Hamer, O'Reilly

Samantha Hamer, left, and Kerida O'Reilly

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Tips from a former physical therapy client and from co-workers led police to the identities of two women who were arrested for the alleged attack on state Sen. Tim Carpenter last month during a Downtown protest, according to court documents filed Wednesday.

The pair, Kerida E. O’Reilly, 33, and Samantha R. Hamer, 26, both of Madison, were charged Wednesday with substantial battery as party to a crime for the alleged attack on Carpenter, D-Milwaukee, early on June 24. Carpenter told police he was attempting to take pictures of the protest, but accidentally took a short video instead, when he was attacked after being pointed out by protesters, according to a criminal complaint filed in Dane County Circuit Court.

The complaint indicates there were likely others involved in the attack who have not yet been identified, in particular one or two men who may have struck Carpenter initially as part of a larger group.

O’Reilly told police she had only met Hamer that night and only knew her as “Sam.” She also identified herself and Hamer to police in photos she was shown. The complaint does not contain any statement from Hamer.

They were arrested on Monday after turning themselves in to Madison police, but the complaint states police had already been in contact with O’Reilly at her home. At that point, the complaint states, O’Reilly said she had “a pretty good idea” why police were visiting her.

O’Reilly and Hamer appeared in court Wednesday and were released from custody on signature bonds. They are banned from the Capitol Square — a condition their attorneys objected to on free speech grounds — and are to have no contact with Carpenter or one another.

Their lawyers asked that their cases be dismissed because of insufficient evidence in the complaint linking them to the battery, even as parties to the crime. Court Commissioner Brian Asmus denied the motions, saying that at this early stage statements in the complaint are sufficient to move the cases along.

A preliminary hearing for the two was scheduled for Aug. 6.

The complaint states that Carpenter initially believed he may have had a concussion. He sustained a hairline fracture to his nose, some bumps on his head and general soreness.

The alleged attack on Carpenter happened the same night protesters, rallying against police violence, tore down statutes of abolitionist and Union Civil War hero Hans Christian Heg and an allegorical figure called “Forward” on the state Capitol grounds.

Rushed by group

According to the complaint:

Carpenter went to the Capitol after the alleged assault and told police there he was “just attacked by the group.”

He told police he had parked in the 200 block of West Main Street and went to his trunk looking for a baseball cap, but couldn’t find it. Carpenter said he took out his cellphone to take a photo of the group in the street, but accidentally took video. At that point, he said, people rushed toward him.

He said someone grabbed at his phone while another slapped it out of his hands. He said he was then punched and fell to the ground. After he fell, Carpenter said, he felt several more punches and one or two kicks, then the attack stopped.

Carpenter said he was trying to tell the group who he was and that he supports peaceful protest. Some questioned him about what was in his trunk, so he said he popped open his trunk with his key fob to show them nothing was there.

Eventually, Carpenter got his phone and glasses back. He turned down an ambulance to a hospital and stayed at the Capitol until the early morning hours, when he drove home.

Pair identified

A witness who wished to remain anonymous told police she could identify O’Reilly with 75% certainty as the woman on the video Carpenter took. She said she had several sessions with O’Reilly, who was her physical therapist.

O’Reilly used to work elsewhere but now has a physical therapy practice with her mother, according to the practice’s website.

Another person called police to identify O’Reilly as a physical therapist. That person said O’Reilly had deleted a lot of her social media since the alleged assault. Another anonymous caller also told police he or she recognized O’Reilly.

Hamer was identified by an anonymous co-worker at Mount Horeb High School, where Hamer is a school social worker. In addition to recognizing Hamer’s face, the person said, the co-worker recognized Hamer’s voice on the video as the person telling Carpenter to “delete it.” That person checked with other co-workers who confirmed it was Hamer in photos police released to the public.

A student services administrator who is Hamer’s supervisor also identified Hamer to police. Other sources also confirmed Hamer’s identity.

District Superintendent Steve Salerno said in an email that Hamer, who was hired in January 2019, is not working for the district over the summer. He did not immediately clarify what that means. A district staff person said Hamer is on administrative leave.

City street cameras witnessed events before and after the attack, but not the attack itself, which was out of view. Video from one camera picked up a woman fitting Hamer’s description pointing toward Carpenter, then two seconds later she and a woman fitting O’Reilly’s description ran toward him. A group of several others followed the initial two.

This article originally ran on madison.com.

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