by William Kelly
As Alexander Craver, Antwoine Perry, Iszir Price, Angelica Reyes, and Elijah Williams prepare to defend themselves in court, our city government has a moral and legal obligation not to infringe on their right to a fair trial.
That’s why the city of Davis must immediately retract the official statement issued by the police department on April 24th.
The statement, entitled “Two Davis Police Officers Assaulted by Picnic Day Crowd,” contains several false and misleading claims that have a direct bearing on the ongoing trial. The statement fails to provide any evidence or sources and since its release it has been directly contradicted by publicly available video evidence and multiple witness statements, including at least one witness who has not been charged with a crime and has no relationship to the defendants.
Many of the false claims in the police’s statement have direct bearing on the trial. For example, according to the statement “Before the officers could act” their vehicle was “surrounded by a large hostile group.” Video evidence clearly shows that the officers drove their vehicle into a crowd of people and the officers could have safely exited from the driver side, which was completely clear, and identified themselves to the group. Additionally, several members of this allegedly hostile group appear to have been dancing just seconds before the fighting broke out.
The statement also claims that the police officers had “clearly displayed badges on their chests and visible police weapons” and that they “began to identify themselves” as they excited the vehicle, however witnesses claim that the officers did not identify themselves until much later and neither guns nor badges are visible in the publicly available video evidence
These facts will be of fundamental importance to the court as it determines whether the defendants started attacking three police officers for unknown reasons before the officers had a chance to identify themselves, or whether they were simply defending themselves and each other from violent strangers who they had no way of knowing were actually undercover cops.
As a community we ought to demand that our law enforcement officers accurately report facts, even when it doesn’t serve their immediate interest. It’s impossible to know exactly what impact the police department’s statement had on public opinion or will have on the trial, but it speaks volumes that this is our city’s only official statement on the circumstances leading to the picnic day fight.
The truth takes time, they tell us. But while we wait there’s no reason to let these lies stand.
William Kelly is a Davis resident and local activist