A losing candidate in the recent City Council District 8 race and a San Diego Union-Tribune writer have filed statements with the San Diego Police, claiming that the brother of the top vote-getter in the race assaulted them on election night.
The altercation stemmed from an Oct. 29 story U-T reporter Martin Stolz wrote about Ben Hueso, one among a series of candidate profiles the paper published. The story irritated Hueso, who said he sent Stolz a note saying, among other things, the coverage lacked objectivity and was unfair.
According to a written statement Stolz gave to the police, he was inside the San Diego Civic Center's Golden Hall, where candidates and the media gather to monitor election returns, at about 11:50 p.m. when Angel Hueso, Ben's brother, approached, identifying himself only as "a Hueso." Stolz pressed for his name, finally asking out loud, "Does anybody know this guy's name?"
When someone nearby said, "That's Angel," Stolz said he said, "It's nice to meet you, Angel" and extended his right hand. "Angel took my hand, yanked me toward him and said, "I want to talk to you,'" Stolz's statement said. "The unexpected yank caused me to lose my balance and stumble forward several steps." Stolz told police that Hueso held his "inappropriately heavy" grip on the reporter's hand until Stolz told him "firmly to "let go of me.'"
Stolz said he backed up a few steps, and Hueso came at him and poked him several times in the chest with his fingers, saying repeatedly, "I want to talk to you."
After some back and forth, Stolz said, two police officers intervened and escorted Hueso to the foyer. Stolz said Hueso returned twice while the reporter talked to the cops, the second time pushing a stroller, holding his infant son, it turns out, and declaring, "I'm a family man." An officer escorted Hueso out of the room each time.
Remy Bermúdez, who lost the election and was standing nearby, told the police that when Hueso yanked Stolz, the reporter's knees buckled. Bermúdez told CityBeat that when she confronted Hueso for his aggressive behavior, he grabbed her arm near the shoulder. She called the police three days later and had a patrol officer photograph what a police spokesperson called a "yellow bruise on her upper right bicep."
Whitney Benzian, a Hueso campaign staffer, told CityBeat that he was standing roughly 10 to 15 feet away. He couldn't hear the conversation, but he said he saw Stolz and Hueso shaking hands, and as the pair were "exchanging words... Martin Stolz pulled his hand back dramatically. It seemed like theatrics to me."
One of the officers on the scene, Larry Lieber, filed a statement that said he saw "what looked like a verbal argument between Stolz and Hueso. I did not see any physical contact between the two gentlemen." He said Stolz "didn't want to press any charges but wanted the incident documented."
For his part, Ben Hueso said he was not aware that Stolz and Bermúdez had given statements to the police. The candidate said he would relay CityBeat's request to talk to Angel Hueso, but his brother did not call back. Ben Hueso said the matter smelled like some kind of conspiracy between Stolz and Bermúdez. "Obviously, they coordinated some kind of complaint.... Remy wants to make it look like we're a bunch of thugs, and [Stolz] definitely has an issue with [us]."
Asked to comment, Stolz gave CityBeat a written statement, which read, in part: "Neither the Union-Tribune nor I am going to debate what happened with Angel Hueso on Election night. I filed a police incident report. Remy Bermúdez filed her own report. The police reports speak for themselves."
The U-T has not covered this story.