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YOLO COUNTY NEWS
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Hate crime victim: I’ll be more vigilant

Vigil1W

By
From page A1 | March 17, 2013 |

SACRAMENTO — Lawrence “Mikey” Partida’s days begin at 7 a.m. with a shower, a once-simple task that for now requires the assistance of hospital staff.

From there, he goes to rounds of physical, occupational and speech therapy to rebuild skills he lost when an alleged hate-crime beating on March 10 fractured his skull and caused bleeding to his brain. He’s also under the care of a neurological psychologist and is taking both pain and anti-seizure medications.

“I’ve noticed slower movements,” Partida said in an interview Friday evening at the Sacramento acute rehabilitation facility where he expects to spend at least the next two weeks, and possibly as long as a month, as he continues his recovery.

Five days after the early-morning assault on I Street, the longtime Davis resident’s face remained significantly bruised, with cuts in various stages of healing and his right eye still swollen shut under a thick pad of gauze.

“He’s a little uncoordinated and his thinking is slow, but that’s consistent with a head injury,” said his mother, Gloria Partida, also from Davis. “He’s able to do a little more every day.”

On Thursday, the same day Partida was transferred to the rehab facility from the UC Davis Medical Center, Davis police announced the arrest of 19-year-old Clayton Daniel Garzon on assault, hate crime and other charges in connection with the beating. Within hours, Garzón was released from the Yolo County Jail after posting a $75,000 bail bond.

A week later, the incident continues to elicit both sadness and outrage in the Davis community, where an estimated 300 people gathered at Central Park for a candlelight vigil in Partida’s honor on Saturday night. The city’s Human Relations Commission is expected to discuss the incident at its next meeting Thursday, March 28.

“A hate crime against one member of our community is an assault against all of us,” Davis Mayor Pro Tem Dan Wolk said Saturday. “There is no place for hate or violence in Davis, and we hope that our unity serves as a reminder of this. Our hearts and thoughts are with Mikey and his family.”

Said Partida, “I never thought I’d be that big of a movement. I’m just trying to take it day by day. But I don’t want to be quiet about it. Anyone else that’s gone through something like this, they should be able to speak out about it, and feel OK about speaking out about it.”

Details emerge

The attack occurred shortly before 4 a.m. outside Partida’s cousin’s house in the 300 block of I Street, where family and friends earlier that night had held a party in honor of Partida’s 32nd birthday.

Garzon lives across the street in the Old East Davis neighborhood. No one answered a knock at the door of the home Friday afternoon, and the listed phone number remained disconnected as of Saturday.

On the other side of the street, two Davis police detectives conducted a follow-up interview Friday with Partida’s cousin, Vanessa Turner, who was with Partida on the night of the beating.

Davis police Lt. Glenn Glasgow said Partida’s sexual orientation is believed to have triggered the assault “at least partially,” with anti-gay slurs allegedly being used by the suspect “both prior to and after the attack.”

Like Partida, Turner declined to go into specific detail about the incident on the advice of Davis police, who say they want to preserve the integrity of the case as it proceeds toward the court system.

But Turner did say that Garzon, whom she had spoken to on several occasions but did not know well, tried to get her attention as she and Partida walked away from their cousin’s house just before the attack. She said Partida instructed her to stand on the street corner as he went back to the house for a forgotten set of keys.

“He was very concerned with my safety and made me stay back,” Turner said.

What neither she nor Partida knew was that Garzon, along with a 16-year-old boy from Carmichael, had been arrested six months earlier in connection with a brawl at a Dixon house party that left four men with stab wounds and a fifth with head trauma, according to media accounts. The case is still pending in Solano Superior Court.

“I had no idea,” Turner said. “Maybe if I had known, it would have been different that night.”

Partida said he was shocked to learn of Garzon’s quick release from jail, given his prior arrest and the nature of the allegations in both cases.

“It really pissed me off,” he said.

Garzon is scheduled to be arraigned April 12 in Yolo Superior Court. Formal charges have not yet been filed by the Yolo County District Attorney’s Office, which as of Friday was still awaiting police reports on the case, Chief Deputy District Attorney Jonathan Raven said.

“Once we receive them we’ll review them and make a charging decision,” Raven said. “Obviously, we take these type of cases very seriously.”

Community rallies

The Partidas say they continue to be bolstered by the support they’ve received in the past week. The Facebook page “Mikey’s Justice Fund,” established to share information about Partida’s condition and collect donations toward his ongoing medical care, had surpassed 2,000 “likes” as of Saturday.

To lift her son’s spirits, Gloria Partida reads aloud from the hundreds of posts left on the page, some from as far away as Canada and Germany from people Partida has never even met.

She said she hopes her son’s ordeal will spur something bigger and for the greater good, “that people who are embarrassed or isolated or afraid will look at this incident and realize there is tolerance and people who are accepting.”

Meanwhile, Mikey Partida said he’s started thinking about his return to Davis, where he was raised since age 6 and, until now, has lived without feeling threatened, he said.

“I’m going to have to focus on my way of life now, be more vigilant about my surroundings,” said Partida, who noted that he’s more wary of strangers than he was a week ago.

But Partida said he still plans to take part in the activities he enjoys, such as long-distance running and his job as a grocery clerk at the Davis Food Co-op, which has pledged $1,000 toward his recovery fund. A local studio has offered him free yoga classes.

“This is where he’s built his life,” Gloria Partida said. “I’ve always told my kids they should be hard-working and accountable and kind, and their lives will be what they want.”

She paused, then added: “This doesn’t really hold up.”

“One bad apple in a bowl,” her son responded. “You’ve just got to move on and be optimistic about the future.”

— Reach Lauren Keene at lkeene@davisenterprise.net or 530-747-8048. Follow her on Twitter at @laurenkeene

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