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In an effort to “cheer him up” after a breakup, a former W&M football player’s roommates took him out to a party on Lafayette Street on Halloween.
The football player, 20-year-old Jesse Valentino Santiago, was found guilty Tuesday of assaulting a police officer whom he encountered while walking in the city of Williamsburg after the party.
Santiago testified at his trial Tuesday he left the party at around 11 p.m. Oct. 31 and began walking on Lafayette Street while texting on his phone when someone came up behind him and said “Hey, what’s up man? Can I talk to you for a second?”
The speaker was Officer Alex Crane of the Williamsburg Police Department, who had noticed Santiago swaying into the roadway while driving in his squad car next to Chesapeake Bank on Lafayette Street.
When Crane approached Santiago, he noticed his eyes were bloodshot, he was swaying and there was a “potent” odor of alcohol on him. Santiago told Crane he had come from a house party on Lafayette Street, was a student at the college and had consumed one drink that night.
When Crane asked for Santiago’s identification, the W&M wide receiver turned, reached into his pocket and began sprinting from the officer, Crane testified.
Crane yelled at him to stop and chased after him, eventually tackling him in the middle of the road, causing Santiago to suffer from bruising and lacerations.
When Crane tried to arrest him, Santiago stood up and threw a right cross that hit Crane in his right eye before running away again toward Kim’s BP gas station.
Crane got up and chased him again, yelling “stop resisting.” He eventually reached Santiago and was able to place him in custody.
Santiago, who has since been expelled from the college, was charged with one felony count of assault on a police officer and three misdemeanor counts of drunk in public, resisting arrest and underage possession of alcohol.
Santiago testified Tuesday he was unaware Crane was a police officer until Crane yelled “stop resisting.”
He was taken to Riverside Doctors’ Hospital, where he told the officer he had consumed three drinks. He told Crane he ran away from him because he “got scared” and “just wanted to get away.”
At Tuesday’s trial, Santiago testified he had “no more than 10 drinks.”
His mother told the court her son had called her earlier that day to tell her his girlfriend had broken up with him.
Her son’s roommates called her later that night to tell her Santiago was arrested and explained they had taken him to a party in an effort to “cheer him up,” she said.
Williamsburg-James City County Circuit Court Judge Michael McGinty said it was “hard for the court to imagine” Santiago was unable to recognize Crane was a police officer when Crane initially approached him and began asking him questions.
He said Santiago’s testimony “lacks credibility” and found him guilty of assaulting a law enforcement officer.
Santiago’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for 1 p.m. June 10.