NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - A suspect accused of beating and paralyzing a tourist in the Marigny last month now says he's the victim.
The suspect, Christopher Smith, made his first court appearance Monday after turning himself in Sunday night. His attorney, Gino Gates, argues that Smith was the one who was attacked, and he was just defending himself.
"It was not my client's intent to harm Mr. [Doug] David," Gates said. "Mr. David initiated and accosted in a very aggressive way my client, Mr. Smith. Mr. Smith defended himself."
According to the police report, David told detectives he was crossing the street on Oct. 15 when a car ran a stop sign at the intersection of Frenchman and Decatur and almost hit him. David threw a beer can at the car. An arrest warrant for Smith said surveillance video shows Smith got out of the car and approached David. David raised his hands defensively, and Smith hit him in the face twice. David fell to the ground and remained motionless.
While, Smith's attorney said that's not how it happened, David's family and friends say Smith's allegations are ridiculous.
"I think it would be funny if it wasn't so tragic. This guy is almost seven feet tall, he was in a car, he almost hit our friend as our friend was crossing the street. My friend is 64 turning 65 in December. This guy is 30. I don't think there is a question who had the upper hand," said David's friend, Sharon Jones.
Smith's attorney wants David charged with aggravated assault. Meanwhile, David is back in California receiving care for his injuries after spending weeks in a New Orleans hospital.
"We wouldn't be here if Mr. David had not thrown the bottle at my client's girlfriend's car," Gates said. "By him throwing the bottle, that basically gave my client the right to find out exactly what was going on with the vehicle."
"Doug wasn't looking for trouble, but this guy apparently was. He is the one who got out of his car - nobody forced him to do that," said Jones.
The prosecution has asked that Smith to be held on a $100,000 bond, but the judge lowered it to $35,000 and ordered Smith to stay away from David.