BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — One of four people charged in a 2020 confrontation between Black Lives Matter protesters and supporters of Donald Trump in which bear mace was sprayed and racial slurs hurled has taken a plea deal.
Dustin Marion pleaded no contest Tuesday to a misdemeanor charge of challenging someone to a fight while charges related to a civil rights violation and conspiracy were dismissed. A misdemeanor stalking charge was also dismissed.
The plea agreement was reached during a preliminary hearing heard before Judge Michael G. Bush. The other three defendants remain facing charges as the hearing continued Tuesday afternoon.
Marion’s attorney, Kyle J. Humphrey, said there was a lot of ugliness during the incident and “both sides engaged in conduct you wouldn’t want your grandmother to see.” He said Marion is satisfied with the outcome.
The case was overcharged and “a lot of political forces were at work,” Humphrey said. He acknowledged people weren’t as civil as they should have been.
Marion decided to a take the misdemeanor plea instead of paying the heavy financial cost of a trial, Humphrey said.
The incident happened Nov. 1, 2020, on Panama Lane near Highway 99 when, according to Black Lives Matter activist Erika Harris, Trump supporters blocked her into a parking lot before telling her to get out of her vehicle. In a video posted to Twitter, racist slurs can be heard and a woman tries to grab her phone.
Police reviewed footage and interviewed witnesses and the next month arrested Marion, Timothy Stevens, Kevin Connell and Kristin Stewart.
Connell is accused of spraying mace, Stevens of using a racial slur and Stewart of assault, according to court documents. All four suspects admitted being present during the incident.
Humphrey said cross-examination of Harris revealed she is not affiliated with the national Black Lives Matter movement.