Prosecutors dismissed an April assault charge against The Citadel’s lacrosse club coach Monday after the alleged victim in the case opted against going forward to trial, authorities said.
Prosecutors tossed the third-degree assault charge just before Garett Rosecrans, 33, of Broad Street, was to stand trial in Charleston’s municipal court. Rosecrans’ lawyer, David Aylor, said the evidence clearly showed Rosecrans acted in self-defense.
“This is very positive news for my client,” Aylor said. “This was extremely embarrassing and damaging for hij, and we feel like now he has been relieved of any responsibility in all this.”
Charleston police arrested Rosecrans on April 2 after a confrontation at the Waffle House at 325 Savannah Highway.
A witness told police Rosecrans punched a 44-year-old man who was harassing him.
The man who was struck told police that Rosecrans invited him outside and punched him several times after he complained about Rosecrans and a friend treating staff in a “rude and offensive” manner.
Rosecrans told police the man was standing close to him and being intimidating, and he hit him in self-defense because he “feared for his safety.”
Rosecrans was initially charged with second-degree assault, a felony, but the charge was later reduced to third-degree assault, a misdemeanor.
Two Waffle House employees who witnessed the event later provided Aylor with written statements indicating that the man who Rosecrans punched was the aggressor that night. They stated that he was verbally abusive to the staff, used racial slurs and provoked Rosecrans.
Aylor described his client’s actions as “a classic case of self-defense.”
City prosecutor Mark Bourdine said he didn’t agree with that characterization, though he acknowledged some witnesses noted the use of racial slurs by the alleged victim and didn’t support the man’s account of Rosecrans bothering staff.
Bourdine said the case hinged on one man’s word against another, as video footage of the incident had no sound to verify what was said leading up to punches being thrown.
“We were ready to go to trial,” Bourdine said. “But the whole case was the victim and he didn’t want to go forward.”
Aylor maintained that the alleged victim was the one acting inappropriately and recklessly, and that Rosecrans had a right to defend himself under the state’s stand-your-ground law. He said the two Waffle House workers were ready to testify on Rosecran’s behalf while the alleged victim has since been banned from the restaurant.
“The self-defense claim was not one mans word against another’s, it was established by the two uninterested witnesses,” Aylor said. “My client is not denying he struck him and that the man had a fractured nose. But he claimed self-defense from the beginning and that’s why we refused to take anything but a complete dismissal.”
Reach Glenn Smith at 937-5556. (Charleston Post & Courier)