The Isla Vista Foot Patrol released a police report yesterday detailing the incident that resulted in the arrest of Associated Students President Cervin Morris on Friday, Nov. 12.
The report included officers’ accounts of their investigation after they responded to a report of a fight at the Penthouse Apartments at 6621 Abrego Rd., as well as statements from several witnesses. Police, who said they were not informed that Morris is the A.S. president until after he was in custody, described Morris as uncooperative during his arrest. The report also stated Morris was in possession of a fake ID and smelled strongly of alcohol at the time he was searched and taken into custody.
Morris and the two injured men declined to comment Monday on the report, but Morris told the Daily Nexus on Sunday after his release that alcohol was not a factor in the events prior to his arrest.
Lt. Sol Linver of the IVFP said the deputies were not aware that Morris was the A.S. president until someone in the crowd informed them as they were placing him in the patrol car. He said the arrest was handled like any other alleged assault would be, and he said the large number of witnesses make it a fairly clear cut case.
“The laws are the same for everyone,” Linver said. “If you hit someone in the head with a beer bottle, you’re going to have to face the consequences.”
According to the police report, officers arrived at the apartment building at 11:45 p.m. and were advised by several bystanders that someone needed help on the third floor. From the parking lot, the deputies could see that the window of one of the third-floor apartments was broken, and a people on the landing in front of the apartment were yelling at someone inside the apartment through the shattered window.
The deputies climbed the stairs to the third floor and contacted a man who was leaning against the railing on the landing, bleeding profusely from an injury to his head, police said. According to the report, the man, identified as 20-year-old Matthew Yerbic, told police he and Morris had been wrestling for fun on the landing in front of Morris’ apartment when Morris became agitated that he was losing the mock fight.
Yerbic told police that Morris then went into his apartment and retrieved a glass beer bottle, came back out and punched Yerbic’s friend Steven Pacatte, also 20, squarely in the nose. He said he asked Morris why he punched Pacatte, at which point Morris allegedly hit Yerbic over the head with the beer bottle.
Yerbic, who told police he has been one of Morris’ neighbors for about three months, said he then walked to his apartment to avoid further conflict, and Morris went back inside.
According to the police report, Yerbic said he did not want the police to do anything about the incident, and initially refused medical treatment for his injuries. Yerbic later agreed to be taken to Goleta Valley Cottage Hospital, where he received seven staples to close the lacerations to his head, police said.
When officers contacted Pacatte, who was bleeding from his nose at the time, he gave a similar account of the incident. According to the report, Pacatte said he was watching the two men wrestle when Morris got mad and went into the apartment because Yerbic “showed him up.”
Like Yerbic, Pacatte said Morris came back outside, walked up to him and punched him in the face, then hit Yerbic in the head with the beer bottle. Pacatte chose not to press charges against Morris, and declined medical attention for his bloody nose.
Though contacted Monday night, both Yerbic and Pacatte declined to comment on the incident.
The report stated that deputies knocked on the door of Morris’ apartment and were met by two men who said they did not live there. The officers ordered them to sit on the couch while they completed a search of the residence. The report stated that a deputy found Morris and two women sitting in a back room and ordered them to join the others in the living room.
The officers then proceeded to question several other witnesses in the area. The four people who were with Morris inside his apartment claimed to have arrived just before police and denied witnessing the incident. Yerbic, however, said they were present at the time of the incident and saw the alleged crime occur.
The three other witnesses cited in the report gave similar statements to those of Yerbic and Pacatte, with small variations to the sequence of events.
In contrast to the accounts given by Yerbic and Pacatte, police said two of the witnesses claimed they saw Morris come out of the apartment empty-handed and punch Pacatte without warning, then go back into his apartment to retrieve the beer bottle before hitting Yerbic.
One of the witnesses also told police that the bottle Morris allegedly used to assault Yerbic did not break upon contact with his head. Instead, the witness told police Morris went back inside after the incident and within minutes the front window shattered from the inside.
The police report did not contain further information as to what caused the window to break.
According to the report, one of the witnesses told police it appeared that Morris was “highly intoxicated” during the incident, and the arresting deputy noted that Morris smelled strongly of alcohol.
After talking to the victims and witnesses present at the scene, deputies determined that they had enough evidence to arrest Morris for assault with a deadly weapon. The report stated that Morris was taken into custody at 12:36 a.m. Saturday morning.
According to the police report, as Morris was being escorted down the stairs, he became agitated and began shouting and refusing to cooperate with the deputy walking him to the patrol car. By the time they reached the patrol car, the report stated, he was “yelling at the top of his lungs,” saying that the police had not read him his rights.
The deputy said he did not need to read him his rights, as Morris was not being interrogated.
Police said a crowd began to form once they reached the patrol car, with numerous people who knew Morris telling him to “chill out.” Several deputies arrived to control the crowd as Morris was searched and placed in the back of the car. The report stated that the search revealed a driver license bearing someone else’s name on Morris’ person, adding possession of fictitious identification to the charges against him.
Linver said he felt the officers who responded to the incident managed the situation well, especially due to the victims’ injuries and the large number of people present.
“The [deputies] did a good job,” Linver said. “It could have gotten more volatile, and it didn’t.”
The case had not yet been forwarded to the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office as of Monday afternoon.