One of four men on trial for an alleged assault on a so-called Good Samaritan during Vancouver’s Stanley Cup riot testified Thursday that he was only trying to pull away a friend, who had joined in on the beating, but wasn’t involved himself.
Carlos Barahona Villeda is among a mob of people accused of attacking Robert MacKay, who was later praised by police for trying to defend the Bay department store from looters on June 15, 2011.
But Barahona Villeda said he was pushed into the mob, and while a friend of his did join the assault, he said he doesn’t remember touching MacKay himself.
“When (MacKay) got into the crowd, I got pushed from behind and I don’t know if I touched him, but I tried to stop people form pushing from behind,” Barahona Villeda told a provincial court judge as he was cross-examined.
“I was trying to get my friend Armando.”
Crown prosecutor Rod Flannigan, however, alleged Barahona Villeda hit MacKay twice.
Barahona Villeda, as well as Ioannis Kangles, Michael MacDonald, and David Leonati, are charged with assault and for participating in a riot. All four people have pleaded not guilty.
The court heard that Barahona Villeda was in downtown Vancouver with several friends when the riot broke out following the Vancouver Canucks’ loss to the Boston Bruins.
He testified that he was outside the Bay department store at one point that night, watching people destroy windows and break into the store.
That’s when MacKay stepped forward to protect the storefront.
Barahona Villeda said MacKay grabbed his friend, Armando Garcia, who was standing in front of a broken window, and tossed him aside. Then someone walked towards MacKay, holding a metal pole, and MacKay yanked the pole away, the court heard.
“(MacKay) comes towards where I am, towards the crowd, and he almost hit me with a pole,” Barahona Villeda said. “He goes into the crowd and people started pushing and throwing punches.”
Garcia was convicted of participating in a riot and assault and is awaiting sentencing, according to court records.
During Thursday’s hearing, the court saw video footage of the assault.
Barahona Villeda is seen wearing a blue and white striped T-shirt and moving among a sea of people. At one point, Barahona Villeda appears to be behind MacKay with his right arm up, bent at the elbow and his hand clenched into a fist.
“You’ve got your hand up and I’m saying to you, sir, that you’re about there to hit Mr. MacKay,” asked Flannigan.
“No,” Barahona Villeda answered.
The video then shows MacKay being attacked by the group. Someone’s arm, in a blue and white-striped T-shirt, is seen hitting the back of MacKay’s head, though the attacker’s face is not apparent.
“That’s your arm. So you did come into contact with Mr. MacKay, right?” asked Flannigan.
Barahona Villeda answered it would seem that way in the video, but “from my recollection, I don’t remember.”
He also denied enjoying the violence and lawlessness that broke out in downtown Vancouver that night. The property damage and looting caused nearly $4-million in damages.
MacKay testified earlier in the trial that he was severely beaten by a mob after he tried to protect the Bay from people breaking in and stealing things.