In an earlier column I noted an encounter at Farmer’s Market with a man who pushed back on our coverage of Picnic Day and accused me of anarchism for reporting on people calling for the DA to drop the charges against the Picnic Day 5.
One of his points was that one of the officers was struck with a bottle on the side of the head and there was no conduct by the police that justified that.
This is similar to a point made by the Davis Enterprise columnist Bob Dunning who noted: “One alleged witness claims the police were at fault for not properly identifying themselves, as if beating and kicking someone on the ground and smashing them in the head with a beer bottle is somehow OK if the victim is not a police officer.”
The columnist wrote, “I don’t care if the cops were in plainclothes or riot gear or wearing nothing but Speedos, and I don’t care if they were driving an unmarked car, an MRAP or riding bicycles, nothing justifies the beatings they sustained.”
There appear to be three parts to these incidents – there were one-on-one fights between the individuals and the police officers, there were the actions of Angelica Reyes who was said to punch and kick the officer while on the ground, and there is the bottle incident, which from what I can tell we don’t see on video.
The argument goes that while you may be able to claim self-defense and mistaken identity in the one-on-one fights, it’s hard to justify either the conduct by Ms. Reyes or the bottle. But Ms. Reyes is not only diminutive in size, she also has on open-toed shoes, leading one to question just how much damage the kicks are actually inflicting.
If that’s the case, the most serious conduct could be said to be the bottle.
The press release continued: “One suffered injuries to his eye and face and the other was treated for a bleeding head wound caused by a bottle.”
If the major injuries are suffered from the bottle, then that would appear to be the most serious assault.
That being the case, does anyone else find it odd that no one is actually charged with hitting the officer in the head with the bottle?
No one appears to be charged with assault with a deadly weapon which would be PC section 245(a)(1). Instead the defendants are charged with 245(c), assault by means of force likely to produce great bodily injury on a peace officer.
Attorney Mark Reichel confirmed for me that no one has been charged with hitting the officer in the head with the bottle.
That seems odd because it would seem to be by far the most serious and least defensible charge.
Instead, what we discover is that the sixth individual, Romeo Lopez, was arrested, held for questioning and then released without being formally charged. It turns out, based on information released by Davis police at the time, that he was charged in his arrest with assault with a deadly weapon on a peace officer (PC section 245(c)).
But we also know that Mr. Lopez is not one of the defendants.
Why not? We are told that he cut a deal with prosecutors that he would not face his charges in exchange for testimony that he will give against the other five defendants.
Think about it – the guy who is believed to have perpetrated the worst and the least defensible action, the action that caused the most serious injury to a police officer, is not being charged for his conduct and is instead allowed to give testimony for the prosecution.
The signature crime in the Picnic Day incident was the bottle to the officer’s head and yet, inexplicably and without any public explanation, that individual will walk scot-free and be the star witness for the prosecution. A witness, by the way, who has given at least two different versions of what happened that day, so his value as a witness will be in question at best.
So next time you want to walk around to me and say, how can you defend the Picnic Day 5 when they hit the officer in the head with the bottle, just remember that the guys who are charged with the incident are not facing the charge of assault with a deadly weapon, and the one who was has cut a deal.
—David M. Greenwald reporting