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UCLA REPORT

Manning Builds a Defense

September 18, 2002|STEVE HENSON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Bruin cornerback Ricky Manning has no intention of avoiding felony prosecution by pleading to a lesser misdemeanor charge, his attorney said Tuesday.

Manning, charged with assault stemming from an April 24 incident outside a Westwood bar, is building a criminal defense and considering civil action against Bryan Herbert, 34, and Seth Spiker, 26.

Manning and co-defendant Tremaine Mitchell, brother of Philadelphia Eagle and former UCLA receiver Freddie Mitchell, have pleaded not guilty. Manning is scheduled to appear Oct. 16 at a preliminary hearing.

Daniel Davis, Manning's attorney, believes there are discrepancies in the version of events Herbert and Spiker reported to authorities and that Manning was responding to racial epithets when the fight erupted outside Madison's Neighborhood Grill in Westwood.

"I don't intend to dispose of this case with any plea," Davis said. "As a college football player with a bright future, Ricky is not willing to have any blemish on his record.

"The evidence I have collected shows that [Herbert and Spiker] were highly intoxicated and making racial remarks to Ricky and Tremaine inside the bar."

Davis said he has interviewed witnesses that include Madison's employees.

L.A. Police Department investigators did not seek statements from Manning before his arrest Aug. 27. The police report reflects only the statements of Herbert and Spiker, both of whom work as security guards at the Hollywood Athletic Club.

"There was an opportunity in the early stages of the investigation for the police to say, 'Let's go out and ask the people who are being accused,' " Davis said. "That was not done. The police took the first version as the premise of the case, then let time pass. Not only did Ricky Manning lose out, the prosecution lost out as well."

Herbert and Spiker told police that Manning and Mitchell waited outside the bar and assaulted them in the parking lot. Although neither man sought medical attention until the next afternoon, Herbert suffered a facial injury and Spiker suffered a concussion, two black eyes and broken teeth.

But Davis believes the charge is baseless and that Manning's reputation has been damaged.

"Ricky has said he does not want to sue anybody," he said. "But he is suffering the stigma of going through a prosecution when he was not the aggressive assailant. We are sorry anybody was hurt. But it was not egged on by my client."

*

Coaches put the Bruins through more tackling drills than normal Tuesday because Colorado is expected to run the ball. "We had a real physical practice to prepare for that," linebacker Spencer Havner said.... Defensive tackle Steve Morgan participated in drills Tuesday but remains questionable because of a sprained knee.

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