A dispute over a handicapped parking space in a northwest Fresno shopping center led a teacher and her family to give 44-year-old Adrian Gamez a beatdown in broad daylight.
Gamez, however, says he got the last laugh, courtesy of Judge Judy, who did her own verbal smackdown of Vickie and Daniel Dupont and their teenage son before a national audience.
In her television show that aired April 27, Judge Judy Sheindlin scolded the Duponts for illegally parking in a handicapped parking space, told them they lied about their physical altercation with Gamez and denied their counter-claim for damages.
Though Judge Judy also blamed Gamez for the May 10, 2013, altercation, she awarded him $1,500 in damages (he wanted $5,000) for medical bills. Gamez also said he received a $500 appearance fee.
“I did what I set out to do,” a smiling Gamez said Wednesday. “I got justice and they got embarrassed.”
The Duponts, who were arrested following their fight with Gamez, could not be reached to comment. Their lawyer, Marc Kapetan, said Wednesday that Judge Judy’s ruling was unbelievable because Gamez started the altercation by cursing at Vickie Dupont, 49. Daniel Dupont, 50, and his 17-year-old son, Demetri, then came to her aid.
“He did a noble thing coming to his wife’s rescue,” Kapetan said of Daniel Dupont.
But Judge Judy said it wasn’t a fair fight — a 3-against-1 altercation that a bystander captured on video.
A Fresno police report says Gamez, who stands 5 feet, 3 inches and weighs 140 pounds, had his hands up “as if in a defensive stance” and was backing away when Daniel Dupont, who stands 6 feet, 2 inches and weighs 190 pounds, punched him in the face. Gamez fought back, but during the scuffle Daniel Dupont wrestled Gamez to the ground and got on top of him.
Gamez said that while he was on the ground, Vickie Dupont punched him at least 10 times while telling her son to kick Gamez — which he did, the video shows.
Gamez, who works as a cook at a Fresno homeless shelter, said he is not the type of person who seeks trouble or the limelight. But he said the dispute in the parking lot brought out his deep resentment toward people who think they can do whatever they want.
Parking illegally in a handicapped space particularly burns him, he said, because he grew up in Fresno watching his mother take care of two of his disabled aunts. One aunt has Down syndrome; the other needs 24-hour care, he said.
“There’s a reason we have handicapped parking spaces, because these people need help,” he said.
In the interview, Gamez admitted that he can be cocky and rude at times. But this time, he said, he was a good Samaritan.
He said he was in a pleasant mood on May 10, 2013, when he went to use an ATM in a shopping center at Herndon and Palm avenues. As he was walking toward the ATM, he noticed a new white Mercedes Benz pull into a handicapped parking spot next to the ATM. “This big guy gets out of the car and he doesn’t look handicapped to me,” Gamez said.
So Gamez confronted the man. “Excuse me sir, are you handicapped?” Gamez recalled saying.
“Nope,” Dupont replied.
“Then why are you parking in a handicapped space?”
Dupont told him to ask his wife, who was driving.
Gamez walked up to the Duponts’ car and noticed that it didn’t have a handicapped license plate or placard on the rear-view mirror. Annoyed, he tapped at the driver’s side window, but he said Vickie Dupont ignored him. After he told her that her husband told him he could ask her a question, she rolled down the window about 2 inches, he said.
Gamez said he got into a verbal altercation with Vickie Dupont and cursed her. Shortly after, Daniel Dupont yelled, “Hey, you can’t be talking to my wife like that!” and punched Gamez in the face, the police report says.
Gamez said he fought back, but Daniel Dupont wrestled him to the ground. Gamez told Judge Judy that Vickie Dupont stepped on his hands and punched him while her son kicked him in the face and in the ribs. But Gamez also managed to get in his own licks on Daniel Dupont. “Both our mouths were bloody,” Gamez said.
To get Daniel Dupont off of him, Gamez told Judge Judy that he grabbed Dupont “where it hurts” — his private parts. With Dupont off him, Gamez got to his feet and thought the fight was over. But then Vickie Dupont charged him, Gamez said.
“I unloaded,” Gamez told Judge Judy. “I give a her a Rocky Balboa to the jaw and put her out on the ground.”
Shortly after, a bystander started to videotape the altercation.
Once police arrived, officers arrested Gamez. But once witnesses told police what happened, officers asked Gamez if he wanted to press charges. The police report says Gamez “would be willing to forget the whole thing if the suspects would drop the matter also.”
But Vickie and Daniel Dupont insisted on pressing charges against Gamez, police said. “At this point, the victim advised that he would place the suspects under arrest for battery,” the police report says. Police arrested Vickie and Daniel Dupont and their son on a charge of misdemeanor battery. They were given a citation and released, the report says.
Unsure if the Duponts would get punished, Gamez said his goal was to not only get justice, but to embarrass them. “I wasn’t interested in getting a lawyer and suing them. I just wanted to make a point because what they did was wrong.”
That’s when he got the idea to contact the “Judge Judy” show.
He said months passed before the show’s producers called him and told him if he wanted to get on the show, he had to file a small claims case against the Duponts.
In March this year, he filed a small claims suit in Fresno County Superior Court. Once he filed it, he said, other television shows such as “Judge Mathis” and “People’s Court” called him and asked him to be on their show. But he promised “Judge Judy’s” producers that he would go on her show.
Meantime, her production team also got in contact with the Duponts, Kapetan said.
Court records show that in February 2014 Vickie Dupont pleaded no contest to disturbing the peace and parking in an handicapped space. Her plea was wiped out and her case was later dismissed after she paid Gamez $112 in restitution, Kapetan said. Daniel Dupont’s case was dismissed without a plea, Kapetan said.
The Duponts agreed to go on the show, Kapetan said, after “Judge Judy’s” producers agreed to pay any damages sought by Gamez. In addition, Gamez said he had to agree to drop his Superior Court small-claim suit.
Gamez said the show was filmed April 2 in Los Angeles. “It was crazy fun. I got my 15 minutes of fame and then some,” he said, noting that there were no rehearsals and the first time he met Judge Judy was in her courtroom.
For the show, Gamez said he had a game plan: admit to all his bad behavior. “I did my research before I went on,” he said. “I knew I didn’t want to get Judge Judy mad at me.”
Several times during the episode, Judge Judy reprimanded the Duponts, saying witnesses did not support their version of the fight.
Gamez said he got a kick out of the audience when they laughed at Vickie Dupont after she told Judge Judy that she was a teacher. Her husband said he is a car salesman.
Gamez said he was mad at Vickie Dupont when the video showed her telling bystanders that Gamez tried to rape her. “She flat-out lied,” he said.
Judge Judy also scolded Gamez, telling the Duponts that “he’s not a nice man, he has a temper.”
After the ruling, Judge Judy said the bystander’s video was damning evidence against the Duponts.