Driver in Comic-Con ‘Zombie Walk’ collision pleads not guilty

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SAN DIEGO -- A deaf man accused of deliberately plowing through a crowd at the “Zombie Walk” during last summer's Comic-Con convention, seriously injuring a woman, pleaded not guilty Tuesday to a felony charge of reckless driving causing great bodily injury.

Matthew Pocci, 47, faces three years in state prison if convicted.

Deputy District Attorney Anthony Campagna said Pocci -- who had worked at the Comic-Con convention earlier -- came upon several hundred adults, teenagers and children participating in the annual “Zombie Walk'' parade near the intersection of Island and 2nd avenues the evening of July 26.

Campagna said Pocci stopped his car about two to three car lengths behind the parade-goers -- some dressed in Halloween-type costumes -- and turned the car engine off.

According to a witness, Pocci became frustrated and angry after several minutes of waiting and proceeded to edge his car into the crowd at a slow rate of speed, the prosecutor said.

Some people in the crowd turned to Pocci as if to say “What are you doing?'', then two people sat on the defendant's left front fender, Campagna said.

“He (Pocci) then immediately thereafter floored his car and struck several of the people who were directly in front of his car, essentially running over one woman, causing serious injuries to her arm and leg,'' the prosecutor alleged outside court.

After Pocci allegedly sped into the crowd's midst, cellphone video shows one person who had been sitting on the defendant's car punching the vehicle, Campagna said.

Pocci -- who stayed at the scene -- was not initially cited, but the District Attorney's Office reviewed the case and last month sent the defendant a letter informing him of the charge.

In an online interview, Pocci said he feared for his safety when people were jumping and punching his car. Pocci said someone even opened the back door of the car and he was scared for himself, his girlfriend and a 9-year-old boy in the vehicle.

Pocci filed a claim that alleges the city of San Diego created dangerous conditions during an unpermitted event.

Judge David Szumowski allowed Pocci to remain free on his own recognizance and scheduled a preliminary hearing for May 28. A readiness conference was set for May 7.

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