A man who told police that he and his brother were beaten and threatened by three off-duty San Diego firefighters testified Wednesday that the incident started when one of the defendants made a derogatory comment about the alleged victim's sexual orientation as he left a bar in Normal Heights.
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Luis Martinez took the witness stand as a preliminary hearing got under way for Vadid Cisneros, 37, Andrew Brennen, 30, and Gregory Econie, 26, who each face up to nine years in prison if convicted of assault, robbery and making criminal threats.
Martinez, 44, testified that he was coming out of the Ould Sod bar on Adams Avenue near 34th Street in the early morning hours of Feb. 26 when he saw a man and a woman kissing and snapped a photo with his cell phone camera.
As he was unlocking his bicycle from a stand, Martinez said Brennen called him a "bicycle faggot," and he responded with "Go (expletive) yourself."
Martinez said another man, identified as Cisneros, approached and told him, "Come here, shake my hand. My friend's cool."
The witness said he responded, "(Expletive) you. Your friend's an ass----."
Martinez said the defendants pursued him on foot as he rode his bicycle eastbound on Adams Avenue. He said he crossed the street to talk to a friend in his car, where he was jumped from behind and punched all over his body.
As his attackers left, Martinez said he called his older brother Willie, who convinced him to go home rather than pursue the trio.
Martinez said as he and his brother rode their bicycles south on 34th Street, he was yanked off his bike from behind by Cisneros.
As the two struggled with each other on the ground, Cisneros yelled to Martinez "to let go of his hands so he could beat the crap out of me," the witness testified.
Martinez said he was knocked unconscious and woke up to see all three defendants kicking, beating and elbowing his brother, who was on all fours.
"I saw all three of them kicking him, punching him, using their elbows, jumping on him like MMA fighters and hitting him in the back of his head with their elbows ... I was yelling, Stop, you're going to kill him. It's over. You win," Martinez testified.
The witness said the defendants told him and his brother that they "will kill us if they saw us in the neighborhood" or area bars.
Martinez said Brennan took his brother's bicycle saying, "Give me that damn bike. It's mine now."
As they walked north of 34th Street, Cisneros kicked Willie Martinez in the buttocks and said "Move it fatso" in Spanish, Luis Martinez testified.
The witness said Cisneros pushed his brother against a wall and pulled some identification from his wallet and said, "We got you, (expletive). We know where you live."
Luis Martinez said his brother told him Cisneros pulled out a photo of his son and said, "We'll kill your son too."
As they reached Adams Avenue, a man yelled at the defendants to leave the brothers alone, Luis Martinez testified.
Willie Martinez was taken to a hospital for treatment of his injuries. Luis Martinez identified the defendants as the alleged attackers after their arrest a short time later.
Defense attorneys said the alleged victims were the aggressors in the case, and the defendants fought back in self-defense.
The defendants remain on duty while the case is pending.
At the end of the preliminary hearing, Judge Frederic Link will decide whether enough evidence was presented for the defendants to proceed to trial. Testimony is expected to go into next week.
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