FRESNO, California (KGPE) – Fresno City Councilmember Miguel Arias was cited and released for misdemeanor battery Tuesday following a confrontation with demonstrators outside his home.
Lt. Anthony Dewall the Fresno Police Department said they were called to a disturbance between Arias and a group of protesters taking place outside the councilmember’s home. Dewall said the department, along with the City Attorney, reviewed videos taken by demonstrators.
“We determined that there was sufficient evidence Councilmember Arias committed a battery on three separate individuals at that location,” Dewall said.
But Fresno attorney David Mugridge said based on the video he saw, Arias was not at fault for one simple reason.
“You can protect your homestead, wherever you live,” he said.
He said Arias had the right to defend his home and the group did not need to enter it to cross the line.
“He also has possessory right to the stairway where I saw this happen. In other words, people have the right to walk up and say ‘Hey I’m going to deliver a package’ or something like that and knock on your door. But he has the right to say ‘Thank you very much I don’t want to talk to you. Leave my property.’ Even if it’s your hotel room or your apartment or whatever,” Mugridge said.
Arias said he is familiar with the protesters, and he acted in defense of himself and family.
“These are people who are known to be Second Amendment advocates and who have made threats against my personal safety in the past. So I was not going to take any chance of letting them come within ten feet of my kids,” Arias said.
Mugridge also says the demonstrators would have needed permission from the property owner to be there, as well as the city.
“They could not have given a permit to allow them to protest on the steps of the councilman’s house for example, on the stairway, on the grass underneath his window. None of that, because that’s private property and the city could not have authorized them to do that,” he said.
Dewall said the the whole incident, including the location, will be examined.
“The entire case will be reviewed by the District Attorney’s Office. That’s probably something they’re going to take into consideration. Being that there is an apartment complex with multiple units and there are some community areas. It makes the case a little more difficult,” he said.
Police say Arias will be ordered to appear in court. At this time, officers say no one has pursued trespassing charges against the demonstrators.