More than two months after a violent attack on the Baker’s Dozen a cappella group, the San Francisco district attorney filed felony assault charges against two suspects for injuries allegedly inflicted on two members of the group, but did not files charges in the assault of Sharyar Aziz ’10, the most seriously injured member.
San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris announced at a press conference Monday evening that arrest warrants had been issued for Richard Aicardi and Brian Dwyer, both 19, for attacks on William Bailey ’10 and Evan Gogel ’10. But no suspects were charged with the assault on Aziz, who Harris admitted had suffered the most serious injuries. Several people involved in the incident expressed surprise that only two suspects were charged.
Harris, who called the assault a “cowardly” group attack on “innocent victims,” charged Aicardi and Dwyer with felony assault and battery, which together carry maximum prison sentences of between seven and eight years. Although Bailey’s injuries were not mentioned in most press accounts of the incident until Monday, Harris said he was punched in the face during the brawl. Gogel suffered a concussion and two black eyes after allegedly being kicked repeatedly while lying on the ground. On Monday night, Bailey declined to comment and Gogel could not be reached for comment.
Harris said at the press conference that she is eager to prosecute the two men involved in the attacks on Gogel and Bailey and that is was concerned about the “grave level of physical injury” caused to Aziz, whose jaw was broken in two places. After facing repeated questions from the media following her statement, Harris reiterated that she is currently unable to prosecute anyone in connection with crimes against Aziz, as the DA’s office does not have enough evidence to support an identification of his possible assailants.
“We are actively looking forward to any evidence that develops in the future, and we anticipate charges in that incident if that evidence becomes available,” Harris said.
But Whitney Leigh, the attorney representing Gogel and Aziz, said although the San Francisco Police Department had requested charges be filed against five persons who were positively identified as the attackers, the District Attorney decided not to charge Marino Peradotto and James and Michael Aicardi, Richard Aicardi’s brothers, with a crime. Leigh said the office’s refusal to prosecute the three alleged assailants based on a lack of evidence is “ridiculous.”
“The DA’s contention that there was insufficient evidence in these cases is just not true,” he said.
The assault took place on New Year’s Day outside of a private house party thrown in the a cappella group’s honor during its West Coast tour. Witnesses said over a dozen assailants violently attacked the Yale students while they were leaving the party. Members of the singing group sustained injuries ranging from concussions and sprained ankles to black eyes and other bodily injuries.
Aziz ’10, who is still recovering from his injuries, said he was taken aback by the District Attorney’s refusal to issue an arrest warrant for the assault on him. Aziz said he doubts that any additional evidence would change Harris’s mind.
“I certainly thought there was enough evidence,” he said. “I don’t have too much faith in the DA any more, and I can’t expect that much more will be done after this point.”
But Baker’s Dozen Business Manager Zach Bucknoff ’08 said his group, which is performing a morning concert in New York today, welcomed the District Attorney’s decision.
“We’re encouraged that charges have finally been filed,” he said. “We’re certainly encouraged that substantial progress has been made in ensuring that justice is served in this case.”
Bucknoff declined to comment on whether he would have liked to see Aziz’s assailants prosecuted.
During the press conference, Harris was asked by a reporter about the circumstances surrounding the instigation of the incident.
“Let me make it clear,” said Harris, who was widely criticized along with the San Francisco Police Department for hesitating to initially press charges. “I don’t care if this case involves people from Yale University or if it happens on Yale Street in the Excelsior. All cases will be treated the same.”
Neither Dwyer nor Aicardi were in custody at the time of Harris’ announcement. Bail for the two alleged assailants is set at $80,000 and $120,000 respectively.