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Saturday, March 25, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Fight could lead to deportation

Times Snohomish County bureau Reporters

An Everett High School senior could be deported to Mexico if he is convicted of a felony assault charge for pushing an Everett Police officer during a March 6 fight outside the school.

Rogelio Hernandez, 18, was charged with third-degree assault in Snohomish County Superior Court on Thursday for checking an officer with his upper body and knocking her to the ground, according to charging papers.

The alleged assault happened during a fight between two girls outside Everett High School on March 6 and reignited tensions between school administrators and Latino students, whose families last year filed 12 complaints with the school district alleging discriminatory treatment.

An independent investigator found no overt racism, but said a "disconnect" existed between minority students, staff and administrators.

The incident started with two girls pulling hair and escalated into a near-riot, police said, with 60 to 100 students taunting administrators and police.

Hernandez's lawyer, Michael Schwartz, said the young man touched the police officer, but his intent was to come to the aid of one of the girls, who Hernandez said had been grabbed by the hair and thrown to the ground by the officer.

"Things were really chaotic," Schwartz said.

Hernandez "wasn't focused on who was doing it, he just wanted to get that person to stop harming his friend."

Hernandez, a legal resident of the U.S., has been in the country five years and could be sent back to Mexico if convicted, Schwartz said. He has no criminal history, according to charging papers.

Latino families said a grainy cellphone video of the fight shows Hernandez being kicked by an unidentified man as he is pinned to the ground by police.

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Everett Police Sgt. Boyd Bryant disputed that version of the video and said it may be a downed police officer who is being kicked. He said police did a forensic color analysis of the coat of the kicker and it is brown. He said all of Everett's officers wear blue and all the officers at the fight were in uniform.

Hispanic families have filed complaints with police over their handling of the incident, but Everett Police Chief Jim Scharf said Monday his officers "acted with restraint."

Hernandez is scheduled to be arraigned April 6.

Brian Alexander: 425-745-7845 or balexander@seattletimes.com

Lynn Thompson: 425-745-7807 or lthompson@seattletimes.com

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