PASADENA — A community activist credited with helping keep the peace in Pasadena during the Los Angeles riots has been ordered to stand trial on charges that she assaulted a Pasadena police officer during a melee in Washington Park in July.
Cheryl Hubbard, a member of the Pasadena Arts Commission, is charged with one felony count of assault with a deadly weapon and one misdemeanor count of battery on a police officer for allegedly punching Officer Kelly Evans in the face, then striking him repeatedly with his own baton during a subsequent struggle.
In a preliminary hearing last Wednesday afternoon, Evans testified that Hubbard initiated the physical confrontation by punching him in the face without provocation, shortly after he and officers arrived at the park to quell a disturbance. When Evans tried to arrest her after the attack, she resisted and a violent struggle ensued, the officer testified.
"She was trying to fight and escape me at the same time," Evans said.
But Hubbard's attorney, Joe Hopkins, said Evans initiated the fight, and made up the story about Hubbard's punching him to protect his job.
"Why in the world would she haul off and hit him for nothing?" Hopkins said after the hearing. "He's lying."
The lawyer characterized Evans as an officer who was out of control and continued to beat his client long after she was subdued, finally having to be pulled off of her by another officer.
In the wake of the incident, black community members accused police of brutality and excessive force in subduing Hubbard and other members of the crowd.
A Pasadena Police Department internal investigation of the incident is continuing, said Lt. Rick Law, the department's community relations officer.
The brawl occurred the night of July 19. A group of about 300 people were gathered in the park at 600 Washington Blvd. for a tribute to a youth slain in a local drive-by shooting. Evans and his partner, Officer Richard Vindiola, responded after they were flagged down by a passer-by who reported a fight at the park.
Evans testified Wednesday that when he arrived, Hubbard approached his car and said: "It's a black thing. Mind your own (obscenities) business or I'm going to call (Police Lt.) Ricky Law and get you fired."
Evans said he ignored Hubbard and approached the park fence to assess "whether it was a fight that was dwindling or a fight that was going to escalate."
As he watched the group, Evans testified, Hubbard punched him on the left cheek, then started to walk away. The officer testified that he called her back but that she did not heed his instructions, so he grabbed her shoulder to try to detain her.
During the ensuing struggle, Evans said, he struck Hubbard "two or three times" in the legs so that she fell to the ground.
"I was trying to pin her to the ground with my foot and trying to handcuff her, and the crowd was coming towards me," he testified.
Numerous members of the crowd attacked, began hitting him and he fell to the ground, Evans testified. At one point, he said, "I blacked out." When he came to, moments later, the officer said Hubbard had grabbed his baton and was striking him with it.
"She was striking me in the head and the upper torso," Evans testified, adding that he was still being hit by others in the crowd.
Evans, still surrounded, said he drew his gun after hearing gunfire in another part of the park. When he pulled out the weapon, Hubbard "started trying to pull the gun away," so he "jammed it into her stomach," the officer testified.
After hearing the testimony, Municipal Judge Judson W. Morris Jr. ruled there was sufficient evidence to require Hubbard to stand trial. Co-defendant Patrick Williams, 26, of Pasadena, accused of hitting Evans with a beer can, was also ordered to stand trial on one count of assault on a peace officer.
Hubbard was recognized by Pasadena city officials for her work during the riots last April, when she patrolled local hot spots and urged restless youths to go home and avoid causing trouble.