SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The man accused of throwing a banana peel at comedian Dave Chappelle during a New Mexico performance is headed to court.
Jury selection is scheduled for Sept. 23 for the trial of Christian Englander, Assistant District Attorney Anastasia Martin told the Santa Fe New Mexican newspaper Monday (http://goo.gl/rRyQ9I ).
Englander, 31, has been charged with disturbing the peace and battery after the fruit-throwing disturbance in March while Chappelle was on stage at the Lensic Performing Arts Center in Santa Fe.
The petty misdemeanors each carry a jail sentence of up to six months and a possible fine of $500.
Englander had acknowledged throwing a peel from a banana he had eaten earlier because he took offense to jokes that Chappelle made about his companion, according to police.
The friend reportedly was drawing in a sketchbook during the show when Chappelle noticed and asked the man his name, which he gave as “Johnny Appleseed.” Chappelle then made jokes about the moniker, and police say that’s why Englander got upset.
“If I can, I would like to avoid a trial,” Englander said Monday following a brief hearing before Judge Donita Sena in Magistrate Court. “I’m not afraid of the end result, but it’s a waste of human resources.”
There are “real criminals out there that they can try. If there is a plea offering, I’ll take it,” Englander said.
Englander’s attorney, Roderick Thompson, said while there is always the possibility of a plea bargain, he could not say more about it.
The case has taken on racial overtones and attracted widespread attention after Chappelle, who is black, said throwing the banana peel was a racist act.
Englander, who is white, said Monday that after the police apprehended him March 30, Chappelle came to the police station to interrogate him. There, Chappelle asked him, “Don’t you know bananas are racist?”
Englander said he told Chappelle, 41, that he did not agree and that Chappelle then responded with profanity-laced insults about Englander and his mother.
Lt. Andrea Dobyns of the Santa Fe Police Department confirmed that Chappelle appeared at the police station that night to talk to Englander.
A representative of the Gersh Agency, which represents Chappelle, declined to comment Monday.