The driver who plowed through a group of people during a 2014 Comic-Con "Zombie Walk" downtown said Monday he didn't believe a sign language interpreter taking his police report understood what he wanted to say when filing the report.
Matthew Pocci is on trial for a felony reckless driving charge. The case hinges on whether he plowed through the group out of anger and frustration or was frightened and intended no malice.
Pocci said the officer who took his police report at the time misunderstood some of the things he was trying to communicate.
"I'm fluent; I use my body, I use my signs, I use my facial expressions for everything," Pocci said through an ALS interpreter. "And how he was trying to interpret what I was saying, I'm not really sure that he got everything correct."
Pocci said when he looked back over the police report, he was surprised.
"When I saw the police report, I said, 'I never said that,'" Pocci testified.
San Diego Police Officer Jeff Gross, the officer Pocci was referring to, testified that at the time of the accident he was ALS certified after he passed a test about a decade before the crash, but did not have required classes to keep his certification updated.
At the scene, he spoke to Pocci, his girlfriend April and her sister briefly. They were moved to Downtown headquarters for a longer interview because Pocci feared the crowd would hurt them.
Gross did not record the interview or take notes, but later used his memory to write a report.
Gross said he thought Pocci signed the word "anger" but asked for clarification and spelled out "frustration" by signing. Pocci was "frustrated" because he couldn't communicate with the crowd the way he wanted to.
Officer Paulette Sotuak also took the stand, right before Gross. She testified she dated Pocci in the 90s for about three months before she got pregnant. Their son is now 23 years old.
She testified Pocci gets angry easily and they both have strong minds and strong beliefs, which caused them to struggle -- it was one of several reasons why their relationship ended.
She said her anger with Pocci stemmed from him trying to manipulate and control situations.
On the stand, Pocci testified about his knowledge of traffic situations. He said that at a stoplight, pedestrians have the right of way, but at an intersection, both cars and pedestrians have the right of way as long as the traffic is controlled, based off his understanding. He did not believe it was illegal to honk if he feared for his safety.
Witnesses in the trial are being asked to figure out when Pocci's fear came into play and whether it was before or after he restarted his car engine and drove forward.