Video expected in falling football fan's trial

Updated: 06/11/2014 7:06 PM
Created: 06/11/2014 6:29 AM WHEC.com
By: Associated Press

Widely circulated video of a Buffalo Bills fan's fall from an upper stadium deck onto a man below will be only part of the footage jurors see when the falling fan goes on trial for assault and reckless endangerment, a prosecutor said Wednesday.

Opening statements are scheduled for Thursday in the trial of Robert Hopkins, who could receive up to a year in jail if convicted of the misdemeanor charges.

A six-member jury was seated Wednesday in Town Court, where several prospective jurors told lawyers they avoided football games because of the alcohol-fueled rowdy behavior of fans.

Hopkins, 29, was sliding down a railing during the Nov. 17 game against the New York Jets when he tumbled backward about 30 feet to the section below and landed on a man, injuring the man's head, neck and back. Hopkins was not seriously hurt.

The injured fan, along with his physical therapist and a neurosurgeon, will testify at the criminal trial, lawyers said. The man also has filed a civil lawsuit.

After stadium video of the fall began making the rounds online, Hopkins was fired from his public relations job and permanently banned from the stadium. Prosecutor G. Michael Drmacich said Hopkins had slid several times before losing his balance and told jurors there was additional video.

"I'll tell you right now, Rob's the guy. He fell from the upper deck to the lower deck," defense attorney Patrick Brown said during jury selection. "There's a lot in this case that's not in dispute."

But the lawyer indicated Hopkins' actions may not have constituted a crime.

Hopkins, who sat quietly at the defense table through the daylong jury selection, declined to speak with reporters afterward.

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