DES MOINES, Iowa — A Channel 13 reporter says she suffered a mild concussion after she was assaulted in Des Moines’ Court Avenue District last month.
On Monday, police arrested 20-year-old Riley VerSteegh and 22-year-old Sydney Stuart. They are both accused of assaulting Maria Lisignoli along Fourth Street on May 6th. VerSteegh is charged with assault causing injury, and Stuart is charged with simple assault. A third suspect identified does not face any charges.
Lisignoli says she was with friends waiting for a cab when she saw a group of people fighting. She was not working at the time, but says that’s when her journalistic instincts kicked in.
“I just wanted to document what was going on in case something really bad did happen,” she says.
The victim captured video of the fight on her cell phone. In the video, one woman notices the fight being recorded, confronts Lisignoli, and tries taking the cell phone from her hand. Stuart, one of the women arrested, tells Channel 13 she lashed out because she was angry Lisignoli was filming despite being told to stop. From there, Lisignoli says things quickly turned violent.
“The fight started kind of breaking up and three of the girls kind of back away and start walking toward me,” she says. “At that point I’m like, okay, people are angry, I should back off, so I turn away and one of them winds up and hits me in the back of the head, and I fall against a car,” she says.
The day after the incident, doctors diagnosed her with a mild concussion. The Today in Iowa reporter says she missed worked and suffered from fatigue and headaches for several weeks.
Des Moines Police urge witnesses to be safe while capturing what could be potentially important evidence. Sergeant Paul Parizek says people choosing to record the evidence need to weigh their options before doing so.
“People need to ask themselves, one, does it make me vulnerable, am I looking at my screen when I should be looking at my surroundings? And two, is it really worth the risk that I’m putting myself in,” he says.
Channel 13 reached out to VerSteegh but did not hear back.