Defendant in UC-Berkeley assault pleads not guilty

The defendant charged with smashing a conservative activist in the face in an assault at the University of California, Berkeley campus last month pleaded not guilty to four counts at his arraignment on Wednesday.

Zachary Greenberg, a 28-year-old software engineer, gave his plea at the Wiley W. Manuel Courthouse in Oakland. The Alameda County District Attorney’s office filed three criminal felony charges and one misdemeanor charge against Greenberg on Tuesday.

Harmeet Dhillon, the attorney for Hayden Williams, the victim of the alleged assault, tweeted that Greenberg was ordered to stay off the UC-Berkeley campus, and away from her client. Dhillon, who attended the arraignment, also said the court granted Greenberg's request to have his personal information redacted from public records because he was being harassed and threatened.

The felony counts relate to assault and causing or intending bodily injury, and criminal threats. A misdemeanor count is related to vandalism, the complaint shows.

The charges came five days after police arrested Greenberg for allegedly attacking Williams, who is 26, while he was manning a recruitment table on campus for the conservative group Turning Point USA.

“We are pleased that the good investigative work of our police department has led to the filing of these charges,” Dan Mogoluf, assistant vice chancellor at UC-Berkeley, told Fox News on Tuesday. “The university believes that those who violate the free-speech rights of others must be held accountable and face the appropriate consequences.”

UC-BERKELEY REOPENS INVESTIGATION INTO ASSAULT ON CONSERVATIVE ACTIVIST, DAYS AFTER ANNOUNCING ITS END

Williams, who is not a student, but rather a field representative for the conservative group The Leadership Institute, was helping Turning Point USA, which is launching a chapter on the campus, to hand out recruitment materials when Greenberg and another man approached him, he said to Fox News.

Williams said Greenberg took exception to pro-Trump signs, as well as one that criticized false hate-crime allegations, in an apparent reference to the case of actor Jussie Smollett, the TV actor accused of fabricating a racist and homophobic assault. In a confrontation captured on cellphone video, the person Williams identified as Greenberg use vulgarities and taunted the activist. As Williams recorded him with his phone, the man attempted to grab it, knocked over the table and ripped signs.

Greenberg’s criminal defense attorney, Alanna Coopersmith, said Wednesday her client had been studying in the UC-Berkeley library the day of the attack, though he doesn’t attend Berkeley. He attends another nearby college, she said.

“He has a clean record," Coopersmith told reporters outside the courtroom as Greenberg stood at her side. "I understand many people observing this case are interested in constitutional freedom and I would remind them that one important constitutional freedom is the presumption of innocence, due process of law and due process in a courtroom, not on social media or the Internet."

She said it was premature to comment on the substance of the case.

Dhillon told Fox News that she is optimistic that her client will get justice.

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"I’m pleased that the Alameda County DA’s office is handling this matter with the seriousness and diligence that it deserves, quickly coming to a charging decision and offering open communication about the process," she said.