Commentary: Why Did DA Cut a Deal with the Picnic Day Bottle Thrower?

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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.

From the initial press release: “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.”

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



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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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14 thoughts on “Commentary: Why Did DA Cut a Deal with the Picnic Day Bottle Thrower?”

  1. Keith O

     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.

    It will be interesting to hear his testimony.  I’m sure he will testify to the mindset of the crowd, who said what first who started the fight.  I think the DPD and the DA have more than the Vanguard thinks or else they wouldn’t be persuing this.

     

     But Ms. Reyes is not only diminutive in size, but she has open-toed shoes on, leading one to question just how much damage the kicks are actually inflicting.

    Nice how the Vanguard tries to downplay someone kicking and hitting an officer while they’re on the ground.  I rewatched the video and she wasn’t just lightly kicking the officer, it looked to me like she reared her leg back and delivered full kicks.

    1. David Greenwald Post author

      “I think the DPD and the DA have more than the Vanguard thinks or else they wouldn’t be persuing this.”

      Maybe. I’ve seen a lot of cases where the DA pursued and it was thin as can be. Look at the elder abuse case last week that ended in an acquittal and a hung jury on the second charge.

      “Nice how the Vanguard tries to downplay someone kicking and hitting an officer while they’re on the ground. I rewatched the video and she wasn’t just lightly kicking the officer, it looked to me like she reared her leg back and delivered full kicks.”

      I think it’s reasonable to question how much damage she might have done kicking him with open toed shoes on.

      1. Howard P

        Imagine, trying to stab someone repeatedly with a dull butter knife (or a spoon)… thought ‘intent’ mattered, not just the resultant damage…

        Yet, a main point about Mr Lopez, appears valid…

        1. David Greenwald Post author

          Howard, if they had charged her with simple assault, then you would have a point about intent. However, with assault likely to produce great bodily injury, then the result also matters.

        2. Howard P

          Acknowledged…

          However, I seem to recall that two of those present were reported to seek/receive medical attention… the others reputably involved, did not, based on reporting to date… the two are not currently charged with any crime, but some have opined they should be, and/or fired…

    2. Jim Hoch

      It is interesting that David has not volunteered to serve in a re-enactment to prove his point. I do know several petite women who own open toed shoes and would be eager to serve. Perhaps a new fundraiser?

      LMK.

       

  2. Tia Will

    I do know several petite women who own open toed shoes and would be eager to serve.”
    Am I diminutive enough to serve ?  David has twice requested my participation on short notice at events. This one could be fun !  ( Just joking David ! You know I’m a pacifist.)

  3. Tia Will

    “I think the DPD and the DA have more than the Vanguard thinks or else they wouldn’t be persuing this.”

    I think that that the DA has over reached on a number of occasions over the past few years. In this case, I think that the original police account is likely to hurt since not substantiated by video.

        1. Howard P

          Worse than a glass bottle upside the head? I wouldn’t know… have experienced neither… do tell…

          Oh, once, did get hit once in the face… didn’t hurt all that much, but took ‘the fight’ out of me… got a mouth injury that subsequently became infected… 7th grade… don’t even recall what the fight was about… something trivial, and I’m pretty sure our testosterone was starting to kick in… for both of us…

        2. Howard P

          Forgot… also got a single ‘gut-shot’ punch once… by a black kid striking out against a ‘whitey’ [day after MLK was murdered]… knocked the wind out of me for about 15 seconds (seemed much longer at the time)…

          Our ‘black’ Vice Principal saw it, and after making sure I was OK, reamed the other kid a new orifice (verbally) and made it patently clear that Dr King would be ‘pissed’ by the attack.  That incident left me pretty much ‘color-blind’. Believe I was already inclined that way, due to my parents…

          People are people… jerks are jerks…

  4. Howard P

    Here’s how I’d ‘split the baby’… the 5 charged:   40 hours of public service, 50% of Court costs… the sixth (uncharged) 120 hours PS, the other half of court costs;  The officers:  written reprimand, 40 hours either un-paid leave or un-paid public service.

    The meter is running…

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