OAKLAND, Calif. (KTVU) - A jogger seen on video throwing a homeless man's belongings into the trash and into Oakland's Lake Merritt has been arrested and charged, but for a completely different incident.
Henry Sintay, 30, of Oakland, was taken into custody for allegedly stealing a cell phone that Matt Nelson was using to record a Facebook Live video of their conversation.
Authorities say Sintay grabbed Nelson's cell phone on Saturday evening on the north edge of Lake Merritt.
"Hey! Are you out of your mind?" Nelson yells.
"I just want to see if you're recording," Sintay replies.
As the two men begin scuffling, Nelson shouts, "I'm being attacked here!" and then "Help!"
Nelson said he suffered a mild concussion, some cuts and bruises and strained muscles.
Nelson was asking Sintay about the now viral incident captured the day before.
In that video, Sintay is seen taking a homeless man's belongings and then throwing them in the lake and in the trash.
Nelson asked Sintay about what happened.
"Well, this guy has taken a permanent residence over here," Sintay says.
Nelson then asks whether Sintay threw the man's things into the lake as some witnesses say he did.
Sintay replies, "No, I cleaned up his s- and then some other s- fell in."
Sintay is then asked why he's removing the man's items from the lake.
"I don't want to pollute the lake," Sintay says. "Do you?"
In the video, Nelson isn't confrontational and even chuckles moments before the scuffle.
Oakland police arrested Sintay on Monday afternoon on suspicion of robbery. The Alameda County District Attorney's Office charged Sintay a felony count of second-degree robbery for taking the cell phone.
Police said on Wednesday that Chief Anne Kirkpatrick was made aware of the video that was circulating on the internet. She immediately contacted the Criminal Investigation Division commander to order an investigation into the matter.
"Investigators were able to identify the victim and additionally offered resources. Further investigation led to the identification of the suspect male," police said in a statement.
On Facebook, Nelson said of the incident, "I'm relieved that one of the men who robbed and assaulted me (Henry) has been taken into custody. He should be held accountable for his actions... While what happened to me was horrible, it does not begin to compare with the daily mistreatment of our neighbors who are unhoused, homeless, or unsheltered."
Oakland City Councilmember Abel Guillen, who represents the Lake Merritt area, agreed, saying, "Whatever his motivation was, the jogger's behavior is socially unacceptable, personally cruel - and illegal." He added, "Our shared crisis around homelessness and the lack of affordable housing is very stressful on individuals and on our community as a whole. That is no excuse, however, to stoop to physical violence or destruction of someone else's belongings. And it's equally unacceptable for people to trash our beloved Lake Merritt."
OPD arrested the suspect responsible for throwing a homeless man’s belongings into Lake Merritt. The Alameda County District Attorney’s Office charged the case. The Oakland Police Department serves all of our community. pic.twitter.com/R4letLNAYu— Oakland Police Dept. (@oaklandpoliceca) June 13, 2018