bell said that didn't bother him.
"He just came up to me like a barfly three times and I just gave him a hug," Bell is recorded saying.
Bell also admits to being upset because he believed somebody had stolen his keys from the bar at The Harvester, which was hosting an annual party that day and a lot of people had been at there throughout the day.
Officer Arick Perkins -- then with Batavia PD, now with the Livingston County Sheriff's Office -- was wearing a police department issued body camera when he arrived on scene after the alleged assault was reported. He used it to record some of his initial conversation with Bell.
Bell admits to hitting him, but said he didn't think he hit him hard enough to hurt him seriously.
"I bitch-slapped him," he says at one point, and "I hit him so f---ing soft, it isn't even funny." He also says, "I hit him half-medium."
Later at the police station, Bell brags about being a kickboxer for 16 years and says he could have seriously hurt Baker if he wanted. He claims to have hit Baker with his left hand rather than his right, saying he was right-handed. The camera captures Bell showing his left fist to Perkins.
"Believe me if I wanted to have taken him out earlier, I could have taken him out earlier," Bell tells Perkins.
According to Jolyn Hyland, the first witness called in the trial, Bell came out of the bar shortly after she and her boyfriend pulled up to the parking lot driveway just south of the bar. Hyland said from the passenger side of the vehicle, she was able to observe what happened and hear some of the conversation.
When Bell came out of the bar, Baker, she said, mumbled something Bell.
Bell responded, she said, saying "I'm looking for my keys. You better not f--- with me."
Baker, she said, then threatened Bell, saying he had a knife at home and that he would go home and get it.
Bell, she said, walked across the street and Baker followed.
In the recording, Bell said Baker grabbed his shoulder and he turned around and hit Baker.
Hyland said Bell hit Baker in the face and followed through with the swing of the punch. She said it looked like Bell hit Baker hard and fast.
She heard Baker's head hit the pavement with a crack.
She said she saw a white car heading southbound on Harvester and at that point, Bell grabbed Baker by his legs, she said, and dragged him onto the grass next to the sidewalk.
She said Bell tapped Baker on the face several times, saying, "Wake up. Wake up. It was just one punch."
In the videotape, Bell -- who said he had medic training in the Marines -- said he took Baker's pulse and that it was 85.
When Perkins arrived outside the Harvester, he said he found Baker lying on the ground and observed blood above his right eye.
Det. Pat Corona was called to the scene. In his testimony before the lunch break, District Attorney Lawrence Friedman displayed a number of crime scene photos, including photos of blood on the pavement and on the grass, that Corona authenticated.
The jury was also shown a photo of Baker in the hospital, in intensive care, with a swollen and bruised face.
Friedman then showed a video made at the police station of Bell giving a statement to Corona.
Bell repeats several times that he didn't hit Baker hard. He demonstrates once or twice how he used the back of his open left hand as part of a turning, sweeping motion, and once demonstrates hitting Baker with a closed fist.
Bell's statements are disjointed and he says a number of times that the whole incident isn't really clear in his own mind as to what happened.
At one point, he pulls the back of his tank top shirt to show how Baker grabbed him before he turned around and struck Baker.
Corona will still be on the stand, and there's more of the interview recording for the jury to view, after the lunch break. Billie Owens will post a story about the afternoon of the trial later tonight.