Berkeley, CA-- Two homeless men, Nathan Swor, 23, and James Cockereese, 29, were charged with several crimes each and ultimately pleaded no contest to misdemeanor battery after an incident on March 19 involving two hospitality advisers for the city of Berkeley. After the men had accepted plea deals for probation however, a video surfaced showing that these men were actually the victims of the vicious assault themselves.
The hospitality ambassadors, Jeffrey Bailey and Carmen Francois, had reported the incident to supervisors claiming that they had simply acted in self defense- an allegation virtually impossible to believe after watching Bailey sucker-punching Cocklereese and pummeling him with his fist, as Francois stood by allowing it to happen.
Eventually Swor begins waving a pipe shaped object at the attacker, seemingly in an attempt to get the man to stop beating Cocklereese. This tactic was effective as Bailey becomes distracted with Swor and the violence appears to end.
The biased Berkeley police arrested the two homeless men and not the ambassadors following the assault. The men were brought up on charges of assault with a deadly weapon and making threats. Thankfully a good Samaritan captured and released the footage. The police, realizing their mistake, have asked the District Attorney to look into the video.
According to the Downtown Berkeley website, the staff of approximately sixteen Cleaning and Hospitality Ambassadors regularly patrol and clean to provide a more welcoming and vibrant Downtown Berkeley.
"The goal of the Hospitality Ambassadors is to create a more welcoming downtown environment for all residents, workers, and visitors to Downtown Berkeley. Ambassador staff patrol the Downtown on a regular schedule with a hospitality focus, providing a friendly source of directions, information, and assistance for the residents, visitors, business owners, and the general public," the website reads.
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Bailey was fired immediately after the video was discovered and his partner Francois has been placed on suspension.
The president of the non-profit Block By Block released the following statement:
"This past week an incident occurred between two of our Block-By-Block Ambassadors and a known member of the Berkeley street population. The uncalled-for response by these Ambassadors has angered and appalled us deeply, and we apologize to this person, to the Berkeley community and to its leaders for the actions of these two individuals.
What happened is intolerable. The attacker has been terminated and his partner has been suspended pending an internal investigation. We are also cooperating with law enforcement officials as they continue their own investigation.
We have built our company on the caliber and professionalism of our Ambassadors. We carefully screen any Ambassador candidate to ensure that the best possible individuals—in terms of background, skills and character—are hired to serve our clients. We then train them extensively to respond and to react to a variety of situations and with a cross-section of the business district’s population. Their fundamental charge is to engage all our residents with the highest level of respect and dignity.
Block-By-Block has been the service partner of the Downtown Berkeley Association since 2012. While we are disappointed in the actions of these two people, we and our Berkeley Ambassador team remain committed to serving the Downtown Berkeley Association—and everyone in this community—with the professionalism and respect they deserve."
The footage was discovered and sent to the District Attorney on Wednesday. As of Sunday morning, Bailey has still yet to be charged with a crime.
Many may wonder why someone who we can see was clearly innocent would have accepted a plea deal. Unfortunately , between two and eight percent of convicted felons are innocent people who took plea deals and “ninety-seven percent of federal convictions and ninety-four percent of state convictions are the results of guilty pleas,” P.M. Beers wrote in her recent article, "Why Innocent People Take Plea Deals."
A system cannot fail those it was never meant to protect and sadly our current system leaves few avenues for those who are down and out to defend themselves.
It is currently unclear what, if any, changes this will make to the victim's criminal charges.