Close to three months after the Deltopia riots broke out in Isla Vista, the 17-year-old man authorities say ignited the four-hour melee appeared in court. Dressed in a mint green dress shirt and accompanied by his parents and two supporters, Desmond Edwards is currently being held at Santa Barbara Juvenile Hall on a $75,000 bail. On the witness stand Wednesday afternoon was the UCSB police officer who authorities say was assaulted when Edwards threw a backpack at him.
On April 5, about 25,000 partyers participated in what has been dubbed an “unsanctioned” annual event, Officer Antonio Magaña testified, and on that Saturday night around 9:30 p.m., he witnessed a fight involving four or five individuals begin on the 6700 block of Del Playa Drive, an area he described as less congested than other parts of the coastal street. As officers sought to break up the fight, the subjects scattered, Magaña said.
Answering questions from prosecutor Mary Barron, Magaña said he spotted one individual — later identified as Edwards — because his pink shorts and white shirt were visible thanks to the large surveillance cameras and lights that had been installed just days earlier. Magaña said he chased Edwards — who was running on the sidewalk — westward down the street. Edwards appeared to be holding a high-school-style backpack, which he speculated held him back a bit.
Magaña testified that his recollection of the events that followed is hazy. Magaña first said that he was struck with the backpack in the face when he was standing in the street. “The force of the backpack was so severe that it temporarily incapacitated me,” Magaña said, and he later added he suffered from loss of memory to some extent. “I attempted to run after him even though I was in a lot of pain. My natural reaction was to apprehend the subject as I fell forward.” Magaña later described his fall as a “Superman-type of a move.”
Magaña said he wasn’t sure if he went unconscious — if he did it was only for a moment — but he was sure he was “bleeding profusely.” At this point, an ambulance responded, and Magaña said the crowd started to turn on law enforcement, “People were starting to throw things and bottles. That was the beginning of the riot.”
Magaña went on to say that he was transported to the hospital, where he took medication — an unknown type — to sedate himself and had 20 stitches sewn above his right eye. A photograph presented of the wound showed they went from the ridge above his nose to halfway across his eyebrow.
During cross-examination, public defender Mindi Boulet asked Magaña if he could have tripped on a small tree stump. But Magaña disagreed and said he fell because he was struck by the backpack. Boulet also played stills from the surveillance video, which was somewhat difficult to make out. Because trees in the screenshot had not been trimmed, the footage did not catch the backpack incident on tape.
Barron will bring two more witnesses. The preliminary hearing continues Thursday afternoon.