Kalen Christian D'Almeida and Braden Joel Ellis from the right-wing organization Turning Point USA ambushed ASU professor David Boyles as he exited his classroom on the university's Tempe campus on Oct. 11. D'Almeida questioned Boyles, while Ellis filmed the ambush with a cell phone. The encounter ended with Boyles hitting his head on the ground after being pushed by D'Almeida.
The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office charged D'Almeida with assault, disorderly conduct and harassment. Ellis received one charge of harassment. All the charges are misdemeanors. The two men pleaded not guilty on Dec. 18, according to court documents.
Jeanine L’Ecuyer, a spokesperson for the county attorney's office, told Phoenix New Times that although the office rarely prosecutes misdemeanors, it will handle the case since the incident happened at a public university.
A pretrial hearing is scheduled for Feb. 9.
Maricopa County Justice Courts spokesperson Scott Davis said the hearing is “just to get everyone an update on the case.” He added that such pretrial conferences typically take place between the prosecutor, defendant and/or their attorney.
‘David, you can’t run’D’Almeida and Ellis confronted Boyles on National Coming Out Day, following him for at least 90 seconds while D'Almeida peppered him with inflammatory questions. Ellis recorded the interaction with a cell phone.
"David, you can't run. It’s best if you just talk to me about why you want to push sodomy onto young people,” D’Almeida said as he pursued Boyles. “You would like to see a different America exist where little boys are sodomized by people like you.”
Footage of the encounter was edited and posted to Turning Point's account on X, formerly known as Twitter. It shows Boyles reaching toward the phone camera before the video cuts out.
Turning Point said the phone had a “disconnected wire that caused the video to cut out immediately.” The organization is claiming that Boyles assaulted the two men and has even sent fundraising emails using that narrative.
But security footage released by ASU, posted in a now-deleted YouTube video, shows what happened after the Turning Point video ends.
As Boyles nears Ellis, who is holding the phone, D’Almeida takes several steps toward Boyles and then pushes the professor to the ground. Boyles gets to his feet as a student runs to his aid. D’Almeida and Ellis continue to follow Boyles and the student as they exit the frame.
It wasn’t the first time Turning Point has targeted Boyles, who worked to establish a chapter of Drag Queen Story Hour in Arizona. Boyles currently is listed on Turning Point’s Professor Watchlist, which targets academics who teach "advance leftist propaganda in the classroom," according to Turning Point.
ASU President Michael Crow requested Turning Point remove ASU professors from the watchlist in April and referred to D’Almeida and Ellis as “cowards” and “bullies."
Boyles’ ambush prompted some ASU students to launch a petition to ban Turning Point from campus.
"Kalen and his cameraman did absolutely nothing wrong," Turning Point spokesperson Andrew Kolvet said on X. "We will vigorously defend them and look forward to taking this matter into a courtroom where the very clear video evidence documenting what actually happened will quickly prevail over ASU’s gaslighting and the media’s propaganda. Our team members will be vindicated."