On March 8, reporter Michelle Fields was covering a Donald Trump rally for Breitbart News. After the rally, while attempting to interview Trump, Fields alleged that Trump's campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, grabbed her arm and yanked it so violently that she fell backward. The Washington Post's Ben Terris said he witnessed the event. Although Lewandowski, Trump, and incredibly, even Breitbart denied that the incident took place, the Jupiter, Florida, police department has charged Lewandowski with simple battery, and Lewandowski turned himself in on Tuesday morning. So, could Corey Lewandowski go to jail for the alleged battery? It's certainly possible.
While various news cameras were present and rolling during the incident, none were able to get a clear shot of what happened, due to the crowd. Breitbart even shared various videos of the event alongside its claim that someone other than Lewandowski grabbed Fields, and that it was probably an accident (a response that many people criticized the organization for). Fields and her editor, Ben Shapiro, resigned from Breitbart as a result, and provided statements to BuzzFeed. But all of those videos were rendered moot once the Jupiter police obtained clear security footage of the event, which has now been released to the public.
Fields (in beige) can be seen walking along Trump's right side in the video, holding her phone out towards him to record audio. A man identified as Lewandowski in the police report (obtained by Gawker) approaches from behind and extends his left arm out between Fields and Trump in an apparent attempt to separate the two. I'm not a cop, a lawyer, or an arm expert, but to the untrained eye, it looks as though Lewandowski then grabbed Fields' left arm with his right hand. Officer Marc Bujnowski said Lewandowski would face one count of Simple Battery, stating in the report that Lewandowski "did intentionally touch" Fields against her will, according to Gawker.
Lewandowski has repeatedly denied that the incident occurred, calling Fields an "attention seeker," claiming that she's "delusional," and saying that he's never even met her. Trump has also insisted that nothing happened, responding to the arrest with a tweet encouraging his followers to "look at tapes." Presumably he's not referring to the security footage, which obviously shows more than "nothing."
This is far from the first time a Trump rally has turned somewhat violent. On Feb. 29, photographer Christopher Morris alleged that a Secret Service agent choked him and threw him to the ground at a Trump rally in Virginia. On March 9, protester Rakeem Jones was sucker-punched by Trump supporter John McGraw while being escorted out of a North Carolina rally. In a follow-up interview, McGraw said that Jones deserved to be punched, and "the next time we see him, we might have to kill him." On March 19, protester Bryan Sanders was punched and kicked repeatedly by Tony Pettway during an Arizona Trump rally. All of the incidents were caught on camera. McGraw and Pettway were both charged with assault. Morris declined to press charges against the Secret Service agent.
In accordance with Florida law, Lewandowski was charged with Simple Battery, a misdemeanor which could potentially lead to a $1,000 fine and up to one year in jail. Lewandowski is being represented by attorney Kendall Coffey, who resigned from his position as U.S. Attorney in 1996 amid allegations that he bit a stripper. No charges were filed in that case, and both the woman in question and her husband were against Coffey's resignation. Lewandowski will appear in court on May 4, according to the New York Times.