Police Name Investigator, Post Video on Picnic Day Incident

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One of the arresting officers has his badge out when he has the suspect on the ground, but that badge was not visible on the video – it was tucked under his shirt

Two and a half weeks after the April 22, 2017, incident, the police have named retired Sacramento County Sheriff John McGinness to conduct the Internal Affairs Investigation.  He will look into whether the involved officers committed any misconduct and look into whether changes to departmental policy and/or training are warranted.

According to the release, Mr. McGinness began his investigation last week. “He will have access to all evidence relating to this incident, along with full access to any members of the Davis Police Department that are needed to conduct the internal investigation. When the investigation has been completed, the Department will take appropriate action consistent with findings and recommendations resulting from the independent review.”

In addition the city has now released a dash cam video from a vehicle that was driving westbound on Russell Blvd. as the police drove up.  One video is at normal speed: https://vimeo.com/216873077 and the other is in slow motion: https://vimeo.com/216874005

On Tuesday, April 25, 2017, according to the release, “a Davis resident turned over “dash cam” video that captured a broad visual field and depicted important details of the incident. Importantly, the “dash cam” video shows that other witnesses were present and there is likely other video evidence available that has not yet been provided to the Davis Police Department.

“Additional video evidence may be helpful, in conjunction with all other available evidence being gathered (e.g. witness statements, officer interviews, forensic analyses, and documentary evidence), to inform appropriate conclusions regarding the pending investigations,” the police report.

According to the press release “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. The officers stopped, an altercation ensued and three involved suspects were arrested, booked at the Yolo County Jail and released after posting bail.”

There is an ongoing criminal investigation into the three individuals, and the DA’s office “will review all pertinent reports and evidence and make an independent criminal filing decision.”

The release notes, “As with any use of force, and pursuant to the Department’s existing protocol, an internal review was immediately initiated to evaluate the situation and determine whether there was compliance with the law and departmental policies and procedures. Additionally, summary incident information was released to the public along with the request for anyone who had video of the incident to contact the Davis Police Department.”

They add, “Following the release of information by the Davis Police Department, the media was contacted by involved parties/witnesses who reported new and differing accounts of the incident. The media reported general claims were that the police instigated the incident, that there was racial bias and that the force used in the arrests was excessive.”

The video that the police have released shows the start of the incident which we had not previously seen.  Here we see a large group of people gathered on the corner of College Park and Russell and they do extend into the street.

An unmarked vehicle pulls up and, in slow motion, it appears to come very close to people who have gathered in the street.  Unlike attorney Mark Reichel’s account which was based on eyewitness accounts, it is clear that the vehicle is not pulling up on the wrong side of the street, but rather attempting to make a u-turn.

The scene appears crowded but calm until the officers arrived.  According to Mark Reichel, they arrived blaring the horn and shouting profanity.  This video does not capture sound, so we have no way of knowing what was said between the police and those involved.

There is no clear video, at least in this one, showing Antoine Perry lifting up his shirt to show a gun.

There are still questions as to whether the police displayed their badges and whether the civilians knew that those guys who jumped out of the van were in fact police officers.

Meanwhile, instead of the impartial police auditor conducting the investigation, Sheriff McGinness hosts a talk radio show on KFBK Radio, a Sacramento conservative radio station.

The Vanguard will have more commentary and analysis in the morning.

—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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34 thoughts on “Police Name Investigator, Post Video on Picnic Day Incident”

  1. Roberta Millstein

    Here is what my eyes see in that video.  There is a crowd of people standing peacefully on the corner, spilling out into the adjacent lane.  This clearly blocked traffic to some extent for people travelling west on Russell.  They appear to be partying; several people are dancing just prior to the police coming.  The police van makes a u-turn and pulls very close to the crowd; some pull others away so that they are not hit.  A few members of the crowd appear interested in the van; they lean toward it.  Then it looks to me like someone comes out the van swinging and a fight ensues, with the person pulling something out of his shirt after the scuffle has begun.  Two other people coming out of the van and start fighting as well.

  2. Keith O

    Meanwhile, instead of the impartial police auditor conducting the investigation, Sheriff McGinness hosts a talk radio show on KFBK Radio, a Sacramento conservative radio station.

    So what’s an impartial investigator.  Someone who has no political affiliations?  Good luck finding that.  Would you be okay if it was a liberal talk show host?

    1. Tia Will

      Personally, I don’t think that a liberal talk show host would be appropriate either. But just the fact that you chose to use that particular challenge demonstrates your bias. I think it is possible to find individuals who will evaluate based on the facts and not on their political preference. Here, it does not seem that the effort to find such an individual was made.

      1. Keith O

        But just the fact that you chose to use that particular challenge demonstrates your bias.

        Not at all, I was just throwing back at David the fact that he mentioned McGuiness’ political affiliation as to why he couldn’t be impartial.  Does David also think a liberal talk show couldn’t be impartial?  So Tia Will, that didn’t demonstrate any bias on my part, quit your projecting, something that you hate when others do it to you.

        1. David Greenwald Post author

          I would argue that while I could probably do an impartial investigation, I would probably not be acceptable to the police and for understandable reasons. The former sheriff at this point is probably the flip-side of me.

        2. Tia Will

          You have this partially right. I was not projecting. However, I was making an assumption that was based on your previous writings instead of strictly adhering to the content of this post. What I should have stated is, my assessment, based on the my recollection of the entirety of your posts is that you are demonstrating bias. I should not make assumptions of assessments without clearly labelling them as such.

  3. Sharla C.

    I think the department should have a policy that officers wear their uniforms for any secondary employments and don’t drive their own cars. They just look too much like everyone else.  I showed the video, explaining that this was the video of the Picnic Day fight, to a family member who is a police sergeant in a major city and he initially thought the officers were in the car with the dash cam and didn’t understand why they just drove on by the fight.  He didn’t know which people were officers until I pointed them out.  He said that his department wouldn’t be able to get assault on a police officer under these conditions – that officers just saying that they were the police and even having a badge on their belts were not enough.  Having officers out of uniform when being asked to deal with large crowds puts them at risk.

  4. Roberta Millstein

    I can’t help but think that things would have gone very differently in an alternative universe, one where:

    The police car that was heading east on Russell was a marked car.  The police used a megaphone and told people to get back onto the sidewalk.  The police car made a left turn onto College Park (not a u-turn) and parked the car.  The police calmly got out of their vehicle and further instructed any stragglers to get back onto the sidewalk.

    We need a calm and authoritative demeanor from police.  The crowd was not acting violently, and there was no need to escalate.  My two cents.  If someone has an alternative vision for how things should have gone, I’d like to hear it.  At a minimum I hope this event causes the Davis police to rethink its policies, assuming that policy was followed here.

    1. Tia Will

      Roberta,

      I have, not an alternative universe, but an alternate scenario that I think might have unfolded significantly differently. Let’s suppose that instead of this group of kids, you, Lois Wolk, Mariko Yamada, Eileen Samitz and I, each of us with our ten best friends were milling around on this corner waiting to cross and got a little carried away and blocked part of one lane. I highly suspect that the police would have pulled up beside us and politely asked us to clear the intersection for our own safety. I could be wrong. But I suspect that this may be an example of disparate treatment based on the demographic, and I am speaking of age and gender, not race.

      1. Ron

        Tia:  The video does not show the group “waiting to cross”.  They were staying put, blocking a lane.

        I seriously doubt that any of those you mentioned above would be engaging in a physical confrontation (within a few seconds), nor would I expect that any of you would subsequently be found carrying ammunition (assuming that you believe the reports regarding that).

        However, I do hope that the response is reviewed with a goal of de-escalation in the future.

        1. Roberta Millstein

          Ron, if what some of the witnesses say is true, and if someone came out of an unmarked van cursing at me and physically threatening me, would I fight back?  Yes, absolutely I would.  My being a middle-aged woman does not change that.  But right, I carry neither guns nor ammunition, and do not own either.

          I would not say that “de-escalation” was needed.  Rather, the situation should not have been escalated in the first place.  All that was there in the beginning were some people partying and partially blocking a traffic lane.  It was not violent.

        2. Howard P

          You are correct, Ron… they blocked a lane… not partially blocked it, they blocked it… whether that was their intent, or just the consequence of their actions remains to be seen, and we may never know their “intent”.

          You are also correct that there has been no facts that have come to light that indicate they were waiting to cross the street… they were just congregating in the traffic lane and sidewalk… there was at least one “ped cycle” shown in the videos that indicate they could have crossed, if that indeed was their intent.

          As to the other points, it is unclear from the videos…

        3. Ron

          Roberta:

          The speed at which the violence occurred (and level of detail in the video) makes it difficult for me to determine “who threw the first punch”, nor can I make a sound judgement regarding the subsequent violence involving several individuals.  But, I suspect that it all could have been avoided, and started going beyond mere self-defense at some point.

          If it wasn’t police officers in the vehicle (but just some frustrated motorists), would you conclude that the subsequent violence was all justified?

        4. Roberta Millstein

          Ron, if you go back to my post above, where I suggest that if there had been a marked police vehicle that parked across College Park, with police officers walking slowly toward the group in uniform, my claim is that this whole confrontation could most likely have been avoided.

          It looks to me like the police start the violence, but the video isn’t fully clear (more angles, closer would help) and, of course, sound.  But again, it didn’t have to be the way it did at all.

          If a frustrated motorist started attacking me?  Again, yes, I fight back.  Sorry, no, I don’t just stand there and let people hit me.  Do you?

        5. Ron

          Roberta:  “If a frustrated motorist started attacking me?  Again, yes, I fight back.  Sorry, no, I don’t just stand there and let people hit me.  Do you?”

          So, if one assumes that the police weren’t properly identified:

          I can’t tell who started hitting who.  But (if I’m thinking clearly), I also try to avoid engaging frustrated motorists.  (Normally, physical violence doesn’t happen unless one also starts arguing, gesturing or threatening.)  It’s a dangerous world out there, when it comes to road rage.  (And, “who is right” normally doesn’t matter, in the end.)

          Probably would have been better to get out of the street, and avoid confrontation (even if it was a regular motorist).

        6. Roberta Millstein

          I’ll never forget a scene I saw once in Mpls.  Car A stopped short.  Car B rear-ended Car A.  The occupant of Car A got out of his car and proceeded toward Car B very menacingly.  I was Car C, and perhaps I shouldn’t admit this, but I drove around both of them and got the hell out of there (this was before cell phones).  I don’t think it went well for Car B or its occupant.  There’s a lot of crazy out there.  I hope the occupant of Car B defended himself.

          My point is that physical violence can be unprovoked, or that what people take as “provocation” that justifies violence can be very slim indeed (standing in the street, looking at someone the wrong way).

        7. Ron

          Roberta:

          Yeah, a collision is probably one of the most dangerous times, when people are already emotional.

          But, my point remains – if one doesn’t argue, gesture, or threaten, the likelihood of ensuring violence is usually greatly reduced.  This is something I’ve realized more and more, as I’ve gotten older.

          Perhaps a reason that Buddhist monks don’t get into fistfights very often?

        8. Roberta Millstein

          “if one doesn’t argue, gesture, or threaten, the likelihood of ensuring violence is usually greatly reduced”

          Not based on statistics I’ve seen.  And you haven’t shown me anything to convince me otherwise, other than your bare assertion, which very much comes off as blaming the victim.  As we are just in “yes it is” “no it isn’t” mode, which is pointless, I’m going to cease discussing this with you.

        9. Ron

          Roberta:  “And you haven’t shown me anything to convince me otherwise, other than your bare assertion, which very much comes off as blaming the victim.”

          What an odd thing to say.

          If someone is looking for a reason to fight, do you advise arguing, gesturing, and threatening that person as a response?

          I’m not referring to a situation in which someone has already made up their mind to physically attack another. (However, that’s usually going to happen instantaneously, without waiting for a response from the intended victim.)

      2. Roberta Millstein

        Tia, My eyes see what Ron sees – this was not a group that was waiting to cross, but rather a group that was too large to fit on the corner and so was spilling into the roadway somewhat.  (The reason I think that is that the car with the dashcam shows that only about three cars made it through the light before they were able to be the front car, suggesting that the people were standing there partially blocking the lane for some time).  But that’s not an important issue to me.  It was Picnic Day.  People were partying.  If the worst thing that happens is that some people were hanging out in the street and needed to be told to move, we’d be lucky.  That’s all part of the day, as far as I am concerned and not anything to fuss over.  As I think I saw you comment elsewhere, and you and I seem to agree on this, the problem was with the way that the police dealt with them.  So that gets to your question: if it were you, me, Lois, Mariko, and Eileen, plus some other middle aged women friends partially in the street?  Yeah, I doubt the police would have acted that way.  Whether it’s just age and gender, or whether race played a factor as well, I can’t say.  I can’t see the race of the people in the crowd well enough (looks like a mix, maybe?), so I won’t opine on that either way. But I think we are basically in agreement.

  5. Liz Miller

    Because a retired law enforcement officer has been selected to do the investigation, we know right away that the city police did the wrong thing and are hoping to avoid liability.

    Cops don’t find fault with each other, no matter what.

    It’s been reported that the city attorney approved payment to McGinness without approval from the City Council, per the city manager’s office.

    Let’s hope the City Council steps in, though with monetary damages looming the CC might also want a cover-up by McGinness.

    1. Howard P

      It is probably as easy to “profile” you as it is anyone serving/served in law enforcement, right?  Or are there reasons from some prejudices, but not others?

      1. Liz Miller

        My father in law was a retired LAPD detective.  He had a lot to say after he retired.  It opened my eyes and explained a lot, like why cops get away with so much.

  6. Todd Edelman

    All I can really see clearly is the DPD office in the light blue shirt running out of the left side of the car and then behind it and trying to grab anyone he can – see, his misses the first guy.

    I can’t help but think that things would have gone very differently in an alternative universe, one where:

    City of Davis and UC Davis supported the creation of an ad hoc committee with members of the BTSSC and the DPD, and then had a number of 2×2-type meetings with UC Davis and other relevant entities to determine the best balance of general access and restricted mobility for Picnic Day activities.

    They might decide that, for example:

    Parking would cost $20 per vehicle paid in advance, or $30 on the day (rather than free parking)

    All existing parking restrictions in certain areas would apply from Friday to Sunday, 24 hours a day.
    (rather than what I assume were no new restrictions)

    There would be free buses from Sacramento to Fairfield to Woodland to Davis, and from anywhere in Davis to Downtown and campus. Ideally Capitol Corridor would run some extra trains – but within Amtrak’s ridiculous rules there’s no way to officially allow free passage without some kind of order from very high up.
    (Instead of $1 payments to “pay for extra police”)

    On streets such as Russell where there would be not enough capacity on properties adjoining the street for people, car parking would be suspended and the westbound side of the street would be closed. In other words, the people are taking up a teeny tiny bit of Russell in this incident anyway, but “spilling out into the street” is a sad way to frame a normal byproduct of a celebration like this. Closing one direction of Russell – i.e. opening one side of Russell to people only – would keep everyone safer. Perhaps…. opening the whole street to people only for part of a day would be safer still. (It’s similarly terrible traffic management when the DPD requires one side of a street to stay open during the children’s parade at the beginning of the holiday season.)

    1. Howard P

      At this point, the “spilling” we should most be concerned about on Picnic Day has to do with ethanol-laced substances, and I don’t mean motor vehicles.  Unless we get a hold of that, bicyclists are just as likely to do a DUI thing, a hazard to themselves and others, but yes, I get the slant of the anti-MV thing.

      I just really don’t see how your proposals would have significantly affected the recent situation… compared to when I was as a student, students/young adults are ‘rich’…

      Does not look like MV’s were the problem… more like ‘tanked up’ pedestrians….

      1. Todd Edelman

        First of all I don’t want to downplay all the various threats of intoxication, public or otherwise. But also how many citations for DUI were given that night, how many Picnic Day-related crashes were there? Perhaps few or none? That’s good, so people had designated drivers, sobered up before driving? Would be good to know. (A “DUI thing” via bicycle is so much less… thingy — a tiny fraction of risk compared to a motor vehicle, and even less so to other road users. ) Were there other serious incidents? Aside from brain cell and liver issues and perhaps some unintended pregnancies and transmitted STD’s, were there any serious alcohol-related issues that night? If not, credit to whomever made it that way.

        Making people pay a reasonable sum to park or get free transit is a fair balance, and gives everyone an opportunity to come, and encourages carpooling… oh wait, sorry, this is about normal access to Downtown, but it would also work well on Picnic Day. It would make checking out the event a bit more difficult, so perhaps it would filter out anyone who comes to town or travels within the town with intentions of worse than mischief. Reducing traffic on many streets would enable that people opening I refer to, allowing some temporary expansion of party space into the street, which, to be explicit, is simply returning the street to the truly public realm for a blink of an eye…

        Anyway, the first DPD press release referred to the street being jam packed and the group blocking traffic, but all they were doing was taking up part of a corner where drivers normally slow down, and even more so that weekend.

        I’m not under the illusion that what I propose is any kind of panacea, but removing cars helps people relax a bit as they’re less restricted in terms of space and less aggravated by noise. Internalizing the costs of driving always helps – I would like to know how many cars normally come to town for this event in order to figure out how much income there would be from parking.

        1. Ron

          I probably shouldn’t say this, but charging to park (and generally making it more difficult to drive to, or near the event) “might” keep some troublemakers from attending.  It might also make it more difficult to bring alcohol.

          Not sure.

        2. Todd Edelman

          Ron, you can say it if in you’re not referring to anyone based on their ethnicity.

          Aside from any police or racial bias present, any judgement of the sheriff will no doubt be informed by a feeling – conscious or not – that the civilians were in violation of holy automobile space.

        3. Ron

          “Holy automobile space”.

          I like that description!  Thou shalt not block my path!  (Seems to be a favorite target of protestors as well.)

        4. Jim Hoch

          “charging to park” may not keep people out but needing advance parking reservations would certainly do so. Alum, family, etc can order a picnic day campus parking pass in advance. In order to buy one day-of you need a campus ID.

  7. Ron

    I’m going to “rant” a little more, here.

    If you’re confronted by a police officer, obey the orders (regardless of whether or not you think it’s appropriate, driven by racism, or whatever).  It’s not a “voluntary choice” – and is not subject to one’s personal judgement.

    How many tragedies and violent incidents could be avoided, if that advice was followed in the first place?

    Live to complain if necessary, later.  (And yes – thank goodness for cell phone cameras, these days.)

    (Yes – I know that there’s some question regarding whether or not the police identified themselves, in this case.  However, there certainly was some violence resulting in injured individuals – in this case, the police.)

    1. Todd Edelman

      That’s not how police-civilian confrontations work in the real world and… perhaps David will have the grace to delete your cold and absurd victim-blaming.

      1. Ron

        Todd:  From the videos I’ve seen, it’s not often that police will engage in violence against someone obeying orders.  (Of course, it goes without saying that disobeying orders does not justify unnecessary violence, either. And, it sometimes results in a crime, itself.)

        Not sure how that’s “cold and absurd victim-blaming”. (Yes, perhaps someone will “enlighten me”.)

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