A Douglas County District Court judge ordered former Kansas basketball player Silvio De Sousa to stand trial in an aggravated battery case that goes back to a 2020 incident outside a bar in downtown Lawrence in which he is accused of hitting a man who later lost vision in his eye.
During Tuesday’s preliminary hearing, a judge determined there was probable cause to proceed to trial, De Sousa pleaded not guilty to the charge. His trial is scheduled for Aug. 2 and is expected to last around three days.
An affidavit supporting the charge says that a man told Lawrence police that he heard a man — later identified as De Sousa — arguing with two women outside Brothers Bar & Grill, 1105 Massachusetts St., and he told De Sousa to “shut the (expletive) up.” The man said De Sousa then punched him with a closed right fist.
De Sousa was originally seeking a diversion in the felony case, but those negotiations fell through.
The man who was injured was called to the stand this week and the Johnson County, Kansas resident said he exited the bar just after midnight to get some fresh air and he heard an argument between De Sousa and a female who was identified as De Sousa’s girlfriend. The two were also outside the bar, along with about 20 others.
An altercation followed, and the man said he was struck twice by De Sousa.
“It felt like my eye was getting hit with bricks,” he said. He said that immediately afterward, he was unable to see out of his left eye and that there was blood and “goo” coming out of it.
In their accounts, the various witnesses differed on several specifics of the incident. The man, for instance, said that De Sousa hit him with his fist, but three eyewitnesses — a bouncer, De Sousa’s girlfriend and a friend of De Sousa — all said that De Sousa slapped the man with an open hand. According to the probable-cause affidavit, De Sousa told police detectives in an interview that he had “swatted” at the man but missed him the first time, then did it again and struck him in his cheek, as the Journal-World previously reported.
Two medical professionals who testified both saw the injured man on the day of the incident and said blunt force trauma could have caused the eye injury the man suffered.
“He is not going to be able to see,” the ophthalmologist said. “Our goal right now is trying to prevent him from losing the eye itself.”