The man who was pepper-sprayed and struck with a baton in a UC Berkeley dormitory after allegedly fighting with police pled not guilty in county court Monday.
According to county court documents, 39-year-old Albert Haedinger was charged with battery with injury on a peace officer, removal of a peace officer’s weapon and resisting arrest for the alleged March 9 incident — a situation that has been described with conflicting accounts.
According to police, two officers encountered Haedinger while they were responding to reports of a possible homeless person in Building 7 of Clark Kerr Campus. When they approached and tried to identify Haedinger in the bathroom, he allegedly became belligerent, requiring the police to use a baton against him and pepper-spray him, police said.
But the way Haedinger tells it, he was coughing his lungs out in a Clark Kerr bathroom stall early in the morning March 9 when he suddenly heard UCPD officers yelling at him to come out and threatening to kick the door down.
In a citizen complaint statement filed with UCPD, Haedinger said he presented his ID to the officers and told them he was staying with a student.
UC Berkeley freshman John Valencia said Haedinger is a guest teacher with Harmony Keepers, an indigenous cultural group to which Valencia also belongs. Valencia said Haedinger came to Berkeley to give a talk at the group’s local chapter in preparation for the Aztec Solar New Year ceremony, which was to be held in San Jose on March 19.
Haedinger said although he cooperated with officers, they restrained him, beat him and pepper-sprayed him in the face. During the altercation, he injured his legs and was taken to a hospital where he received stitches, he said.
However, according to UCPD spokesperson Lt. Eric Tejada, when officers verified Haedinger’s ID, “he punched one of the officers a couple of times” and “very quickly it escalated into a full-blown altercation.”
The conflict then spilled over into a dorm room, where one officer pepper-sprayed Haedinger and another used his baton on him, according to Tejada.
Haedinger said after he reached the dorm room, the officers pepper-sprayed him and he was “beaten to the bone.”
Out of protection, he raised his hand to shield himself from the pepper spray “with no intention of harming either of the officers,” he said in the statement.
However, according to Tejada, Haedinger wrestled the officer’s mace away from him, though the officer was eventually able to get it back.
Still, Haedinger said he thinks the police officer’s actions were unnecessarily rough.
Staff writer Charlie Smith contributed to this report.
Jonathan Tam covers crime.