Benjamin John Francis Fodor, aka “superhero” Phoenix Jones, will not be charged with misdemeanor assault for pepper-spraying a group of people in Pioneer Square last month, the Seattle City Attorney’s Office said today.
Problems proving the case compelled the decision not to charge Fodor, City Attorney Pete Holmes said in a news release.
Jones was arrested Oct. 9 after he allegedly pepper-sprayed four people he claimed were fighting near First Avenue and Columbia Street. According to police, a group of men and women were walking to their car when a man came up from behind and pepper-sprayed them.
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Police said two men in the group chased after Jones. When officers arrived, they separated everyone and arrested the costumed Jones.
Jones is the leader of the Rain City Superhero Movement, according to one of his Facebook pages, which boasts more than 10,000 “likes.” He claims he is a symbol “that the average person doesn’t have to walk around and see bad things and do nothing.” He wears a masked costume and identifies himself as “a crime fighter from Seattle.”
Holmes says his office had been unable to locate and interview two of the people pepper-sprayed. So he believes it would be difficult to convince a jury that Fodor intentionally sprayed everyone at the scene.
Complicating the investigation was Fodor’s claim that he was coming to the aid of some of the people involved in the altercation. State law allows a person to use force when coming to the aid of someone that he or she reasonably believes is about to be injured.
“However,” Holmes emphasized, “Mr. Fodor is no hero, just a deeply misguided individual. He has been warned that his actions put himself in danger, and this latest episode demonstrates that innocent bystanders can also be harmed.”