Prelim Reduced to Picnic Day 4 As Defense and Prosecution Clash

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Protesters in front of the Courthouse Tuesday morning

By Luis Gael Jimenez

The third day of the preliminary hearing for the Picnic Day Five came and went and there is still no conclusion as to whether or not Judge David Rosenberg will allow the multiple felony charges levied against the group to carry forward into an actual trial.

The day began with defense attorney Paul Pereira announcing that his client Antwoine Perry had dismissed him as counsel and that he would be unable to continue representing him.

Rosenberg allowed Pereira to withdraw from the defense counsel and excused Perry from the joint preliminary hearing.

Perry will now have his own preliminary hearing, separate from the other four defendants. It’s important to note that the five defendants might still be tried together at the same time if the case goes to trial.

Deputy District Attorney Ryan Couzens began by reintroducing People’s witness Detective Josh Helton to the stand.

Couzens and Helton walked through the statement that Helton took from Perry on April 22.

Perry told Helton that he believed the fight had been his doing. Perry was the first person to approach the unmarked police cruiser at the intersection of Russell Boulevard and College Park where the brawl took place.

According to his testimony, Perry told Helton that he initially said something like “f— you, what’s up,” to the plainclothes officers before he began “trying to get big,” which Helton mimed as someone throwing their shoulders up in the air and raising their arms in a suggestive manner.

It was then that Officer Sean Bellamy, who was seated in the front passenger seat of the minivan, interpreted one of Perry’s movements as hostile or threatening and opened the door to the van.

The force with which he opened the door and whether or not he hit Perry with the door were disputed by the defense and Officer Helton, with the defense saying that the impact from the door sent Perry flailing backwards and Helton saying the video didn’t show sufficient evidence of impact.

Helton also argued that Perry’s movements, when he was trying to “get big,” looked like those of someone reaching for a gun in their waistband and that was what Officer Sean Bellamy had seen as well, causing him to try to subdue Perry.

It was then that Couzens brought up the bullets found in a backpack belonging to Perry after the brawl had subsided. He also decided to bring up text messages that police officers had found after Perry’s arrest, insinuating that he was buying and selling guns and narcotics.

Defense attorney Jeff Raven argued that the mention of the texts and the bullets had no bearing on the events that happened on April 22.

“He had no gun. There was no gun… These bullets are now introduced later to justify the police officer’s actions,” Raven said.

The third day of the preliminary hearing marked a noticeable increase in tension between defense attorneys and Mr. Couzens.

Judge Rosenberg even had to step in at one point and ask Couzens to stop leading his witness, Detective Helton, through the wording of his questions.

“I’m permitting you to ask hypothetical questions, but not in such a leading fashion,” Rosenberg said to Couzens, after defense attorney Mark Reichel objected to the wording of a question three consecutive times.

Reichel was especially impassioned during the cross-examination of Helton, raising his voice several times. Couzens objected to Reichel’s cross-examination for being argumentative on multiple occasions.

“They’re just so biased. Clearly, they’ve rehearsed everything and they have a production that they do where the cops are the victims. I mean Elijah [Williams] is the victim,” Reichel said later outside of the courtroom. “[Helton] had no problem answering all of Ryan [Couzen’s] questions.”

Throughout the cross-examination of Detective Helton, the public allowed in the courtroom could be heard audibly reacting negatively to Helton’s responses to the defense.

Helton seemed quick and responsive during his testimony under the prosecution’s examination, but combative and more forgetful under the cross-examination led by the defense.

At one point, Reichel asked if Helton had seen a television interview that Perry conducted after charges were first filed against him.

“Yes, Mr. Perry was interviewed on TV. On FOX 40, right,” Helton said.

“Do you remember him saying that he would never hit a cop as a black man,” Reichel said. (What Perry actually said was, “I know with all that’s going on, I would never hit a police officer because I’m black.”)

“No, I don’t recall that,” Helton said.

Helton later went on to emphasize that Alexander Craver was strangling Officer Steve Ramos during their conflict.

Helton then refused to say that Craver was “defending” himself against Ramos, who had gone from being “strangled,” to gaining a top mount fighting position over Craver.

Helton claimed that the word “defense” has an implication that implies someone is being attacked and that, instead of defending himself, Craver was instead countering or cancelling the move by Ramos to gain grappling advantage, not defending himself.

The defense counsel would later again argue with Helton over whether officers were engaging with the head and neck of the defendants. Helton held steadfast that the officers were instead going for the shoulders of the defendants.

Reichel mentioned the dashcam video where Ramos can be seen grappling with Angelica Reyes.

“That [dashcam] video, at a point, shows Ramos’ arm around her neck,” Reichel asked Helton.

“His arm looks like it’s somewhere near her head or neck. I can’t say,” Helton said.

Helton would also argue that he wasn’t sure what Ramos’ intent was when he began grappling with Reyes.

“I do not know his [Ramos’] intent with the grapple, but at one point, Ms. Reyes did end up on the ground,” Helton said.

Reichel argued that Reyes was being “thrown around like a ragdoll,” but Helton refused to testify to that.

He argued instead that they were moving around “in a fashion,” but that she wasn’t being manhandled the way Reichel interpreted.

The growing tension between defense counsel and the prosecution and their witnesses came to an anticlimactic end when the day was called to an early end after defense attorney Emily Fisher left to take care of a family emergency.

The preliminary hearing will resume on Aug. 30 at 10:00 a.m., on the fifth floor of the Yolo County Superior Courthouse in Woodland, California.



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29 thoughts on “Prelim Reduced to Picnic Day 4 As Defense and Prosecution Clash”

  1. David Greenwald

    Readers – just wanted to introduce you guys to Luis Jimenez.  He’s going to write for us periodically as a free lancer when we need someone to help cover stuff.

  2. Tia Will

    I’ve learned that lesson from seeing our council often cave to the same few activists that usually show up at almost every council meeting.”

    Examples please of when you feel that the city council has caved into the “same few activists”. And please, lets skip the MRAP in which it was not a few activists but a very large segment of the community that did not feel this was an appropriate acquisition.

     

    1. Howard P

      Well, since you, and only you up to this point, brought up the M-letter thing, what does a “very large segment of the community” (out of a population of 65+ k) mean?  My guess it means less than 500.  Suspect the whole thing flew under the radar of 30k, and 34k of those who were aware, had no opinion.

      1. Jim Hoch

        From my observation 500 may be an overstatement. I am pretty involved with schools (2), soccer, dogs, etc and I never heard anyone saw anything about it in my daily life.

  3. PhilColeman

    A defendant firing his lawyer during a legal proceeding in never a good and hopeful sign for any and all wishing for an acquittal or dismissal.

    One could speculate why, the untimely firing of a legal representative. But let’s leave speculation and imaginative thinking to those who have already seized it as the core for their entire argument for dismissal. We’re now fully into that persistent demand for justice, which is properly in the courtroom, not the lawn outside the courthouse or a blog.

    Assuming what is summarized here is reasonably accurate, I’m simply in awe of how tolerant Judge Rosenberg is in latitude given to the defense. This is a compliment, seen as an effort on the judge’s part to give full benefit to a case that increasingly appears to be a defense battle to the last at the PX level.

    Text messages referencing selling guns, and seizure of bullets in the possession of the person making the texts is devastating evidence. Attorney Raven can, and has, argued that it’s irrelevant. The reason that it’s irrelevant is no gun was found. Weak argument.

    Should Judge Rosenberg rule the bullets in the defendant’s backpack are relevant to the case and admissible, this case will likely never come to trial.

    Again, on the assumption that attorney Mark Reichel is being fully and accurately depicted, he asked the detective if he had seen a TV interview given by defendant, Perry. Reichel was trying to use a TV interview to introduce a (misquoted) statement that Perry as a black man would never hit a police officer.

    So what? It was a self-serving comment by the defendant, has little or no value in a preliminary examination. Reichel couldn’t call the person saying the remark, he’d be cross examined and it would not be pretty. Perry’s remarks on TV are contradicted by his own later behavior admissions to the detective. They try to “kill the messenger” and attack Detective Helton. But he’s holding up pretty darn well.

    This case is fast becoming one of the most bizarre court and Davis community sagas in recent history.

     

     

    1. David Greenwald

      “We’re now fully into that persistent demand for justice, which is properly in the courtroom, not the lawn outside the courthouse or a blog.”

      I respect you Phil, but I think you got a lot of things wrong in this post and in the end I think the public pressure played a huge role in convincing the DA to offer a plea of this sort.

    2. Antoinnette

      Amen to that, Phil!

      Someone’s fishing for notoriety…too bad for them, this case like others will soon be yesterday’s news.

      Bullets had ,”no relevance?” Come on, Jeff, you’re far brighter an attorney than that…smh

       

      It’s almost comical…2 plus 2 makes 4. You don’t walk around with ammo for the fun of it…right?

      In fact, it’s a huge piece of the puzzle in what started the whole darn brawl.

      Although, I’m confident that the plea deal was encouraged by Raven, he’s a good man,  exceptional defense attorney, who much like the officers attacked, exude honesty, integrity trustworthiness and a passion for what he does.

      Glad it’s over, with exception of Perry which will probably mimic the others plea deal acceptance.

      Time to move forward for everyone!

        1. Antoinnette

          Thanks Howard, although I spoke too soon on enterprise article’s comment section.

          I’m now a racist—–!(beep) I suppose I could have expected people to assume such. These remarks show little inclination to what I believe in or fight for.

          Funny, too, since I’m Hispanic, French and have bi-racial grandchildren.

          I guess I do have to appreciate the filtering of ugly posts, ungodly language on this website.

          Thanks, Don Shor..

      1. David Greenwald

        “You don’t walk around with ammo for the fun of it…right?”

        You do if you had gone on a hunting trip.

        “Time to move forward”

        Forward is the resolution of the internal investigation, the implementation of the new police oversight protocols, etc.

  4. Tia Will

    demand for justice, which is properly in the courtroom, not the lawn outside the courthouse or a blog.”

    I very respectfully given Phil’s superior knowledge of our police and legal system disagree with this statement. “Demand for justice” rightfully occurs anywhere and everywhere an injustice is identified.  This was proven in this country by the demand that the nation recognize ( often on their TV at home) the injustice of “separate but equal accommodations” in the south. It was demonstrated by scenes of police ( supposedly the guardians of justice) turning water hoses and dogs loose on peaceful protestors.

    Adjudication  of justice and administration of its implementation do belong in the courtroom. Demand for justice should be the responsibility of every citizen every day of our lives as we are able.

     

    1. Keith O

       “Demand for justice” rightfully occurs anywhere and everywhere an injustice is identified

      So Tia, as far as the Picnic Day 5/4 is concerned has an injustice been identified?

      Or are you letting “your preconceived notions” enter into your thinking?

  5. David Greenwald

    Big news

    Plea in Picnic Day. ‪Pleading to a felony resisting with deferred entry of judgement, misdo battery with a restorative justice component ‬

  6. Tia Will

    So Tia, as far as the Picnic Day 5/4 is concerned has an injustice been identified?”

    My opinion on this issue is irrelevant. It was at least of enough concern to the police that my understanding is that they have changed some of their procedures on the basis of this event. This would indicate to me that they saw at least “room for improvement” even if they would not have labelled it “injustice”.

     

  7. Tia Will

    From my observation 500 may be an overstatement”

    Perhaps you were so busy with your other activities that you did not attend either of the city council meetings at which this was discussed or the mediated community information events which were very well attended although I did not take attendance and thus have no numbers for you. I do not dispute that people with very busy lives are often lacking in interest & or time. That does not mean that many others are not involved.

    1. Howard P

      Tia… you wrote…

      but a very large segment of the community that did not feel this was an appropriate acquisition.

      then you write, in rebuttal to,

      From my observation 500 may be an overstatement

      (your words follow),

      Perhaps you were so busy with your other activities that you did not attend either of the city council meetings at which this was discussed or the mediated community information events which were very well attended although I did not take attendance and thus have no numbers for you.

      I see no justification for your first statement, nor for your rebuttal (given your own admission of ‘no count’) in a city of 65k… inplicit/subconscious bias?

    2. Jim Hoch

      Tia,

       

      The point I suppose is that some issues get traction in non-activist circles. The MRAP never once came up in conversation and it would surprise me if even 5% of the adults in Davis could articulate what it was.

      If you go to 20 meetings and they all have the same people in them that does not make the issue of interest to a large group of people.  MRAP was “inside baseball”

       

  8. Howard P

    Todd might have had a good point on another thread… perhaps we should have a vote of the people on a lot of issues… multiple choice… yes, no, don’t care, and for election of people to office, we should add ‘”don’t care”, and “none of the above”.  Heard that Nevada did the latter, but haven’t heard how that has worked out…

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