Man Charged with Tear Gas/Hate Crime Against Fresno Protesters Enters Plea - GV Wire - Explore. Explain. Expose
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Man Charged with Tear Gas/Hate Crime Against Fresno Protesters Enters Plea

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Brian Turner pleaded not guilty to tear gas and hate crime charges stemming from a May 15 incident at a Fresno protest. (Screen Capture)
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A man accused of using tear gas on three men during a Palestinian protest in north Fresno last May plead not guilty at an arraignment Thursday.

Brian Turner, 62, is facing three counts of unlawfully using tear gas with three hate crime enhancements during a May 15 incident as he was driving home and past the demonstration.

Turner was driving westbound on Nees and stopped for a red light at the Blackstone intersection, where protest took place. A car stopped beside him, where the occupants allegedly asked if he supported the Palestinian cause. Turner said no.

One alleged victim recorded video of part of the incident and posted it on social media. It appears to show one protester get out of a car approaching Turner. As he does, Turner responded by spraying tear gas before driving away.

Short Arraignment

The arraignment lasted less than three minutes. Turner did not physically appear in the courtroom in front of fill-in Judge Wayne Ellison. Instead, Turner entered his plea via Zoom at the office of his attorney Marc Kapetan. The case will return to court Sept. 28.

Kapetan said the district attorney’s office erred in charging his client with the hate crime enhancements.

“I think because of the nature of the protest, the district attorney’s made the assumption that my client’s actions may have been related to the topic, but there’s nothing further from the truth,” Kapetan said.

Kapetan said he is likely to use self-defense as an argument against the charges, but would not go into more detail.

“In looking at the case and looking at the facts, one of my alternatives is to have the People try to prove what they’ve alleged. I just don’t know if they could get there. I think this guy has had a very clean, upstanding life. He is a great citizen and I was driving on his way home from dropping dinner off at his mother’s house and drove into a situation that he did not ask for and he did not plan,” Kapetan said.

If convicted of all charges, Turner could face six years, four months in prison.

Brian Turner (upper right, with attorney Marc Kapetan) pleads not guilty to pepper spray and hate crime charges. (GV Wire/Screen Capture)

 

Curiosity drives David Taub. The award-winning journalist might be shy, but feels mighty with a recorder in his hand. He doesn't see it his job to "hold public officials accountable," but does see it to provide readers (and voters) the information needed to make intelligent choices. Taub has been honored with several writing awards from the California News Publishers Association. He's just happy to have his stories read. Joining GV Wire in 2016, Taub covers politics, government and elections, mainly in the Fresno/Clovis area. He also writes columns about local eateries (Appetite for Fresno), pro wrestling (Off the Bottom Rope), and media (Media Man). Prior to joining the online news source, Taub worked as a radio producer for KMJ and PowerTalk 96.7 in Fresno. He also worked as an assignment editor for KCOY-TV in Santa Maria, California, and KSEE-TV in Fresno. He has also worked behind the scenes for several sports broadcasts, including the NCAA basketball tournament, and the Super Bowl. When not spending time with his family, Taub loves to officially score Fresno Grizzlies games. Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, Taub is a die-hard Giants and 49ers fan. He graduated from the University of Michigan with dual degrees in communications and political science. Go Blue! You can contact David at 559-492-4037 or at Send an Email

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