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Harris faces charges over fight

 
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SAN FRANCISCO (AP)

Former San Francisco 49er Kwame Harris has been charged with felony domestic violence and assault charges from an August beating involving a former boyfriend, a prosecutor and defense lawyer said.

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Following a pretrial hearing in the case Monday, 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.

The charges stem from an altercation outside a Menlo Park restaurant between Harris, 30, and Dimitri Geier, who suffered several facial fractures that required surgery, Serrato said. Geier reportedly has filed a civil suit against Harris for assault, battery, false imprisonment, negligence and both intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress.

According to a report by the San Mateo Daily Journal, Harris and Geier had been involved in a romantic relationship but were just friends when they met at Su Hong restaurant. Harris, who intended to drive Geier to San Francisco International Airport, became upset when Geier poured soy sauce on a plate of rice, according to the civil suit.

The men argued, the suit states, and Harris decided not to take Geier to the airport. As the men left, Harris reportedly tried to pull Geier's pants down and accused him of stealing his underwear.

Harris, who is listed at 6-foot-7 and 240 pounds in the police report, and Geier (listed at 6-foot-1 and 220 pounds) then fought, the suit states, with both men throwing punches. However, Harris punched Geier in the face several times until he fell, the suit states.

Geier reportedly was taken to an emergency room in San Jose. He had surgery to repair broken orbital bones, The Daily Journal reported.

Harris' lawyer, Alin Cintean, told The Daily Journal that Harris was charged because Geier was injured. "This really is a pure self-defense case. He was attacked," Cintean said of Harris. "We're looking forward to having this proven in court and clearing his name."

Harris also has filed a legal response to Geier's lawsuit denying all claims, The Daily Journal reported.

Although a handful of former NFL players have come out as gay, none has while still wearing a uniform. 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.''

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