Antioch mayor claims he was punched, councilwoman refutes it, accused man says Thorpe escalated situation

Thorpe prepares to leave the Sept. 27, 2022, council meeting early to catch a flight to Los Angeles which the man referred to in his initial comments to the mayor. Video screenshot.

Torres-Walker claims man shoved Thorpe aggressively, attempted to punch him; City’s PIO, Thorpe issue one-sided statement hour later; Antioch Police investigating; Chamber executive corrects reporting by Bay Area media

Allen D. Payton

Torres-Walker and Thorpe at the Antioch Chamber of Commerce event prior to the incident on Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2022. Photo by Allen D. Payton

Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe is accusing a man of punching him in the chest, Tuesday afternoon, following an event at which Thorpe spoke. The accused man, who chose to remain anonymous, says it was Thorpe who escalated the situation and he didn’t punch the mayor. That was later confirmed by District 1 Councilwoman Tamisha Torres-Walker saying the man pushed Thorpe aggressively. Yet, about an hour later, the city’s contracted public information officer, Rolando Bonilla was already speaking with, and Thorpe had issued a statement about the incident, to Bay Area media, which only reported the mayor’s side of the story.

Thorpe was one of two speakers at the Antioch Chamber of Commerce’s first State of Business luncheon at the Lone Tree Golf and Event Center, held earlier, beginning at 12:00 p.m. and ending at 1:45 p.m. (See related article)

The incident occurred sometime between 2:05 and 2:25 p.m. in the center’s north parking lot, according to the man who said he was at the golf course to distribute fliers for an upcoming community event. He said he later arrived at his doctor’s office in the nearby Bluerock Center at 2:28 p.m.

Thorpe issued the following statement about the alleged incident to KRON-4 News:

“I can confirm that the reports of my being punched at an event today are true. After giving a speech at a luncheon hosted by the Antioch Chamber of Commerce, I was aggressively approached by an older white male in his late 50’s. When it became clear that he was seeking a confrontation, I asked him to leave. As I attempted to walk away, the man punched me in the chest and was attempting to punch me a second time, but was not able to land his blow, as bystanders intervened to help me. Although shaken up, I am doing well. Violence has absolutely no place in the public discourse and will never be tolerated. My hope is that this individual is arrested and prosecuted. I would like to thank the bystanders who intervened for putting their own safety at risk to help me. I will never forget their kindness and support. I will be at tonight’s regularly scheduled meeting of the Antioch City Council.”

The man admitted starting the verbal spat with Thorpe but, denies punching him and said the mayor approached him and got in his face.

“I said to him, ‘nice to see you coming out of hiding’,” referring to Thorpe missing the last council meeting and leaving the previous one early. “He said, ‘I wasn’t in hiding’. Then Lamar walked up to me, got in my face and I asked him to please get out of my personal space. He didn’t, so I put my hand on his chest. I didn’t punch him. If I shoved him, it wasn’t very hard,” the man stated. “Then he called me a bigot. I didn’t say anything about his race.”

He claimed the verbal altercation was a continuation of an incident during this year’s Antioch July 4th event while he and his wife were listening to one of the bands perform and Thorpe approached him shook his hand aggressively and asked about the recall signature gathering – which had failed two months before – and for which the man says he signed one of the petitions.

According to a report by, “multiple witnesses have confirmed that no punches were thrown during the heated verbal exchange with one stating it could have been observed as a ‘hard push’ after the mayor got in the male’s face yelling at him. Another witness said no push even occurred but both men were in each other’s faces.”

Antioch Police Investigating

Asked for any details about the incident, Antioch Police Public Information Officer Darryl Saffold responded, “We aren’t releasing any details beyond all parties involved and all witnesses that were present are being interviewed or will be later interviewed. (The) investigation is active and ongoing.”

Asked for information once it’s available Saffold responded, “Not really anything to say. We will conduct the investigation and it will be sent to the DA’s office for review. It was an alleged misdemeanor not committed in the presence of an officer. We get statements and evidence and present it to the DA.”

No Cameras in Parking Lot

According to Lone Tree Golf Pro and General Manager Ron Parish, there are surveillance cameras inside the building, and the footage was reviewed. But there are no cameras in or pointing at the parking lot where the alleged incident occurred.

Chamber Says Accused Man Did Not Attend Event

Some Bay Area TV stations, including KRON-4, which published Bonilla’s comments and Thorpe’s statement about the incident at 3:21 p.m., and KTVU FOX-2 are claiming the incident occurred at the Chamber’s event and/or the accused man attended it. To clarify matters Antioch Chamber President and Executive Director Daniel Sohn stated, “This had nothing to do with the event. But it is overshadowing it. It was a nice event.”

“I and Ron Parish got pulled into a meeting by police officers. We were contacted by four witnesses,” Sohn explained.

“The Chamber is disappointed to learn about the incident that took place after the luncheon event,” he continued. “We don’t know what occurred, but one of the individuals involved did not attend the luncheon. The Chamber of Commerce does not condone any violence at all.”

“We will be cooperating with the police in their investigation,” Sohn added.

Questions for Thorpe, Bonilla, Torres-Walker

Thorpe was asked via email Tuesday night, “Did you approach him in the parking lot during a verbal dispute? If so, why didn’t you just walk away and de-escalate the situation as you want our police officers to do?”

He was also asked if the July 4th incident occur and for his version of it.

Finally, Thorpe was asked, “Other than Councilwoman Tamisha Torres-Walker, who were the other people with you and witnessed the alleged incident?”

Bonilla was asked if he had attended the Chamber event, if he was with Thorpe at the time of the alleged incident and if not, how could he confirm to the media that the incident occurred the way he claims.

He was then asked, “Are you the city’s or the mayor’s public information officer?”

Bonilla was also asked if he obtained the other side of the story and speak with the accused man before he confirmed Thorpe’s claims about the alleged incident.

In addition, Torres-Walker who the KRON-4 News report claims Bonilla said she “broke up the altercation”, was asked if she saw the man punch Thorpe in the chest.

She was also asked, “What exactly did you witness that occurred between the two men? What did you do or say to break up the altercation?”

In addition, Torres-Walker was asked if she recalled what time the alleged incident occurred, if she spoke with Bonilla following the alleged incident and what did she tell him.

Torres-Walker Confirms Thorpe Not Punched, Claims He Was Shoved Aggressively

At the end of Tuesday night’s council meeting Torres-Walker said, “My shoulder hurts, tonight. Today, I had to step in between Lamar Thorpe the mayor…the man. This man shoved him aggressively in the chest and attempted to punch him. Three women had to jump in the middle.”

She said the man was questioning Thorpe’s absence during the previous two council meetings, and that he was quoting a Herald article about it.

“The mayor said, ‘this conversation is over’ but it was not over,” Torres-Walker continued. “Even after three women broke it up, this man continued to aggressively pursue the mayor, the man, Lamar Thorpe.”

Thorpe was then emailed one more question in light of what Torres-Walker said asking if he still stands by his claim that the man punched him in the chest.

Neither Thorpe nor Bonilla responded by 9:15 AM Wednesday.

Wednesday morning Thorpe was emailed a few more questions asking about him calling the man a bigot. “Is that true? Did he say something about your race or skin color? If not, why would you call him that for asking you about ‘coming out of hiding’ after you had missed part or all of the past two council meetings?”

Please check back later for any updates to this report.

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Torres-Walker & Thorpe at Chamber event 102522

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