REDWOOD CITY, Calif. – Former 49ers and Raiders offensive lineman Kwame Harris faces felony domestic violence charges in the beating of an ex-boyfriend in the parking lot of a Menlo Park restaurant after an argument sparked by soy sauce, attorneys said Monday.
Wearing a dark suit and crisp white shirt, Harris was in San Mateo County Superior Court on Monday to meet with prosecutors, but has rejected a plea bargain. He’s pleaded not guilty to one count each of domestic violence and assault causing great bodily injury and could face up to nine years in prison if convicted.
The 30-year-old former NFL player’s defense lawyer said prosecutors have targeted the wrong person.
“This is a case of self-defense,” attorney Alin Cintean said.
The trouble started Aug. 21 when Harris – a former first-round NFL draft pick who played college football at Stanford – and ex-boyfriend Dimitri Geier of Los Angeles were sharing dinner at Su Hong restaurant in Menlo Park, according to attorneys and a prosecutor.
Harris was to drive Geier to San Francisco International Airport for a flight following the meal. But the men began to argue after Geier poured soy sauce on some rice, which upset Harris, according to a lawsuit Geier filed in San Mateo County in October.
The arguing continued and escalated, until finally Harris withdrew his offer to drop Geier off at the airport. Geier agreed to take a cab instead, but as they went to retrieve his bags from Harris’ car the dispute turned violent. Harris allegedly tried to pull down Geier’s pants and accused him of stealing his underwear, according to the suit. At some point the struggle came to blows.
The punches from Harris broke bones around Geier’s eye socket and led to a metal plate being installed in his face and other surgeries, said his attorney Craig Charles. He added Geier, who had been in a four-year, on-and-off relationship with Harris, may require more surgery because the metal plate has shifted.
During his NFL career, Harris did not come out as being gay or bisexual.
He’s out of jail on $75,000 bail and on Monday his trial was pushed back from Feb. 25 until April 29.
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