Yeiner Perez, Nude BART Acrobat, Appears in Court
The infamous nude BART acrobat, Yeiner Perez Garizabalo, appeared in court this afternoon to face multiple charges, including battery and sexual battery, stemming from his not-so-flattering performance at the 16th Street BART station last month.
Perez is charged with two felonies of false imprisonment, four counts of battery while on public transportation and one count of sexual battery. Perez's lawyer, a public defender assigned to him at the arraignment, asked Judge Brendan Conroy to drop the felony charges to misdemeanors since there "were no injuries."
Conroy decided against lessening the charges and instead kept Perez's bail set at $100,000. The judge also said that if Perez posted bail, he would have to stay at least 150 yards from the 16th St BART station and the two people he allegedly attacked.
Perez was arrested Monday morning, less than a week after video footage of the naked acrobat went viral on the Internet. A BART worker recorded the scene from May 10, which shows the accused Perez attacking commuters in between performing naked acrobatic feats, including the splits across the turnstiles.
In the video, taken from inside the operator's booth, a naked Perez is seen jumping down the stairs into the BART station, attacking a young woman who runs into the booth to escape him. He then performed an odd acrobat show for afternoon commuters until the cops finally arrived and arrested him (he did get one last backflip in as the cops walked toward him).
Following the attack, Perez was arrested and, according to BART police, sent to California Pacific Medical Center for a psych evaluation. He was soon released from the hospital and taken into custody by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials since he is not a citizen. Perez reportedly overstayed his visa. However, Perez was not charged with a crime until the video -- which places him as the suspect -- was posted to YouTube last week.
Perez's friends and fellow circus performers attended today's hearing, and told the press they were there to show support for their fellow acrobat. Perez was part of the Berkeley-based troupe ClownSnotBombs Circus until last week when he was fired due to the bizarre incident.
His co-workers explain what they think was going on: Perez's antics were clearly a breakdown due to mounting financial stress. "He is a comedian, an artist, a human being," said Faeble Kievman, director at ClownSnotBombs Circus.
But more than anything, his friends said they are tired of seeing Perez depicted as a monster.
"If you just see the video it's easy to demonize him," said Nicolas Bell, Perez's friend. "But when you know him you see he is a nice and caring person."
Perez will be back in court for a preliminary hearing on July 18.