A Villa Park High School wrestling coach pleaded not guilty Friday to charges that allege he choked and punched a student wrestler on campus.
Emmanuel Hugo Hernandez, 26, of Orange was charged with one felony count each of child abuse and battery causing serious bodily injury, according the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.
Hernandez was arrested Wednesday after allegedly grabbing a 17-year-old member of the wrestling team during afternoon practice and placing him in a choke hold until the student went unconscious, the sheriff’s department said.
Hernandez, a “walk-on” wrestling coach, was accused of punching the unconscious student twice in the head, leaving a visible injury near his right ear, according to authorities.
“I didn’t know if he was passed out because he just stopped moving, then the coach let go of him. Then he just, like, cracked him three times out of nowhere,” said a student witness, senior Kevin Walton. “It was really weird.”
The coach said that the victim was his cousin, “Jacob,” but that was not the student involved, Walton said. Hernandez appeared disoriented, Walton said.
The student was taken to a local hospital for treatment after Hernandez fled the scene.
Being held on $100,000 bail, Hernandez faces up to six years in prison. He was arraigned in the Central Jail in Santa Ana.
According to his Facebook profile, Hernandez graduate from Villa Park High in 2005.
KTLA’s Anthony Kurzweil and Melissa Pamer contributed to this report.