NEARLY TWO MONTHS after he found himself sprawled on a sidewalk at Portland State University, punch after punch hitting his face, musician Randy Grenawalt looks okay. The black eyes have healed, and people don't blanch when he tries to hawk his hip-hop CDs.
More importantly, the disorderly conduct charge he was slapped with after the May 31 scrum has been dropped, a turnabout that happened only after his public defender, Chris O'Connor, sent prosecutors a cell-phone video of the fight.
But here's what still stings, Grenawalt says: While he had to endure hours in jail, and then back-and-forth negotiations with the Multnomah County District Attorney's Office, the guy who beat him up hasn't faced any consequences at all.
And in a case that could raise questions about prosecutors' willingness to look beyond the initial account of a crime, even when new evidence is provided, the DA's office now says the other man, Ricardo Chaney—likely never will. No matter what the video shows.
"It was partially instigated by me," Grenawalt says, admitting he first poked a finger in Chaney's chest. "But he beat the crap out of me... The police didn't interview anybody else."
Chaney, who spoke with PSU cops first and is listed as the victim in a police report obtained by the Mercury, did not return messages seeking comment.
But according to accounts both men supplied to cops, they agree on how the fight started: Grenawalt was selling CDs (he gigs and records under the moniker Acheron Flow) near Smith Memorial Student Union when Chaney walked by and said he didn't want to buy Grenawalt's music. Grenawalt followed Chaney to a nearby streetcar stop and confronted him. They got loud, and then came the finger jabbed into Chaney's chest.
From there, the stories diverge. Chaney said Grenawalt looked like he had a weapon, and that he tackled Grenawalt to keep safe. Grenawalt, in a story mostly supported by the video, admitted to stashing brass knuckles in his back pocket and punching Chaney with his bare fist, but also said Chaney whaled on him before taking his phone, keys, and the brass knuckles. The video shows that when Grenawalt demanded his stuff back, Chaney pounded him anew.
Because the brass knuckles were Grenawalt's—never mind that cops found them only because Chaney took them—he was arrested, excluded from PSU, and taken to jail, eventually to be charged the next day, June 1.
"And nothing happens to this other guy," said O'Connor, who sent the video to prosecutors a week after the fight. "He's roaming the streets free to do what he wishes."
Jeff Howes, in charge of misdemeanors for the DA's office, wouldn't say the video led prosecutors to drop the disorderly conduct charge—"the video, I don't think, disproves disorderly conduct," he said, in fact—but did acknowledge the weapons charge (Grenawalt paid a $200 fine for possessing the brass knuckles) "was stronger."
"There's a lot of give and take, thrust and parry in negotiations," he said. "Mr. O'Connor suggested we take a look at the video, and he asked us to dismiss the charges."
But Howes defended his office's decision not to pursue Chaney, a decision he said Grenawalt initially agreed with. The video, he says, doesn't show how the fight started—leaving Grenawalt's jab as the official spark.
"I wish it was backed up a couple more minutes," said Howes.
Grenawalt, standing with a handful of CDs near Pioneer Square recently, seemed conflicted.
"I could go after this guy," he said. "But I'm not the type to seek revenge."