Early Sunday, April 24, a visitor was arrested for trespassing and failure to comply after Public Safety officers attempted to break up a physical fight between the visitor and his friend, both of them non-University students. It was later determined that one of them was a minor. The fight and subsequent arrest occurred in front of 29 Miles, the senior house where a party was being held.
At 1:38 a.m., Public Safety officers DePaul Avant, Samuel Marquez, and Fred West arrived at the house to perform what Director of Public Safety Scott Rohde referred to as a “party check,” making sure that the house was not over-occupied and that no party guests were in physical danger. In the front yard of the house, two of the officers observed the two visitors shoving and hitting one another. They recognized one of the participants, who was not available for comment, in the fight from previous incidents of crime on campus.
“He’s been previously involved in some criminal activity on Wesleyan property,” Rohde said. “He’s been spoken to, warned a number of times, and was actually issued a no-trespass letter, so he was informed he’s not to be on the property, [but] clearly was.”
The officers ordered the visitor to leave. When he did not comply, the friend with whom he had fought (who declined to comment), as well as a student, encouraged him to leave. According to Rohde, he refused and reinitiated his physical fight with his friend. Then, the officers attempted to break up the brawl.
“The officers separated them, tried to keep the peace between those two,” Rohde said. “Then aggression essentially turned on the PSafe officer.”
According to Rohde, the individual who had previously trespassed on campus began to attack two of the officers, elbowing one and leaving both with minor injuries.
“He was clearly out of control,” Rohde said. “Smelled of intoxicants, and at that point, based on his aggressive activity, the fact that he began fighting with Public Safety, and the fact that he’s not allowed property, was given an opportunity to leave peacefully [and] chose not to, the police were called.”
According to Rohde, the individual did not respond to verbal commands and was therefore restrained until the police arrived.
One witness, a student who attended the party at 29 Miles and chose to remain anonymous, spoke to the two visitors at length prior to the fight and Public Safety’s arrival. They told him that they had both been accepted to the University; one planned to attend next year, while the other was still deciding.
“I saw the three PSafe officers with the [one of the suspects] up against the car punching him in the stomach [repeatedly],” he said. “And I ran outside, and they’re driving him to the ground, and cuffing him. And I was like, ‘No, I know him. He’s a pre-frosh.’ And one of them said, ‘No he’s not. We know him very well.’ And then they cuffed him. Later, the police had come and they were putting him into a cop car.”
Rohde rejected the suggestion that excess force was used against the visitor.
“No one has suggested that or reported that to us,” he said. “Zero. I don’t have those reports. Secondly, unless someone was really present to see the whole event, what precipitated it, the level of physical aggression before and during the attempt to control the person, it’s very easy to say something without knowing the totality of the circumstances. What I can tell you is that this individual was strong and actively resistant.”