Picnic Day Incident: Attorney Describes a Race-Based Attack by Men Who Turned Out to Be Police

Davis Police Car

“This is crazy,” Mr. Reichel explains. “They think it’s white men attacking black men.  That’s what they assume.”

More accounts are emerging as to what transpired at College Park and Russell last Saturday on Picnic Day.  Attorney Mark Reichel told the Vanguard that the account he has received from six witnesses, backed by video, paints a very different picture from the one that official police accounts have portrayed.

Mr. Reichel, a longtime Sacramento criminal defense attorney, explained that an unmarked van “pulls up literally on the wrong side of the road, aims at them, screeches as it stops just in front of them.

“People that don’t know each other have the same story,” he said.  “They all say I thought it was one of those crazy stories where someone in a van runs into a crowd on purpose – they all said the same thing and it stops just in front of them, the nose of the van is almost on the sidewalk.”

The officers in the van, who have not identified themselves, “open the windows and scream, get the f- out of the way.  Get the f- out of the way.

“I swear this is a case of some cops who literally want to beat down people,” he said.  Apparently the targets were several African Americans in the area.

He said, at this point, “the people have no idea who these people (in the van) are.”  Mr. Reichel said, “They screamed back, f- you. F- you and they’re flipping them off.”

He described that the police inside the van, by this point, are jamming on the horn “in a harassing way.”  The police then jump out of the van “and the first person they touch is a woman who is being held back by another woman saying ‘Angelica don’t do this’ and she’s going who are you to f-ing flip us off.”

The cop puts her in a headlock at this point, Mark Reichel explained.  “And starts punching her,” he said.  “That’s the first thing that happens.”

“They absolutely never say the word police,” he said.  “Never say the word police!”

Mr. Reichel said you can freeze frame the cell phone videos that he has, “all three of them – there is nothing.”  They are wearing a T-shirt, jeans or shorts, “nothing, nothing at all that says cop.  No guns shown at all.

“Their badges, conspicuously on a chain underneath their shirts,” Mr. Reichel said, explaining there was no way for anyone at this point to know that these were police officers.

At this point, “one cop has got the girl in a headlock and is pounding on her, before anything happens, the second guy literally gets attacked by another white guy.  So they start swinging – mutual combat swinging.

“My client (Elijah Williams) is jaw-dropped, looking, and from his right-hand side, bang, white guy comes up, assaults him,” he said.  “So they turn and they square off and they get into it and they get on the ground.

“The cop who is choking the girl, he gets choked now by who I call the hero,” he said.  This is Alexander Craver, 22, from West Sacramento.  “Craver jumps on the cop, who is chocking the girl.”  Mr. Craver does not know the girl.

“This is crazy,” Mr. Reichel explains.  “They think it’s white men attacking black men.  That’s what they assume.”  He said they thought this was a racially motivated attack potentially by KKK people, Mr. Reichel explained.

“(Craver) is choking this cop out, who lets go of the girl and then the uniform cops come running up and that’s when they all give up and lie down,” he said.  He explained that the kids had their faces “pushed down into the…  gravel for a while.”

Mr. Williams was taken to jail, where he was called a “faggot” by the officers.

Mr. Reichel says of Mr. Williams, whom he has known through his son, “he’s a sweet kid.  He’s never been in trouble in his life.”

According to Mr. Williams, through his attorney, “I just assumed it was what you see on TV all the time, about these neo-Nazis that attack people.”

Mark Reichel said if you look at the video, “you don’t see any badges until later when they had them down, they pull out their badges.”

This account heavily contradicts the scene described by Davis Police where police officers, driving an unmarked police vehicle near College Park and Russell, encountered a large group of people in the roadway and blocking traffic.

In the police account, the police pulled near a group to take action but, before they could act, the unmarked police vehicle was surrounded by a large hostile group and several subjects began to yell threats at the police officers in the car. One subject quickly moved to simulate pulling a gun on the officers. As the officers exited the car and began to identify themselves as the police, two officers were immediately physically attacked by multiple suspects and beaten on the ground.

However, there was another version of the incident at the same time the police version came out.  Isabel Lynch, a Sacramento resident and student at Sierra College in Rocklin, said she did not know the people involved but had met them that day.

She said she was waiting to cross the street with other people on the edge of a sidewalk when she said a van came and nearly hit them.  At this point a passenger in the van opened the door and began waving at the crowd.

The people were still unaware that the people in the van were police officers, and she explained that the driver of the van “laid on the horn and was yelling out the window, ‘Get the f— off the street.’”

At this point, people in the crowd and officers yelled obscenities, and fighting broke out.

“I did see one of the officers on the ground, and I saw one girl kicking one of the officers,” she said.

“A lot of it didn’t make sense,” she said. “I think they (police) were just reacting, and they reacted poorly.”

She estimated ten people were involved in fighting with the officers, but so far only three have been arrested – although police believe there will be additional arrests.

According to the police, the three arrested were from out of the area and are not UC Davis students.

Alexander Reide Craver, 22, and Elijah James Williams, 19, both of West Sacramento, as well as Antwoine Rashadek Perry, 21, of Elk Grove, were arrested on Saturday.

In a later statement from Police Chief Pytel, the Vanguard was told that they have “received video now which shows what happened from the beginning and corroborates the officers statements, including that one of the arrestees lifted up his shirt like he was going to pull a gun. As this was happening the officer got out of his car and went to grab him and was immediately hit in the back of the head and then hit several times, taken to the ground and kicked several times in the head.”

He explained, “The officer did fight back. The other two officers got out of the car and were almost immediately in the scuffle trying to keep the one officer from being attacked.”

The police have not responded to a Vanguard request to view the video.  But again, based on the video, the police believe their version of events to be corroborated and that the attack on their officers, who have not been publicly named as of yet, was unwarranted and illegal.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

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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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    1. David Greenwald

      I have now seen some videos, I’m not allowed to show them but I am allowed to mention that I have seen them and they give some confirmation to the account given in this article.

      1. David Greenwald

        Probably important to explain – there are legal considerations why the police would not release the video.

        The other side may release it – I just don’t have permission to do so.  I will also caution one of them is nine seconds, shot from a phone, I have literally spent a few hours breaking it down frame by frame to see what is happening.  Again, I think it basically confirms or at least is consistent with the story I was told by Mark Reichel.

  1. Liz Miller

    Well, nobody ever said cops are smart.  Who grows up wanting to drive around in car all day and give people tickets, or worse.   But the pay and benefits are very good if you have no other skills.

    1. Tia Will


      I really disagree with your comment. I have lived long enough to know a number of police officers. Just like with any other group of people, I believe that there is a bell shaped distribution of intelligence, empathy, flexibility and desire to help vs desire to control. I really do not think that police more than any other group should be painted with a broad brush.

      1. John Hobbs

        Belief is the foundation of ignorance. That is a very attenuated bell curve.


        As I have posted before, cops are hired for their unimaginative and unsympathetic natures.

        Here are a few questions from a 31 queation sample exam c/o tests.com:

        Officer Smith often works as a drug-use prevention officer in the local public schools. He visits three schools a week, 40 weeks out of the year. How many schools does he visit in a year?
        a. 100
        b. 110
        c. 120
        d. 13

        Identify the misspelled word in the following sentence: The surprising news anemated the conversation amongst the group.
        a. surprising
        b. anemated
        c. conversation
        d. amongst

        The witness said that ______ staying at a local motel.
        a. their
        b. they’re
        c. there
        d. None of the above.

        There were five ____________ to the crime.
        a. witness’s
        b. witness’
        c. witnesses
        d. witness

        What term is the same in meaning as the word underlined in the following sentence?
        The victims arm was lacerated in the accident.
        a. cut
        b. broken
        c. pulverized
        d. folded

        I trust you won’t need the answer sheet.

        1. Tia Will

          Belief is the foundation of ignorance”

          As I have posted before, cops are hired for their unimaginative and unsympathetic natures.”

          OK, let’s look a little closer at what you said. You found one article in which IQ was used as a criteria and then seem to be extrapolating that in two ways. First you are generalizing it to other police departments which may or may not use the same criteria. Secondly, you have then asserted on no further evidence that they use criteria of lack of imagination and are lack of sympathy without offering substantiation. Do you have more evidence, or is that it ?


  2. David Greenwald

    New comment from Mark Reichel: The police have interviewed some of the same people that he has.  He said when they give the account that he has “they don’t take any more notes and they end the interview.”

  3. PhilColeman

    There is a longstanding legal sentiment and precedent that if something occurs “in a public place,” by virtue of it being public the person(s) revealed can claim no legal right to privacy. Yet, as is most everything in law, there are ever increasing exceptions to this broad-brush comment.

    A Joseph Nobody can (and doubtless, will) post his phone video somewhere on the Internet on this particular incident. Since Joe’s total net assets may be in the 4-figure range, he’s invulnerable to lawsuits charging violation of privacy. But public pressure is brought to bear for everybody else with video to also show-and-tell. “What are you trying to hide?”

    A government entity is an entirely different matter as far as potential for tort liability. The “deep pockets” apply here. There are numerous instances where a government entity has a “story to tell,” that is redeeming, but can’t. Two reasons.

    When ongoing criminal investigations are involved, as is the case here, extreme caution is exercised in premature release of “evidence.” A reviewing DA may say, “Not now,” for prosecution advantage later. In addition, the immediate visual identity of bystanders may include persons who are prime suspects later, and have meantime fled. Similarly, if there is potential for civil litigation (an almost always circumstance), government counsel will urge, “Don’t release anything.”

    Then there is the “innocent bystander,” who is given full publicity and exposure by virtue of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. This exposure, given without permission and caused by that deep pocket government entity, can translate to a lawsuit alleging public humiliation, embarrassment, emotional trauma, tooth decay, and so on.

    So this is why everybody in this story supposedly “in the know” give judgment post-haste but give no companion evidence to support it. Here we have legions of experts and companion analyses, from persons who were never there, from persons who have obvious bias one way or another, and who purport to have access to all sorts of condemning video accounts. Naturally, the same video-recorded render polar-opposite conclusions. For the rest of us reading this soap opera, we remain confused–indefinitely.





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