Columbus Short was ordered to stand trial on a felony battery charge after a witness testified that the former “Scandal” actor delivered a running punch on a man who wasn’t looking his direction.
Superior Court Commissioner Mark Zuckman ruled Tuesday that prosecutors had shown enough evidence to support the charge, but expressed doubts about the credibility of some of the testimony from the man Short attacked.
Short struck Fenton Hyche III in the parking lot of a Los Angeles bar on March 15. Hyche suffered a concussion and fractured eye socket after arguing with Short at a family gathering at the bar.
The actor’s attorney, Michael M. Levin, argued his client was acting in self-defense because Hyche was prepared to fight Short. However, Hyche’s father had intervened and was holding his son’s forearms when the actor delivered the punch, according to testimony Tuesday.
“He jumped up and hit him,” Hyche’s cousin Jacqueline Cheng testified, breaking down in tears as she described the blow. Hyche briefly stopped breathing after hitting his head on the pavement, she said. “I thought he was dead.”
Hyche said he and Short had started a heated discussion inside the bar but that he was going outside to leave with Cheng, who drove him to the gathering. Hyche said he couldn’t remember several aspects of his argument with Short, but acknowledged after Zuckman questioned him that he had taken off his jersey and was prepared to fight the actor.
Hyche acknowledged he was arguing with Short about money and said he “felt like he was being belittled.” He said in response to questions from Short’s attorney that he didn’t remember throwing money at Short’s wife at one point or taunting the actor.
Cheng said she didn’t see any indications the men were arguing until they were leaving the bar.
Zuckman said Hyche’s testimony about the argument was “less than credible,” but said it didn’t change the fact that Short punched a man who was standing down and was apparently focused on his father.
Cheng said Hyche, who had several drinks the night of the altercation, was apologizing to his father for arguing with Short when he was punched.
Zuckman rejected a request by Levin to call Hyche’s father to the witness stand, saying it wouldn’t change the outcome of Tuesday’s ruling. Short is scheduled to return to court for arraignment on Jan. 6.
The commissioner is allowing Short to travel to Louisiana for a role at the end of the month. Zuckman had previously ordered Short to remain in California after the actor missed the original date of his preliminary hearing.
Levin said he did not know what Short’s upcoming acting role would be. Short, 32, left “Scandal” after being charged in a separate domestic violence case and for hitting Hyche.
Short left the courthouse immediately after the hearing and was not available for comment.