Friday, October 21, 2016

WSU student who knocked Trump supporter's phone out of his hand could be charged

Posted By on Fri, Oct 21, 2016 at 5:41 PM

click to enlarge Fernando Reyes standing in the middle of a crowd of protesters holding a Trump flag and a phone - WILSON CRISCIONE
  • Wilson Criscione
  • Fernando Reyes standing in the middle of a crowd of protesters holding a Trump flag and a phone

On Wednesday, a man stood in the middle of the crowd at Washington State University's campus holding a Donald Trump flag and a phone. Surrounding him, protesters held up signs and shouted in opposition to the 'Trump Wall' that was erected by WSU College Republicans.   

The man in the middle of the crowd is named Fernando Reyes. He was recording the scene for a live video on Facebook.

More than an hour and a half into the video, one of the protesters, a student, shoved Reyes' phone away from him. When Reyes found him again about 10 minutes later, the student shoved the phone away again. 

Now, that student could be charged with a gross misdemeanor.

Assistant WSU Police Chief Steve Hansen says the case will be forwarded to the Whitman County Prosecutor's Office with recommended charges of fourth-degree assault and third-degree malicious mischief against the student, whom Hansen declined to name because he was not arrested. 

You can watch Reyes' nearly two-hour long Facebook video below. At about the 1:43:30 mark, you can see the video go black as the student apparently tries to knock Reyes' phone out of his hands. It happens again at about 1:53:30. 

The man who shoves the phone away can be heard saying "Hey, get your phone out —" before the screen goes black. Reyes then calls for security, and the students surrounding him ask Reyes if he can go back up to the Trump Wall with the other Trump supporters. 

"If you want to feel safe, go back up there," one woman says. "That's where you feel safe, right?"

Reyes declines, asserting that it's a public campus and he can stand where he wants. Another woman says, "I'm going to ask you as nice as I possibly can: Can you please just go to that side of the tape? Because I don't want any more conflict down here. We're just trying to be peaceful."

Reyes again refuses. "I have the freedom to stand where I want to stand. It's a public campus. I'm standing here. I'm not talking to anyone. I'm not attacking anyone. I'm not debating. I'm just standing here."

A few minutes later, Reyes finds the student who knocked the phone out of his hand. "Oh, hey, here's the guy who hit me. What's up?" The guy tells him to get the phone out of his face, shoves the camera, and Reyes calls security. The student was then escorted out. 

Hansen, with WSU police, says the fourth-degree assault charge comes from the student hitting Reyes' hand as he knocked away the phone. Whitman County Prosecutors will decide whether or not to officially charge the student. 

Hansen said no other altercations were reported.

I caught up to Reyes shortly after this happened and — though he wouldn't give me permission to record our interview — he told me he's 22 years old, Hispanic and a son of legal immigrants. He said he is not a student at WSU, he just came to the protest to support the Trump Wall and the WSU College Republicans. 

"It's a public campus," Reyes said. "I'm allowed to stand where I want to." 
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