Witnesses recount Alfonzo Dennard fight
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By Shalise Manza Young Globe Staff
The fourth day of Alfonzo Dennard’s trial featured testimony from the college student the Patriots cornerback is accused of assaulting April 21, 2012.
Dennard, 23, is facing charges of assaulting an officer, a felony, as well as two misdemeanors, third-degree assault and resisting arrest, first offense.
According to the Lincoln (Neb.) Journal Star, Ben Samani, a 22-year-old student at the University of Nebraska, testified Thursday that Dennard “shouldered” him as the two crossed O Street in opposite directions as the area’s bars were letting out for the night.
Dennard was a standout for the Cornhuskers and was reportedly celebrating on the night of the incident, just days before he was to be selected in the NFL draft.
“My first reaction was to push off [Dennard],” Samani said.
The cornerback swung at Samani, punching him in the chest, but he said it wasn’t a hard punch.
Initially Samani said he didn’t feel any pain, but later testified that he felt slight pain that lasted just a couple of seconds. Samani said right after Dennard’s punch he was blindsided by someone else, who is unknown at this point, which left him with a bloody mouth and three of his teeth pushed back.
When Samani looked again, he said he saw Dennard walking away and police officer Ben Kopsa coming up behind the cornerback.
A second Lincoln police officer, Phillip Tran, testified Thursday that he heard Kopsa commanding Dennard to stop, then saw Dennard put his fists up, go “toe to toe” with Kopsa, and then punch him in the face.
However, Samani’s recounting of the confrontation differs from what the officers said happened: he and a friend said they saw Dennard swing at Kopsa, but Kopsa tried to avoid the punch and they did not see if the right hook connected.
Dennard admits that while he did resist arrest, he maintains that he swung around, thinking someone was attacking him when Kopsa approached, and that he only tried to push the officer away from him.
The state is expected to close its case Friday. Dennard is slated to testify in his defense.
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