Security officer initially told police he struck CWRU student in self-defense

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CLEVELAND , Ohio -- The Case Western Reserve University security officer who university officials said attacked a graduate student on campus Tuesday initially told responding police officers he acted in self-defense.

According to a report from Case Western Reserve University police, officers responded to a report of a fight at Hessler Court and Bellflower Road around 11 p.m.

The report states mobile patrolman Robert Peterson III, 26, told officers he'd been assaulted by a student and struck the student in self-defense.

Police observed Peterson's hand was bleeding, and they later found graduate student Matthew Villaluz, 32, nearby with blood coming from his mouth, according to the report. Both men were transported to a local hospital.

In a campus-wide email Thursday, CWRU President Barbara R. Snyder said a "security officer assaulted one of our graduate students...an investigation is ongoing, but so far it appears that the employee also verbally threatened students and was belligerent with other individuals."

The president's letter states university police took Peterson to the hospital for evaluation after "he became increasingly agitated."

"To have anyone suffer intimidation or violence on our campus is terrible enough; to have attacks come from an employee is truly awful," Snyder wrote.

In a statement on the discrepancy between what Peterson said in the police report and the president's letter to students, a Case Western Reserve University spokesperson said:

“The original report accurately reflects the security officer’s initial claim of self-defense. As officers continued their investigation, a much different account emerged. Sent the following day, Snyder’s email includes the additional information that was gathered.”

The case has been handed over to Cleveland police.

Someone who answered the door at Peterson's Maple Heights home Friday morning declined to comment.

Read more here. 

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