The Vanguard has received a video of the altercation between plain-clothed police officers and three young men last Saturday at College Park and Russell during Picnic Day. While the video is only nine seconds in length, when slowed down and viewed frame by frame, the view appears to contradict key portions of the police account.
The Vanguard does not have permission to show the video, but did get authorization to show some key still photos.
We are going to go line by line of the police press release from Monday, April 24, to analyze what happened.
Police Press Release: “On April 22, 2017, at approximately 3:30 P.M., three Davis Police Officers working on Picnic Day were traveling on Russell Blvd in an unmarked police vehicle when the officers encountered a large group of people in the roadway who were blocking traffic.”
While we do not see the lead up, the video itself shows a fairly open roadway at College Park, and where there are clearly a number of people, there are never more than 10 to 15 people visible in the video.
“One officer was wearing police attire with visible badge and the other two were wearing plainclothes, although they had clearly displayed badges on their chests and visible police weapons.”
The video appears to contradict this – there are no visible badges, all three of the officers in the video are wearing plainclothes, and there is no sign of any weapons whatsoever.
“At the time, Russell Blvd was nearly gridlocked due to Picnic Day related traffic and many large parties occurring in the area. Due to the obvious safety hazards the group presented, the officers pulled near the group to take action.”
It is important to understand that we cannot on this video see the drive up of the police vehicle, where Attorney Mark Reichel described in detail that the unmarked van pulled up on the wrong side, the occupants scream profanities to get out of the way, and the police are jamming on the horn “in a harassing way.”
“Before the officers 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 he was 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.”
This is NOT what we see on the video. The video starts with a woman screaming, “Oh my god Angelica, what the f-, get the f- off of her.”
We do not see what precipitated it, but from Mark Reichel’s account, at the point at which the officers exited the vehicle, they had not identified themselves, “Angelica” confronted them with profanities and flipped them off.
At this point, Mr. Reichel explained, the cop puts her in a headlock and “starts punching her.” He said, “That’s the first thing that happens.”
As far as we can tell this is the start of the physical confrontation. You can see in the photo above the officer in a gray shirt and shorts has Angelica in a headlock and has either punched or is about to punch her. In the red shirt and gray shorts is Alexander Craver. To the right is another plainclothes officer in a blue shirt and a hat who is about to square off with Elijah Williams. On the left, you see an officer in jeans about to take on Antwoine Perry.
The key thing is, Mr. Craver sees Angelica, a woman he does not know, in a headlock and is unaware that this is an officer doing this to her. He rushes to intervene.
We can see Mr. Williams standing and watching when, as his attorney describes, he gets “jaw-dropped” by a punch to the jaw, and ends up fighting it out with a man who turns out to be an officer.
Elijah Williams was clearly WATCHING Angelica when he got blindsided on his right. Video shows him STANDING THERE doing nothing and then a plainclothes has started to rip his shirt off of him and attempts to take him down
He was legally standing and watching when he was attacked.
Here you can see Mr. Craver has interceded by putting the man who turned out to be the officer into a headlock. Angelica is on the ground to the left and there is no visible badge on the officer. You can also see that there is not a huge crowd surrounding these men.
Here you can clearly see that the struggle is not as described. The officers are not immediately attacked by multiple suspects and beaten on the ground. Rather, there are three clearly defined one-on-one skirmishes.
Elijah Williams and the officer wearing a blue shirt and a hat are seen to the left. Mr. Craver has taken the officer who had Angelica in a headlock to the ground in the middle. And you see Mr. Perry and the officer in the basketball vest near the far end of the street.
You never see a large or hostile crowd. Instead you see bystanders not far away causally on their phones or some videoing the incident.
Two of these men, Mr. Craver and Mr. Williams, are charged with assault with a deadly weapon, but there is no sign of any sort of weapon in the video. Instead, it appears to be a hand to hand fight.
“While on the ground, the officers were kicked, punched in the head, and one officer was struck with a bottle on the side of his head.”
We do not on the video see any evidence of a bottle on the side of the head. All we see are one-on-one battles between the men and the officers. There does appear to be a fourth individual who comes into the skirmish with Mr. Craver – he attempts to kick the officer, misses, and a female pulls him out of there right as the video ends.
“The surrounding crowd was hostile and presented a serious threat to the officers, who were easily identifiable by their displayed badges and attire.”
From what we can see in the video, there is no evidence that the surrounding crowd was hostile – baffled by what was happening, yes, but we could see people standing around watching, with one woman actually, as mentioned, interceding to pull the guy out who tried to kick the officer.
What we do not see on the nine seconds of video is how the incident began – how the officers approached the scene, whether they identified themselves as police officers – but in the video and in the stills there is no sign of visible badges or anything to indicate that these are officers.
Mark Reichel told the Vanguard yesterday that he has talked to about six witnesses so far and they all have given similar accounts – that includes Isabel Lynch, who has already spoken to the media.
He said many of them have spoken to the police and he said, when they give the account that he has given to the Vanguard, “they don’t take any more notes and they end the interview.”
In our view, the police account is inconsistent with what we see on the video and, while we do not get all of the pieces to the puzzle, the narrative given by the defendants seems more consistent with what occurs on the video.
—David M. Greenwald reporting