The attorney for political pie-thrower Sean Thompson is questioning the current lack of video evidence in the altercation with disgraced soon-to-be-former Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson.
Thompson faces felony charges for assault on a public official for hitting Johnson in the face with a pie on Wednesday. Bail has been set at $100,000. In a jailhouse interview on Thursday, Thompson admitted bringing a coconut creme pie to a fundraiser for St. HOPE, Johnson’s charter school. Thompson said he intended to use it to “embarrass” the mayor. (Activists have a history of weaponizing baked goods to humiliate public figures.) Thompson said that after pieing the mayor, he told Johnson he needed to “better represent” his constituents, at which point Johnson started punching him.
Claire White, a Bay Area attorney who works with military veterans, says she will defend Thompson, who she described as a fellow Air Force veteran and friend, and is taking the case pro bono. White said the most curious part of the case so far is the dearth of visual evidence of what took place, observing that “there were 200 people there, including high school students.”
So far, all that’s come out are few shots published last night by Sacramento Magazine, one of which shows Johnson standing with what looks like a blood stain on his shirt as Thompson is cowering and restrained on the ground nearby.
Jennifer McGraw of the Sacramento CBS affiliate reported last night that after the pie and fists were thrown “leaders” of the event told guests “to delete those pictures off of their cellphones.”
If McGraw’s report can be proven, White says, prosecutors could have a tough time going forward with the case, given Thompson’s contention that the beating started when he spoke to the mayor, not when he tossed his dessert.
“If [Johnson] was verbally provoked and beat him brutally, that’s significant,” says White. “I’m going to be shocked if there’s no video evidence whatsoever. If somebody told them to delete their videos, that’s a direct destruction of evidence. That’s a felony. If it turns out that this evidence was destroyed, if all the potentially exonerating evidence was deleted, that would obviously affect the defense. I would hope that would lead to the charges being dropped against my client.”
Thompson is scheduled to be arraigned this afternoon in Sacramento.