Former Fresno City College instructor Brian Calhoun testified Wednesday that he held a female student's arm in order to report her for cursing at him, but he denied pushing her into a wall.
"She either stopped at the wall or ran into the wall," Calhoun said in Fresno County Superior Court. He later testified that Kevynn Gomez, 20, also could have walked backwards into the wall.
Calhoun also denied lifting the 5-foot-2, 102-pound Gomez off the ground and body-slamming her to the floor during the March confrontation.
"Physically, I could not do it," Calhoun said, telling the jury he is 69 years old and 5-foot-9 and 157 pounds.
Calhoun said he did pin Gomez's arms to her side so she wouldn't hit him again. He then laid her on the floor on her back, he said: "I did it in a way that I did not hurt her."
In the final day of testimony, Calhoun, a former Fresno City Council member, gave his account as he tries to fend off a charge of misdemeanor battery. If convicted, he faces up to six months in jail and/or a fine.
Jurors have the day off Thursday to allow the lawyers and Judge Denise Whitehead time to go over jury instructions. Closing arguments will be Friday.
Calhoun, a former Army intelligence officer, frequently said "Yes, sir" when addressing questions from his lawyer, Roger Nuttall.
He testified he never cursed Gomez, hit her or tried to hit her. "I like students, even when they hit me," he told jurors.
He said Gomez was the aggressor and described her as "a very angry, crude young woman" whose "face was screwed up into an angry scowl."
He also took a shot at campus police and college administrators, saying they never got "his side of the story." Instead, police quickly cited him with a misdemeanor and ordered him to leave the campus until further notice, he said. He was later fired.
Given the chance, Calhoun testified, he would have told police and his bosses he was scared for his life during the March 22 confrontation with Gomez. Two male students got into a fighting stance and threatened to knock him out, he said.
Calhoun said the two students also mocked him, saying repeatedly, "What's your name?" -- the same phrase Calhoun had asked Gomez repeatedly after he grabbed her arm in a hallway of the Old Administration Building.
"I was scared witless," Calhoun told the jury of eight men and four women.
Calhoun's account of what happened differed from what Gomez said last week. And prosecutor Michael Brummel accused Calhoun of giving various accounts of how Gomez ended up against a wall.
With the judge's permission, Calhoun on Wednesday afternoon stepped away from the witness stand to demonstrate how he said he pinned Gomez's arms to her sides with a"bear hug." He said he then laid her on the ground to stop her attack. Her legs could have left the ground during the maneuver, he said.
He also admitted that he held one of Gomez's biceps "to slow her or stop her" from leaving. He said his sole intent was to get Gomez's name so he could report her to the dean -- not to harm her or injure her.
Gomez never gave her name, Calhoun said -- and, he admitted to Brummel, he never asked Gomez's instructor for it.
There were other discrepancies.
Gomez testified last week that she slugged Calhoun three times in the face because he wouldn't let go of her arm. She also said that after Calhoun body-slammed her, he raised his fist over his head as if to hit her, but students intervened and pulled her to safety while restraining Calhoun.
But Calhoun testified he never raised his fist or made one. He also said Gomez slugged him more than three times.
Both sides agree Calhoun first confronted Gomez's instructor, Michael Medrano, about being late dismissing a class. Medrano's Chicano-Latino Studies class was taking a midterm exam; Calhoun told Medrano his students had to leave the classroom because it was Calhoun's turn to use the room.
Medrano testified last week that Calhoun shouted at him and said: "Your students have to leave now. This is my time."
Calhoun told the jury Wednesday that he had to speak loudly to Medrano because Medrano was across the room from him. He said he did tell Medrano that his students had to leave.
What happened next is in dispute.
Gomez testified she cursed at Calhoun for yelling at Medrano and disrupting her and other students taking the midterm. She said Calhoun pursued her into the hallway, grabbed her arm and pinned her against a wall and then body slammed her. Eight other students have testified to similar accounts.
Calhoun, however, said he "held" one of Gomez's biceps; he declined to say he "grabbed" her arm. He said he was still holding Gomez when the two male students confronted him and mocked him. He described getting in a tug-of-war with Gomez when "I released control of her arm and fell into her" at the wall.
It was then that Gomez punched him several times in the face, he said. The blows bloodied his nose, loosened a tooth and broke his glasses, he testified. He said he later swallowed the tooth during a meal.
When the prosecutor asked him what he was eating when he swallowed his tooth, Calhoun said: "Are you serious?" Judge Denise Whitehead ordered Calhoun to answer the question. Calhoun said he couldn't remember the meal.
Calhoun said he was shocked when Gomez slugged him. He told the jury he had never had a student disrespect him the way Gomez did in his 45 years of teaching, including 25 years at FCC.
Because the blows dazed him, Calhoun said his first inclination was to get away from Gomez. "She's the tormentor," he testified.
After pinning her arms and putting her on her back, Calhoun said, "I have no memory after that. I was dazed. I was in a fog." But he did recall asking someone to call police.
The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6434, firstname.lastname@example.org or @beecourts on Twitter.