Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 7 / 15 February 2018

Trial in alleged Pink Saturday beating underway in SF

A trial involving a gay man who was allegedly beaten on Pink Saturday is underway.

Ray Tilton shortly after the incident in June

Ray Tilton, 47,  (pictured at left) testified this week that he was shoved to the ground, punched, and kicked outside 440 Castro early Saturday morning, June 26 – the day before San Francisco’s LGBT Pride Parade and celebration.

In opening statements Tuesday, December 14, three of the attorneys for the four defendants said inconsistencies in Tilton and his friends’ statements made them unreliable. They also strongly suggested Tilton and the others had been too drunk to accurately recall what had happened. (The fourth attorney didn’t make an opening statement.)

The defendants – Otis Cooley, 28, of Emeryville; Derek Price, 27, of San Leandro; Laselle Manning, 31, of Mesa, California; and Deonsay Roberts, 19 – have each pleaded not guilty to a misdemeanor battery charge.

Tilton, who was Mr. San Francisco Leather in 1990 and lives in Santa Rosa, testified said that he and his friends left for the South of Market neighborhood from the Castro area around 9:30 p.m. on June 25, following a plan to do five drinks and five shots in five bars. He said they got to 440 at around 1:30 a.m., where he had half a beer.

He said, “I was certainly not sober. … But out of my head drunk? No.”

Tilton said soon after they arrived, as the bar was closing, he and his friends were out front socializing when he heard his friend Barry Rogers say, “Did you see that? Somebody tried to yank my chain,” referring to a wallet chain.

He testified that he told Rogers he hadn’t seen what had happened, then “in a flash,” Roberts, who’d been passing by, turned around and punched his friend Michael Cooley.

Tilton, who weighs 250 pounds and is 6 feet, said that he tried to step between the two, but someone grabbed him and shoved him to the ground. He said he then felt as if someone was holding their knee on his back, and he was punched and kicked in the face, head, sides, and back.

He said he was face down and tried to turn his head from side to side to deflect the blows. Most of what he saw was fists and shoes, he said, but he added that the fists belonged to all four defendants. Tilton said he heard “nothing in particular” during the melee.

“It felt like it last forever,” but at the same time, it was “brief,” said Tilton.

He said the punching and kicking stopped and a manager at 440 Castro brought him into the bar. Feeling “disoriented” and “confused,” he soon left the bar with his friends and went to Michael Cooley’s apartment nearby. Tilton said he didn’t know why he didn’t go to the hospital.

“I think I was in shock,” he said

They left Cooley’s apartment and headed to Rogers’ and Arne Valle’s home, where Tilton had planned to stay for the night. Tilton said that as he and his friends walked up 17th Street, they saw the defendants. He recalled asking them if they were going to beat him up again.

The four followed Tilton and his friends to Orphan Andy’s, near 17th and Market streets, where they took refuge, said Tilton. There, Valle called 911 while the defendants sat at a table at Jane Warner Plaza, which is adjacent to the all-night diner.

Police and an ambulance soon arrived, and Tilton has said that he identified all four defendants on the spot. They were cited for misdemeanor battery and released

All four defendants are black, while Tilton and the majority of the jurors appear to be white. None of the jurors appears to be black. In court Tuesday, defendants Roberts and Cooley sported matching magenta fauxhawks.

Samuel Lasser, who’s representing Manning, said Tilton and his friends “were all drunk,” and the jury would need to consider “how drunk you think they were, and how drunk they say they were.”

During her opening statement Tuesday, Assistant District Attorney Lilly Nguyen said what happened to Tilton was different from a bar fight, “where fists are flying” and it’s unclear what’s going on.

“This was a beating,” she said.

San Francisco Superior Court Judge Ronald Albers has said he expects the trial to be completed by Wednesday, December 22.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, December 16, 2010 @ 1:05 pm PST
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