Details Emerge of Alleged Hate Incident, Police Misconduct in March 6 UC Davis Arrest

police-lineLast night at the Davis Human Relations Commission meeting, students expanded on a police incident that occurred Thursday, March 6 between 7:15 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. on Orchard Park Road involving a Hispanic student and a Muslim student. The incident appeared in the Aggie on March 13 in the form of an anonymously written column.

As reported in the Aggie, “I heard shouting outside on the street. I went outside and saw two police cars and a police bicycle; five cops total. A Hispanic male student (whom we shall refer to as ‘C’) was being held in front of the nearest car with two police officers trying to question him. He was not cooperating and was shouting that his rights were being violated. He was demanding to speak to a lawyer, shouting for help.”

The anonymous writer added, “I later found out that he and his companion had been stopped because they were smoking Swisher Sweets, and Officer (Solis Ryan) Terry allegedly smelled marijuana. Though even after a thorough search of both victims and the premises, it was not evident that any was actually found.”

According to Jeffrey Mendelman, who spoke before the Human Relations Commission last night, both students denied smoking marijuana, but “that wasn’t enough for Officer Terry, he got in the students’ faces and his vocal tone became threatening.” When C complained that his rights were being violated, that only got Officer Terry more angry, Mr. Mendelman stated.

“Officer Terry called for backup, then he knocked the possessions out of C’s hand and truck him to the ground. C cried out for help. P tried to videotape it with his phone and Terry knocked the phone out of his hand,” Mr. Mendelman explained.

He explained that when the backup arrived, they parked down the street, resulting in the camera’s failing to capture what happened.

Mr. Mendelman explained at this point C was bloodied, kneed in the back and Tasered. He said he was searched without his consent.

The anonymous writer further described the incident.

“The other officers put C’s companion, an African Muslim student (whom we shall refer to as ‘P’), in the back of the second squad car and came over to help search C. They forced him onto the ground with his hands cuffed behind his back. He was shouting in pain, and they tasered him,” the student writes. “He had five officers on top of him as they tried to remove his backpack, go through his pockets, and take his shoes. When he got up there was blood on the sidewalk from the police beating him to submission. They put him in the squad car, and waited until the fire department and an ambulance arrived.”

“Another passerby saw the incident and asked what was going on. He tried to talk to P but one of the cops said “It’s against the law to talk to prisoners,” and told him to leave. This is a lie and an abuse of police power to intimidate the public,” the student continues. “A medical examination was performed on C. The paramedics gave him a neck brace and put him on a stretcher; they moved him to the ambulance and drove away escorted by the first police car. The paramedics also wiped up the blood from the sidewalk. The second car stayed behind and the officers searched the area.”

Jeffrey Mendelman explained that while in the squad car one officer held C’s hands behind his back while another Officer interrogated him about drug use. He said, “C invoked his right to have a lawyer present” but was told to worry about that later and the police continued to question him.

The student writes, “While P was in the car, I heard the bike cop S. R. Terry make several racial slurs including “He’s shouting jihad” (in reference to P speaking in Arabic). Eventually they let P out of the squad car and had him sign a citation for marijuana possession, even though he had none.”

“Two police officers approached me separately to ask if I had witnessed anything; I refused to speak to them,” the student continues. “The second car and the bike cop left with no sign of the injustice that had been committed except a small drop of blood that the paramedics missed.”

The student concludes, “With the law on their side, it seems like the police are entitled to do whatever they want. I feel powerless, I’m scared, and I don’t feel safe around the people who are supposedly here to protect and serve.”

Jeffrey Mendelman told the HRC he was personally an eyewitness to the second half of the scene and saw four violations of the law by the police: including police failing to cease questioning after dispelling reasonable suspicion that crime was afoot.

In a written complaint, he wrote, “Officer SR Terry cited (the defendant) for violation of this statute without any tangible evidence of marijuana. No marijuana was ever found and (defendant) was protesting his innocence from the first instance. There was no evidence that (defendant) ‘possessed’ any marijuana under the statute. There is no objective reason why Officer SR Terry cited (defendant) for possession of marijuana.”

He also alleges he failed to give a Miranda warning “despite the fact he was in custody and interrogated.”

He writes in his complaint, “Miranda warnings must be given any time an accused is in custodial interrogation. Custody means under arrest or under arrest-like authority. Interrogation means asking questions or making statements that reasonably provoke answers. (Defendant) was at least under arrest type authority because he was placed in a police car with the door shut and hand-cuffed while inside.”

He adds, “Officer SR Terry asked him questions, such as “What is your name?” When (defendant) did not answer adequately, Officer SR Terry shouted, “WHAT IS YOUR NAME?” while just inches from (defendant)’s face. He also asked him “Are you crazy?” (Defendant) was never advised of his Miranda warnings because I asked him such after his release.”

He further complained that an unknown officer continued to interrogate C after he “invoked his 5th amendment right to counsel).”

In his complaint he writes, “When an accused invokes his 5th amendment right to counsel under Miranda, interrogation must cease until counsel is present. The accused must unambiguously invoke his right to counsel. Here, C said “I need to call my lawyer.” At this time, he was surrounded by at least 3 officers and 4 firemen. He was visibly distraught and upset. Instead of ceasing questioning, as John Doe 3 should have done, he said “We’ll figure everything out. We’re just here to make sure everything is okay.”

He continues, “Under the totality of the circumstances, having just been beaten and tasered by the police, having his arms held behind his back while being interrogated and his wounds forcibly cleaned, it is unreasonable for the police, who created the situation in the first place, to simply reply that they were here to ‘make sure everything is okay.’ Officer John Doe 3 violated C’s constitutional rights by continuing questioning after such an unambiguous and clear invocation of his 5th amendment right to counsel.”

He argued the initial stop lacked reasonable suspicion.

He writes, “In order to make a Terry stop [from a case, Terry v. Ohio, regarding a stop or brief detention by police on a reasonable suspicion that the person was involved in criminal activity], a police officer must have reasonable suspicion. Officer SR Terry did not have reasonable suspicion to stop C and P. Officer SR Terry said he ‘smelled marijuana’ to his fellow officers when he was discussing what happened with them. However, there was no evidence to corroborate this.”

He adds, “An arrest must be based on probable cause. At the time of arrest, Officer SR Terry lacked probable cause because the mere suspicion that he ‘smelled marijuana’ had been dispelled. Officer SR Terry was not legally justified in arresting either C or P.”

Mr. Mendelman concludes, “Aside from the many legal violations listed above, I am appalled at the behavior of the UC Davis police, especially Officers SR Terry and John Doe 1. When a biker approached Pablo A. prior to his placement in the police car, John Doe 1 yelled, ‘Stop talking to him! It is against the law to speak to a prisoner.’ Calling someone a ‘prisoner’ before any due process or incarceration is not only factually inaccurate, it is also degrading. “

He added, “I expect UC Davis police to exhibit respect for human dignity despite performing a demanding and tough job.”

Rahim Reed, Associate Executive Vice Chancellor, Office of Campus Community Relations wrote, “The university has received complaints related to this incident. These will be thoroughly and independently investigated by the Office of Compliance and Policy, which is independent from the Police Department.”

He added, “Of necessity, much of this process is confidential, but the named complainants have been informed that their complaints will be investigated and when it is complete, they will be notified of whether or not their complaint was sustained. The independent investigator will prepare a report for the Chief of Police. Under California law, only a Police Chief can determine and impose discipline.”

The Human Relations Commission voted last night to forward the matter to the Davis City Council.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

*full disclosure: Nathan Ellstrand and myself are co-chairs of the Davis Human Relations Commission and have agreed to draft a resolution that will go to council on this matter.

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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38 thoughts on “Details Emerge of Alleged Hate Incident, Police Misconduct in March 6 UC Davis Arrest”

  1. Tia Will

    A question.

    At Citizen’s Academy we were informed of the rights of a police officer to lie to a suspect under certain limited circumstances in order to obtain information that the officer views as necessary to the resolution of a crime by obtaining a confession.

    I am wondering if the police are taught that it is ok to lie under circumstances such as these where obtaining a confession is not under consideration ? Just what is encompassed in the right of the police to lie to suspects and/or the public ?

  2. South of Davis

    David wrote:

    > According to Jeffrey Mendelman who spoke before the Human Relations
    > commission last night, both students denied smoking marijuana

    We all know white people smoke a lot of pot, but for some reason (maybe someone has told them it is still against federal law to smoke it) you don’t see many of them smoking out in public.

    I can’t tell you how many times I have walked by a “person of color” puffing on a blunt (Swisher Sweet with pot inside) out in public.

    1. TrueBlueDevil

      I have had similar experiences. I’ve seen plenty of white folks lite up in private (not my thing), but I’ve seen plenty ‘people of color’ lite up in the park, on the playground, at a festival, etc.

  3. Tia Will

    South of Davis

    “I can’t tell you how many times I have walked by a “person of color” puffing on a blunt (Swisher Sweet with pot inside) out in public.”

    And how many of these times have you alerted the police to the presence of this criminal activity happening right in front of you out in public ?

    1. South of Davis

      Tia wrote:

      > how many of these times have you alerted the police to the presence of
      > this criminal activity happening right in front of you out in public ?

      I have never reported ANY crime to the police (but despite the fact that I think pot should be legal I have politely asked people to stop smoking it around my kids)…

  4. Mr. Toad

    Wild story. Over pot smoking. Those cops need a bong hit to chill out. Perhaps the university needs to revisit its policies about smoking if this is how they will be enforced. If this story is true its simply outrageous.

  5. Tia Will

    Mr. Toad

    Two points with regard to your post.

    First, if the story as reported is correct, there was no evidence to corroborate a suspicious of pot smoking. Meaning that the entire event was not over pot smoking, but rather the suspicion that someone might be pot smoking.

    Second, I completely concur with what I infer to be your point about disproportionality. Even if “C” and “P” had been smoking pot, is this really the response we want from our law enforcement officers ? It would seem that
    confiscation and/ or better yet, “Take it inside guys” might be a more appropriate response.

    1. South of Davis

      Tia wrote:

      > First, if the story as reported is correct, there was no evidence
      > to corroborate a suspicious of pot smoking.

      The story says:

      > (The Police) “had him sign a citation for marijuana possession”

      So it looks like a “cop said he had pot he said he didn’t” situation…

      I don’t smoke pot or cigarettes (or have many fires at home), but I don’t have any problem with people smoking pot or cigarettes on campus (or having a fire at home).

      The more restrictions we put on people in pursuit of Nirvana the more we are going to have pissed of people running in to pissed off cops.

      > “Take it inside guys” might be a more appropriate response.

      Sadly the cops are not allowed to let anyone “take it inside” since it is now banned ANYWHERE on campus

          1. Barack Palin

            Relax D.P, it was a joke. With how smoking pot is now deemed more and more acceptable in society while smoking a cigarette is demonized.

  6. Barack Palin

    Also, since the story is highly dependant on an anonymous letter, we have no way of really knowing if the police actions happened as reported. So let’s not jump to conclusions.

    1. David Greenwald Post author

      We had a room full of ten people including an eyewitness last night (small room). I only used the anonymous letter because it was easily accessible.

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            That’s the problem with these cases, the campus police are precluded by law from commenting. So unless this goes to court, we won’t get their side of the story. The push here is for an investigation.

  7. Mr. Toad

    Yes but the university has this no smoking anywhere on campus policy now. Dumb policy begets dumber enforcement. I’m surprised they didn’t pepper spray them. Its standard operating procedure. Perhaps our local elected officials are correct about UCD’s ability to provide public safety services to students. I want to support the cops but this story, even taking into account that the person was likely offended and refused to be searched, is beyond dumb. Remember pot smoking is an infraction. This is like beating someone up over jaywalking. There ought to be a smoke in protest at Mrak with 215’s smoking pot and others smoking tobacco. The whole retro no smoking on campus thing has obviously gone too far.

  8. Mr. Toad

    As an aside, why is something that happened on campus the purview of the City of Davis Human Relations Commission. Since the University is not part of the City is it commission business. Of course if UCD was annexed into the City the wouldn’t be any question about jurisdiction.

    1. David Greenwald Post author

      A number of reasons. First, the campus has created a body made up of city and uc representatives to deal with these kinds of incidents. Second, the HRC is an advisory body and does not have any formal power other than to foster community conversation. Third, happened to at least one resident of the city.

  9. D.D.

    re: Miranda rights and other citizens’ rights:
    At 6:55 a.m., many years ago, my family suffered a law enforcement home invasion described by media as a probation sweep. I tried to calmly explain to the officers what my lawyer had explained to me re: where they were legally allowed to search in my home in Davis. One officer replied: “I don’t care what your lawyer said. Get out of my way, or I’ll kick the door to your bedroom in.” I was standing on my staircase, trying to block his way. I was trying to calmy expain to him what I was advised. I was wearing a sheer cotton night shirt. He then handcuffed me.
    Sometimes the cops do not listen to you, and they do not really care about your rights.
    Sometimes cops are good, calm professionals. It is the luck of the draw who you’ll encounter.

    1. D.D.

      I still believe in building community relationships with cops. And talking to cops. If we knew the cop by his/her first name and saw that cop as our neighbor, our kid’s softball coach, our kid’s teacher’s husband, etc., we would talk to them. Another instance, years ago, I made the mistake of talking to a mean cop in Dixon who verbally bullied me. Extreme psychological bullying (threatened to send CPS to my home to bother my teenagers). Yet I still want a community where we see cops as our neighbors, our protectors, our friends. It’s not too much to ask. It can be done.

  10. TrueBlueDevil

    The hospital report, if there is one, will tell if there were any serious injuries. A small cut or nose bleed can bleed a lot. If true sounds like an over reaction.

  11. DavisBurns

    The hospital report, if there is one, will tell if there were any serious injuries. A small cut or nose bleed can bleed a lot. If true sounds like an over reaction.

    I highly doubt ANYONE who got thrown to the ground, tasseled and handcuffed would think the injuries weren’t serious. A citizen has the right to expect an interaction with the police without propable cause would result in NO injuries. I hear about people being tassed and shutter to think what it would do to my daughter and others like her with implanted defibrillators.

  12. Tia Will

    DavisBurns

    “I hear about people being tassed and shutter to think what it would do to my daughter and others like her with implanted defibrillators.”

    I think the potential may be right up there with the effects of pepper spray on someone with severe asthma.

      1. Tia Will

        “Beats getting shot”

        Not if you end up dead anyway. We have had deaths secondary to both taser and pepper spraying occur within our prison system. I believe the same could occur within the general public if the police were unlucky enough to target a susceptible individual.

        I am assuming that they do not do complete medical histories before the spray or taser.

        1. Barack Palin

          I don’t claim to be an expert and not being a doctor, but I think it’s safe to say that overall people have a much better chance of surviving a laser gun charge than being shot. Are you really going to argue that?

      2. D.D.

        “Beats geting shot.” Really?
        It’s hard to explain to a reader who has never been man-handled by an overly aggressive cop how that makes you feel. You may want to read the previous link I posted from the very thin, short, college student who was body slammed into a bench by a frightened cop. She explains my feeling rather well. I believe the large size of the crowd (that surrounded that young woman) was causing fear in that cop. I believe in my instance, the cop was afraid there might be something in one of my bedrooms, even though the bedroom in question was legally off limits to that cop. It is very, very difficult to explain the range of emotions one feels when they are physically violated by a huge, heavily armed man, when in my case, all I was wearing was a long, sheer cotton tee shirt.

  13. Chase Tinsley

    If more details do emerge, and further inquiry is sought, you can be fairly certain that the DAs office will do nothing about the possible criminal actions of the officers in question. I probably have an un or semi-conscious bias given what happened to me (and its sad that part of me felt relief that I was only slammed into an enclosure by a 6’2 275 pound monster, and not tased or tortured.), but I believe the incident took place and probably just as described. The issue is bad everywhere, but we may see some change next door with Jan Scully’s gift to Sacramento County by retiring. It’s too bad nobody feels they have the clout to run against Resig, and furthermore its sad that most people don’t see a reason why anyone should run against him. I hope “C” and “P” are doing well and can get past all of this. It’s not easy and it certainly makes you lose most, if not all, faith in the people meant to protect us.

  14. Tia Will

    D.D.

    “I still believe in building community relationships with cops”

    I agree. And I believe that this must happen prior to being willing to talk with the police.

    Our system, as it is at the present time, is thoroughly adversarial . I did not make this up. This is as presented to us at a recent Citizens Academy, which is a series of classes designed to educate ordinary citizens regarding the roles of various members of the police and judicial system taught by police, sheriffs, and lawyers. The phrase the “good guys vs the bad guys” was used repeatedly. There was minimal mention of any form of collaboration between the police and the community. I was astounded by the paternalistic tone and assumption that the police were always acting in the best interest of the community. The presenters truly believed that they were entitled to
    lie, to detain on minmal pretext, to use force as they saw fit in the interests of “order”.

    In order to get to the point where I, a law abiding woman in her 60’s, hardly anyone’s idea of a sketchy character, would be willing to “talk to the police” at any venue other than Farmer’s Market, and then only if I had approached them, would take a total revision of our current culture of policing. Only a complete change to a community police model where the police would say,”Hi, how’s it going today Tia? ” would I even consider a conversation with a member of the police. The way we are currently structured, in the words of the police themselves, any attempt to collaborate, is essentially to place one self in a vulnerable position.

    Following this series of presentations, I came away further discouraged about our ability as citizens to build community relations with the police. I do believe however that the police themselves could initiate such a change.
    Doing so however, would entail those with the least aggressive and most collaborative mind sets would have to be in positions of influence. It would require a complete turn around from the present “good guy vs bad guy” mind set to one of protection and service. When this occurs, I will be more than happy to “talk with the police”.
    Until then, I will be happy to talk with them…..in the presence of my lawyer.

  15. D.D.

    As you know, I no longer live in Davis. In my new town, the police just did “coffee with a cop” at a local coffee shop. They advertised it as “No agenda’s, no lectures. We just want to meet the community.”
    It was an extremely relaxed, easy going morning. At least half of the police force in my town sat around that coffee shop for two hours. I approached them, and we had a very nice chat. They acted like nice, calm humans. It helped my own personal issues immensely.

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