Charges have been dismissed against a Corte Madera man accused of attacking a paralyzed house guest with a box of macaroni and cheese, and the alleged victim says the whole thing was "just a misunderstanding."

John Jeffrey O'Connor, 49, was arrested at about 4 a.m. May 16 after an incident at his apartment on Corte Madera Avenue. The paralyzed man, Tom Umphreys, was staying there as a guest on a short-term basis because his living arrangements were in flux.

During an argument between the men, Central Marin police responded and arrested O'Connor, alleging that he punched Umphreys.

O'Connor posted bail and returned home. Another argument broke out, and police quickly returned and arrested O'Connor again, this time alleging that he pushed a box of macaroni and cheese in Umphreys' face.

Prosecutors filed charges against O'Connor, who was able to post bail a second time. In an interview outside court, he said he shook the macaroni box at Umphreys but did not push it in his face.

On Thursday, the district attorney's office dismissed the charges against O'Connor as part of a plea deal in another pending case, in which he was charged with felony stalking against a 69-year-old Sausalito man who fired him as a caregiver. O'Connor admitted to a misdemeanor harassment charge and received no additional jail time.

Umphreys, in a phone interview Friday from his new residence in Santa Rosa, said the police "totally overreacted," though


Advertisement

he acknowledged it was he who called the police after the macaroni incident. He said O'Connor did not push the box in his face, just tapped him with it.

"I'm a big boy. I didn't need to make a big deal out of it," said Umphreys, 49. He said he did not change his story and was not pressured to do so.

Umphreys - who was paralyzed from the waist down in a Jan. 7 rollover crash on the Cotati grade - said the end result was that he was forced to leave O'Connor's apartment, ended up at a motel in San Rafael, and got robbed of $200.

O'Connor also says he was evicted from the apartment as a result of the incident. He and his son have 20 days to find a new place, he said Friday.

He said he was just trying to help Umphreys because he had fallen through the cracks of the medical system and had nowhere to stay. Instead, the good deed turned into a legal "nightmare."

"I'm trying to be a settled parent of four children, and this comes up," O'Connor said. "I'm so embarrassed. I couldn't be more embarrassed."

Contact Gary Klien via email at gklien@marinij.com or https://twitter.com/GaryKlien

---

©2013 The Marin Independent Journal (Novato, Calif.)

Visit The Marin Independent Journal (Novato, Calif.) at www.marinij.com