Market melee

Former city councilman pursues charges against his alleged attacker

What happened to former Chico City Councilman David Guzzetti near the Saturday Farmers Market two weeks ago?

The outspoken liberal says he was physically assaulted after approaching a man who’d just unleashed a verbal attack on Guzzetti in connection with what he called an incident of “road rage.”

While waiting for a woman to pull out of a parking space near the market, Guzzetti said, the driver behind him began honking his horn, yelled and then gave Guzzetti the finger as he swung out and drove past.

After parking his vehicle, Guzzetti said he spotted the man using the ATM at the Sierra Central Credit Union across Second Street from the market. He said he approached and “politely” asked the man why he got so upset.

Guzzetti described the man as about his size and age, which are short and early 60s.

“The man turned and said, ‘I know who you are!’” Guzzetti recalled. He then reportedly unleashed a profanity-laced diatribe at Guzzetti. “[Y]ou’re Mr. fuckin’ environment, Mr. fuckin’ community man and city councilman!”

Guzzetti said he turned to leave at that point, but was grabbed from behind and slammed to the concrete curb in the parking lot. He said a witness pleaded with the man, asking him why he was doing this.

Just a few days earlier Guzzetti had been released from the hospital for treatment of his hepatitis-C-damaged liver, which he contracted while serving as an Army medic more than 40 years ago.

Guzzetti said when he told the man of his medical condition, the man responded by saying, “I know all about your liver and your alcoholism.”

Because of his long-term liver condition, Guzzetti doesn’t drink alcohol. Once he was able to get to his feet, he said, he went back to his car, wrote down his alleged attacker’s license plate number and drove to the police station. Unfortunately, he said, he wrote down the wrong number.

Early last week the story appeared in the Enterprise-Record, after a reporter was alerted to the events by a friend of Guzzetti’s. That story resulted in a storm of mostly crude and vicious anti-Guzzetti remarks in the paper’s online readers’ forum, including, “my dad just told me he was a he-she in San Francisco,” that he was “a professional pan-handler in San Francisco before moving to Chico” and that the other guy deserved to be called a hero. A number of the comments have since been taken down by the site’s administrator.

The day the story came out, the other man involved reported to the police and told a different story, according to attorney Mike Bush, who is working on the case for Guzzetti. The man, Bush said, told police he merely touched Guzzetti on the back as he was walking away and that they both lost their balance and ended up on the ground. And, pending the investigation, police Det. Scott Harris told Bush the man’s identity would not be revealed.

The man, according to one source, is a local marriage and family therapist.

The eyewitness also talked with police and gave her account, which, Bush said, backed up Guzzetti’s version. But she did not see the beginning of the incident, and as such what caused it is up for debate. The man told police the scuffling on the ground was mutual.

The credit union may have a taped video of the incident, but representatives there told Guzzetti and Bush the bank would not release the video for privacy reasons. The police could subpoena it as part of the investigation.

In the meantime, Guzzetti is recovering from his injury—bruised ribs located about two inches from his liver—and trying to come to terms with what happened.

“This is my hurt now,” he said. “I was attacked as a former public official, and yet I’m now reluctant to pursue because I am an infamous former public official.”

He was willing, he said, to meet the man with a police officer present and discuss the incident and see if things could be worked out. But he’s received no cooperation, and said he will now pursue the case.