A man who allegedly caused fatal injuries to another passenger aboard an MTS bus in downtown San Diego pleaded not guilty Tuesday to an involuntary manslaughter charge.
Edward Hilbert, 55, is accused in the April 30, 2022, death of 28-year-old Anthony Mcgaffe, who died about an hour after police say they were called in response to "a violent disturbance" aboard a bus in the area of 1400 F St.
Police said Mcgaffe was found lying on the floor of the bus, unresponsive. He was taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead.
According to San Diego police, Mcgaffe apparently "became involved in an altercation with a female passenger" on the bus, and Hilbert intervened by restraining Mcgaffe for "several minutes."
During that time, Mcgaffe "lost consciousness, went into medical distress and ultimately died," San Diego police Lt. Steve Shebloski said.
Hilbert was arrested on suspicion of murder, but the San Diego County District Attorney's Office did not immediately file charges in the case.
Though no new specific details regarding the fatal encounter were shared in court during Hilbert's Tuesday afternoon arraignment, Deputy District Attorney Matthew Greco said that Hilbert "was involved in a lawful act that he committed in an unlawful manner."
The prosecutor said outside court, "It is important to understand that when one gets involved to protect someone else, that that isn't carte blanche to commit any act, that there are limits."
Hilbert, who remains out of custody, faces up to four years in state prison if convicted.
Defense attorney Heather Boxeth said after the hearing, "We are extremely disappointed in the district attorney's office for charging what turned out to be a tragic accident."
According to the attorney, Hilbert was not the only passenger aboard the bus "aiding in defense of a woman being attacked."
"I think this does make it very clear that you do not want to act as a Good Samaritan ... it sends a very poor community statement," Boxeth said.