Almanac

News - February 6, 2013

Former 49er accused of assault in Menlo Park

by Dave Boyce

A jury trial is set for April in San Mateo County Superior Court for former San Francisco 49er offensive tackle and Palo Alto resident Kwame Harris. San Mateo County prosecutors have charged Mr. Harris with felony assault resulting in great bodily injury in a fight with a former romantic partner in August 2012 at Su Hong To Go, which serves Chinese takeout food at 630 Menlo Ave. in Menlo Park.

The alleged victim, Southern California resident Dmitri Geier, is suing Mr. Harris in civil court in San Mateo County over the incident. According to the civil complaint dated Oct. 24, 2012, Mr. Harris allegedly punched Mr. Geier in the face several times and with "full force," leaving him with broken bones around an eye socket, damage that required a steel plate to repair.

Sacramento-based attorney Alin Cintean, who is defending Mr. Harris in the criminal case, said that Mr. Geier hit Mr. Harris first and that Mr. Harris made a "reasonable response" to being "wrongfully assaulted." It was, Mr. Cintean added, "a verbal confrontation and escalated from there. Mr. Geier hit my client."

If convicted, Mr. Harris could spend up to nine years in state prison, Assistant District Attorney Albert A. Serrato told the Almanac. Prosecutors offered Mr. Harris a plea agreement, but he rejected it, Mr. Cintean said. Mr. Harris is out of custody on $75,000 bail. A trial is set for 8:45 a.m. on April 29.

According to the civil complaint and accounts by prosecutors, the incident began over a to-go container of rice that Mr. Harris and Mr. Geier were to share before Mr. Harris drove Mr. Geier to San Francisco International Airport. An argument ensued after Mr. Geier poured soy sauce into the open lid of the rice container and Mr. Harris objected, Mr. Serrato said.

After several minutes of arguing, Mr. Harris allegedly told Mr. Geier to find another way to the airport and that he (Mr. Harris) planned to throw Mr. Geier's belongings out of his car. Mr. Geier accepted this change in plans, prosecutors said, adding that he would retrieve his belongings from the vehicle. But on the way out of the restaurant, Mr. Harris allegedly began pushing Mr. Geier and trying to pull down his pants, accusing Mr. Geier of having stolen his underwear.

Mr. Harris is 6 feet 7 inches tall and, in his playing days, weighed 310 pounds, according to Pro-Football-Reference.com. The civil complaint describes Mr. Geier as "much smaller."

Once outside, Mr. Harris allegedly grabbed Mr. Geier by the front of his shirt and punched him several times on the arms. Mr. Geier punched back, managing to connect with Mr. Harris' face perhaps three times. Mr. Harris then allegedly punched Mr. Geier in the face several times and Mr. Geier fell to the ground.

Mr. Harris removed Mr. Geier's belongings from his car and drove away. Mr. Geier managed to hail a cab and was treated at O'Connor Hospital in San Jose.

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