Kwame Harris charged in ex-boyfriend fight over underwear, soy sauce

January 30, 2013 9:37:53 AM PST
A former San Francisco 49er and Oakland Raiders player appeared in court Monday for a pretrial conference on domestic violence charges.

Kwame Harris, 30, is accused of assaulting his former boyfriend last August at a Menlo Park restaurant.

The felony domestic charges stem from last year when Harris and his already then ex-boyfriend Dimitri Geier were at the restaurant. A verbal argument started after Harris spilled some soy sauce. The argument then continued outside where Harris tried to pull down Geier's pants and accused him of stealing his underwear.

Harris' attorney says the brawl was started by Geier, who threw the first punch, although Geier was the one who ended up with the broken bones.

Former 49er and Raider Harris is 6'7" and 240 pounds, Geier is 6'1" and about 220 pounds.

The former NFL player's attorney says Harris was the one arrested, only because Geier ended up injured, and that he is just looking for money.

Harris could have settled the criminal and another civil case brought by Geier, but Harris is fighting both cases instead.

"It is very curious that shortly after the charges were filed, he filed a civil lawsuit," Harris' attorney said. "And that leads us to believe that he doesn't even want to wait until the criminal process is over to file the lawsuit."

Geier's Los Angeles-based attorney says that it's sad his client is being depicted as the aggressor. He says his client was brutally attacked -- the bones in his eye socket broken, requiring a plate, surgeries and more surgeries ahead. He notes that his client didn't start the fight, that Geier just took a swing to get away from Harris. The attorney says Geier just wants to be compensated for the medical bills related to those injuries.

A San Mateo County judge set a late April trial date for Harris, an offensive tackle who played five seasons with the 49ers and one season with the Oakland Raiders, Assistant District Attorney Al Serrato said.

Although a handful of former NFL players have come out as gay, none has while still wearing a uniform. Defense lawyer Alin Cintean said Harris, who played for Stanford before he was drafted by the 49ers in 2003 and has gone back to school to finish his undergraduate degree, identifies as gay, but "is not very public about it."

"He is a very private person. He doesn't like to talk about his personal life," he said.

Prosecutors are pursuing the domestic violence charge because the two men used to live together and had an on-again, off-again romantic relationship, Serrato said.

"Whenever we move forward with charges, it's because we believe the evidence is sufficient," Serrato said. "Certainly the injuries are consistent with a serious assault."

Harris has pleaded not guilty and posted $75,000 bail after his arrest, Cintean said. Harris acknowledges he and Geier once were a couple, but says he struck Geier in self-defense, Cintean said.

"Mr. Geier first assaulted my client, and my client had a reasonable response to being assaulted," he said. "Unfortunately, Mr. Geier is the one who ended up with an injury."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.