Witnesses testify in preliminary hearing for protest shooting case

Local News

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Prosecutors presented their case to a judge on Thursday, trying to show there is enough evidence to bring Steven Ray Baca to trial. Baca is facing a charge of aggravated battery causing bodily harm with a deadly weapon after shooting a man at a protest over the removal of the Juan De Onate statue outside the Albuquerque Museum. But, in the preliminary hearing on Thursday Baca’s attorney said it was self-defense.

“After he was chased by a crowd at the protest. He was struck with a skateboard, he was struck with fists. He was threatened. There were shouts in the crowd before this incident that ‘he’s a cop, kill him.’ He was then pursued by multiple people and it wasn’t until he was struck multiple times and did fear for his life that he shot back in self-defense,” Jason Bowles, Baca’s attorney, said.

Baca is also facing charges of aggravated battery and simple battery for allegedly assaulting two women demonstrators at the event. The judge heard from both women, one claiming Baca threw her to the ground causing her head to hit the concrete.

“I felt him grab my armpit on the right side and pull me, and he used his other hand to push my head down. And I was slammed into the ground,” A witness said. “We were standing on the dirt portion but I was thrown onto the concrete. Like, I remember hitting the concrete and my head hit the concrete…I have never hit my head so hard in my entire life before I felt, I don’t know just incredibly shook. I still can’t believe this happened.”

The other woman claimed Baca shoved her while she was taking a sign away from another woman at the event.

“As I was walking up the side of the Onate monument, it’s kind of this rugged side of the monument, he shoved me to the ground. That was the first time we had an altercation and the last,” another witness said. “Simultaneously, I was shoved down by Steven Baca, as I was throwing the sign I was shoved down.”

The court also heard from the man who brought a skateboard that was later used to hit Baca. He told the court he saw ‘evil intent’ in Baca’s eyes when at the protest. The shooting victim, Scott Williams, testified that he swung the skateboard at Baca with the intent of knocking the gun out of his hand.

“I’m not sure how many times I was shot, I ended up with nine holes in my body,” Williams said. “I remember laying on the ground, having an extremely hard time breathing. I remember some friends who came up to me, my father, who is a retired EMT, was one of the first people on the seen to provide support. I remember laying on the ground I remember my friends being there. It felt like an eternity. And then, I can remember seeing the police…drive up and SWAT team get out of the vehicles.”

Williams said he has about nine holes in his body from the shooting and was in the hospital for about five weeks. After three surgeries, Williams is still recovering.

“My wounds are healing, they’re not completely healed,” said Williams. “I have some pretty severe nerve damage in my right leg.”

There was a heated back and forth during the day surrounding evidence. The defense accused the state of ‘cherry-picking’ evidence in order to win instead of finding the truth. Jason Bowles, Baca’s attorney, made a motion to dismiss all the charges against his client. Williams’ attorney then spoke out against that motion. Judge Cristina Jaramillo denied the motion to dismiss charges.

The preliminary hearing went to recess Thursday evening since one of the state’s witnesses had a family emergency. The preliminary hearing will continue on Friday, August 14, 2020, at 1:15 p.m.

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