Tuesday, September 25, 2012
The morning of Aug. 28 Sunnyside police were split up as they attempted to investigate two versions of an assault that took place in the 400 block of South Sixth Street, the office of the local Democrat party.
Both Donicio Marichalar, the Yakima County Democrat party chairman, and 15th Legislative District candidate Pablo Gonzalez had phoned police regarding a dispute that had occurred at their office.
The two men phoned police separately because the dispute and subsequent argument was the result of the two men disagreeing on as to whether or not to support local labor unions.
That's according to reports obtained from officials at the Sunnyside Police Department.
Officer Sam Ramos responded to one of the calls and made contact with Marichalar, whom Ramos said had a fresh scrape to his knee.
Marichalar told the officer that the dispute began via text messages. The dispute went unresolved and Marichalar said a decision was made to pull support from Gonzalez's political campaign.
"Marichalar indicated that he was attempting to return a $200 deposit for rent to Gonzalez," according to police reports.
That's when the matter became highly volatile. Marichalar told officers the political candidate punched him and "...he was forced to grab Gonzalez by the throat and pin him against the wall within the office," according to the report.
Gonzalez allegedly punched Marichalar again before leaving the office.
Gonzalez told police he had been at the office to collect his property.
He said Marichalar insisted he sign a receipt for the deposit and Gonzalez reportedly informed the Democratic party chairman he could not accept the $200 because it was in cash form.
That's when the argument ensued, according to statements made to police.
Gonzalez claims Marichalar attempted to reclaim the receipt from Gonzalez's hand. He said that is when Marichalar began choking him and he defended himself by punching the chairman.
Gonzalez, in his statement, told officers he was able to move toward the door when Marichalar fell to the ground, but Marichalar got back up and began choking him again.
"Gonzalez indicated that he threw some jabs to create distance so he could get away," according to police.
The political candidate said he escaped to his girlfriend's vehicle.
The girlfriend told police she observed a portion of the scuffle from where she was sitting. She told officers she observed Gonzalez dropping papers after Marichalar raised his hands and placed them somewhere in the vicinity of Gonzalez's neck.
The girlfriend told police she also witnessed Gonzalez punching Marichalar in reaction to Marichalar's actions.
She continued to verify Gonzalez's version of the story, adding that Marichalar approached her vehicle after Gonzalez escaped the office.
On that date, none of the parties, according to Sunnyside police officials, was certain as to whether or not they would pursue charges against one another.
It was on the following day, Aug. 29, that Gonzalez and his attorney met with police. He still was not certain as to whether or not he wanted to pursue charges against Marichalar, but on Sept. 5, police received an email claiming the local Democrat party chairman was attempting to blackmail Gonzalez.
Officers were unable to substantiate the claim.
The two men reportedly continued to make contact with one another and on Sept. 7 each decided to press charges against one another.
Sunnyside police say Marichalar is facing a charge of assault fourth degree, and requested charges against Gonzalez include assault fourth degree and harassment.
The harassment charge stems from text messages Gonzalez allegedly sent, stating he would not press charges against Marichalar if Marichalar was willing to step down from his position as party chairman.
The charges against the two men are misdemeanors and have been forwarded to the city of Sunnyside's attorneys for review. If the men appear before a judge, it will be at the Sunnyside Municipal Court, but a court date has not yet been set.