Black Lives Matter rally battery suspects plead not guilty |

Black Lives Matter rally battery suspects plead not guilty

Two men charged with misdemeanor battery in connection with an Aug. 9 Black Lives Matter demonstration in Nevada City pleaded not guilty in court Monday.

A third defendant facing a felony assault charge, meanwhile, is set to be arraigned Oct. 19, court records state.

Randy Matheson and Joseph Alves, both 48 and from Grass Valley, were set to be arraigned in Nevada County Superior Court and were represented instead by their attorneys, who appeared via Zoom.

Matheson’s defense attorney, David Dratman, told Superior Court Judge Linda Sloven he is still waiting for the District Attorney’s office to turn over the video evidence. Alves’ attorney, David Fischer, said he had the videos but still was conducting some additional investigation.

Both men, already free on bond, were released on their own recognizance. Their next court hearing is Nov. 9.

After the Aug. 9 rally, multiple videos surfaced of apparent assaults. Nevada City Police Chief Chad Ellis launched an investigation in partnership with the Grass Valley Police Department, the Nevada County Sheriff’s Office and the District Attorney’s Office.

Matheson is alleged to have sucker-punched or slapped a man on the side of the head, while Alves is alleged to have confronted a BLM protester and forcibly ripped a sign away, Nevada County Assistant District Attorney Chris Walsh has said.

A third defendant — James Steven Smith, 40 — was arrested Aug. 14 and charged with felony robbery and assault likely to cause great bodily injury. He’s since been released on a $100,000 bond, reports state.

Smith is alleged to have body slammed one victim and thrown him to the ground, as well as having forcibly taken a cell phone from another victim, Walsh said at the time of his arrest.

Contact reporter Liz Kellar at 530-477-4236 or by email at

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