UO student, 20, pleads not guilty to strangulation charge

A University of Oregon student plead not guilty to strangulation on Friday after allegedly choking a man until the man blacked out at the Patterson Medical building, four blocks from campus.

According to a probable cause affidavit filed in Lane County Circuit Court, Hunter Hastings, a 20-year-old economics major, was caught on video on March 31 grabbing a man by the neck with both hands, forcing him to the ground and choking him with his right arm until the man lost consciousness. The video shows the man on the floor motionless for approximately 25 seconds after Hastings got off of him, the affidavit states.

Eugene Police responded to the fight before 5:28 p.m. and interviewed both the man who was choked and Hastings, who each told the officer that they got into a verbal argument. Hastings told the officer that the man was calling him a “bitch,” so Hastings pushed him in the chest with both hands, according to the affidavit. Hastings said he felt threatened and used a “legal chokehold to subdue” the man.

The man separately told the officer that out of nowhere Hastings grabbed him by his neck with both hands and squeezed, according to the affidavit. He told the officer that Hastings pushed him backward by his neck, so he “swung at” Hastings, then Hastings took him to the ground and choked him until he blacked out. The man said he woke up confused.

The officer observed a scratch on the right side of the man’s neck and bruising on both sides and booked Hastings on a misdemeanor strangulation charge.

Hastings plead not guilty to the strangulation charge during his arraignment Friday morning. A pre-trial conference hearing is scheduled for June 1 at 2:30 p.m with Judge Karsten Rasmussen, a pro tem law instructor at UO who is currently teaching insurance law.

Rasmussen has been busy in court as well as the classroom. In the past month, he has sentenced a man to life in prison for the murder of a Eugene woman, reassigned a Lane County judge who is accused of bias, and told a Springfield teacher who was arrested for intoxicated driving and cocaine possession that she would have to plead guilty, instead no contest, if she wanted wanted the DUII charge diverted.

Hastings’ citation lists his home address as a room inside the Patterson Medical building. The fight took place inside the lobby.

Hastings could not be reached by phone for comment.

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Kenny Jacoby

Kenny Jacoby

Kenny is the senior sports editor for the Emerald. He spent two years studying computer and information science before changing his major to journalism. He also freelances for the Register-Guard, interns for the Eugene Weekly and works as a research assistant for UO journalism professor Seth Lewis.