The mood at Dodger Stadium for visiting San Francisco Giants fans was "pretty tense, pretty hostile," the night in 2011 when Bryan Stow was attacked in the parking lot, testified a friend who had accompanied Stow to the ballpark.
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"Food was thrown at us the whole game," said Jeff Bradford, testifying Tuesday as a witness in Stow's suit alleging the Dodgers organization failed to provide adequate security, and seeking tens of millions of dollars to cover the costs of his medical care.
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Another witness called by Stow's team, a retired Los Angeles Sheriff's sergeant who worked security for the Dodgers, also criticized specific aspects of stadium security, though he acknowledged he had never seen the formal security plan.
Bradford and Stow, both paramedics, had driven down from the Bay Area to Los Angeles with two fellow Giants fans, Corey Maciel and Matthew Lee. They sat in the right field pavilion at what was the 2011 season opener, and with the Dodgers-Giants rivarly, it attracted a capacity crowd of nearly 56,000.
Quetioned by Stow attorney Christopher Aumais, Bradford testified that throughout the game, he never saw a security guard or police officer until after Stow was attacked. Under cross examination, he acknowledged the possibility guards and police were present, but he simply did not notice them.
The harrassment never got to the point that they sought out security, testified Bradford, in part because he figured that would make them only more of a target. He said he did not feel unsafe inside the stadium until near the end of the game, and then out into the parking area.
Two Rialto men, Louie Sanchez and Marvin Norwood, accepted criminal responsibility for the attacks in February and received prison sentences. Dana Fox, lead attorney for the then-ownership of the Dodgers under Frank McCourt, told jurors in his opening statement that responsibility for what happened belongs to the perpetrators and Stow himself.
Under cross examination, Fox brought out that Bradford and Stow had consumed a significant amount of beer, both before and during the game, in the range of 84 to 112 ounces.
Bradford testified his group never did anything to antagonize the home crowd. The Dodgers attorney challenged this.
Fox showed jurors a photograph of Bradford before entering the stadium making a rude gesture at the "Welcome to Dodger Stadium" sign.
Bradford was asked about an incident late in the game when Stow was approached by a man named Juan Banda, who took offense at something Stow had said. Banda is expected to testify, as he did during his deposition, that Stow said, "I would rather eat my own feces than a Dodger Dog." Bradford said he did not think Stow meant that to be overheard.
"He was feeling the effects of the alcohol?" Fox asked Bradford.
"Yes," Bradford replied.
The sister of one of the convicted men, Dorene Sanchez, 34, testified Monday that both her brother Louie and Stow appeared to be drunk. Under questioning, she said they were at their car in the parking lot when Stow and his friends walked past. She testified to hearing Stow say, "I hope they code," which is paramedic-speak for having a heart attack, and told her brother and then-fiance Norwood that the men in the Giants apparel were trash talking.
Louie Sanchez then challenged Lee and Bradford, but the situation de-escalated. Stow's group continued walking, and by all accounts, the incident appeared to be over. Several minutes later, according to Dorene Sanchez and Bradford, Sanchez and Norwood ran to catch up. Bradford said he was knocked down by a punch from behind.
Another punch apparently knocked out Stow on his feet, and he fell backwards without making any effort to cushion the impact, and the back of his head struck the pavement with what witnesses described as a "sickening thud."
Also testifying Tuesday was Stow's sister, Erin Collins. She described him as hard-working, a great father and "the life of the party," before his injuries. Now, more than three years later, he requires constant care while he is a wake and monitoring even when he sleeps, she said.
In addition, Stow's legal team called retired Sheriff's Sgt. Neill Murchison, who testified he served as the head of the personal security team for McCourt on opening night. Murchison said in his opinion, security arrangements failed to relocate sufficient personnel to the parking area at game's end. He also criticized lighting in the parking area as insufficient.
The Dodgers' attorney challenged Murchison's conclusions, and got him to acknowledge he had never seen the security plan developed for opening day by the Los Angeles Police Department.
Murchison was tripped up when he testified he had begun working security for the Dodgers in 2009. Fox showed the court a copies of Murchison's application and work agreement, both dated March of 2010.
Bryan Stow Case: Timeline, Key Events
For the majority of the day, Bradford occupied the witness stand.
Bradford testified he did not see Stow being hit, but did witness him falling after the attack.
"I just saw him going hard to the ground with his hands up behind him," Bradford said. "It seemed to me he was unconscious."
Bradford said he did not see Norwood and Sanchez kick Stow. But he testified he knew his friend was in trouble as soon as he walked up and looked at him.
"He was showing major signs and symptoms of major head trauma," Bradford said
Bradford said Sanchez assaulted him moments before Stow was attacked.
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"I got sucker-punched in the chin," Bradford said. "It took me over on my backside."
Bradford said he collected himself and threw some souvenir cups at Norwood.
Bradford said that another member of his group, Matthew Lee, was also struck in the cheek by someone in the Norwood-Sanchez group. He said that attack occurred before he and Stow were attacked and that he and his companions tried to avoid any further trouble.
"We were walking with a purpose," Bradford said. "We were trying to get away from that atmosphere."
Bradford said the lighting in the parking lot was dim and that he did not see any private security or Los Angeles police officers in the area. He said the first people to respond to their call for help for Stow were in polo shirts.
On Monday, another witness said she did not see any security in the area and did not witness anyone in Stow's group raise his hands as if to invite Norwood and Sanchez to confront them, contradicting the account given defense attorneys by another witness who will testify later in the trial.
Sanchez, 31, and Norwood, 33, pleaded guilty in January to carrying out the attack on Stow. Sanchez was sentenced to eight years in prison, while Norwood was sentenced to four years. They are also both facing a federal weapons charge that could earn them up to 10 years in a federal lockup.
McCourt and the Dodgers have filed a cross-complaint against Norwood and Sanchez.
Another Dodger fan, Carlos Adame, said he saw Sanchez throwing peanuts and also witnessed the confrontation he had with the couple in San Francisco apparel.
"I don't remember seeing security,'' Adame said.
In other testimony on Monday, Dodger Stadium chief electrician Michael Jones said the illumination in lot 2 that night was mainly provided by flood lights placed atop five poles, and conceded that no upgrading had taken place for nearly 30 years.
He said the stadium parking lots also are partially illuminated by additional lights mounted on the back of the elevated standards used to irradiate the stadium field.