Man’s Charge on Felony Obstructing an Executive Officer Is Reduced to a Misdemeanor after Preliminary Hearing

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By Coco Wang

WOODLAND – A homeless man in Davis was charged with felony obstruction of an executive officer after making threats and attempting a physical fight with two police officers.

On Oct. 5, 2019, two police officers were dispatched to Pole Line Rd. in Davis at 2:42 pm after receiving a report concerning an altercation involving three people. The defendant, Anthony Culver, was allegedly intervening in an argument between another man and a woman, and allegedly shouted profanity and challenged the two police officers. The police officers made multiple attempts to calm Mr. Culver down, to no avail, and eventually handcuffed Mr. Culver as he displayed violence in resistance.

In this preliminary hearing, one of the police officers, Joshua Helton, testified.

Officer Helton stated that he was wearing his Class C police uniform and driving a marked police utility vehicle with lights on top on the day of the incident. As he arrived at the location of the altercation, he stated that he heard male voices shouting profanity and saw a woman walking away agitated.

As Officer Helton moved closer, he testified that he saw two males that he believed were about to start a fight with the other officer, according to their postures, and therefore he took out his Taser. The defendant allegedly appeared boisterous and continuously challenged Officer Helton with foul language to “Tase him.”

Officer Helton testified that he knew one of the two males personally and was aware that he was homeless. Officer Helton also claimed that he was aware that the other male, Anthony Culver, was homeless as well, despite not knowing him personally. To Officer Helton’s knowledge, homeless people generally carry weapons or improvised weapons for self-defense, although he claimed that he was not aware of whether the defendant was in possession of any weapon.

After Officer Helton’s multiple attempts to calm the defendant down, the defendant allegedly stated that he was going to leave but was asked to sit down. The defendant allegedly remained agitated in response to Officer Helton’s command, repeating several verbal threats and demonstrating his intention to do physical harm to the officers.

Officer Helton claimed that he then asked Mr. Culver to lie down on his stomach, which the defendant refused to do four to five times. Mr. Culver allegedly claimed that he would “f**k” the officers for hurting him, and was soon handcuffed by the officers, facing the ground. After Mr. Culver was allowed to stand up, he allegedly pushed his elbow toward Officer Helton, who was standing directly behind him, and continued his resistance with shouting and cursing.

To unbalance Culver, Officer Helton claimed that he pulled Culver’s hair backward, which enraged Culver, who then called Officer Helton “a bitch” and allegedly stroked him in the right thigh. Officer Helton claimed that Culver attempted numerous times to grab his groin, and he was under the impression that Culver was aiming for his testicles.

Afterward, the officers placed Culver in a patrol vehicle, where he continued to shout and banged his head on the glass. Officer Helton estimated the entire time of the incident to be 15 minutes.

During cross-examination, Officer Helton also testified that Mr. Culver cried at a point during his resistance to the arrest, and apologized for his behavior at least once. The defense, represented by Deputy Public Defender Aram Davtyan, asked whether Officer Helton had experienced having his hair pulled by another, to which Officer Helton replied yes. Mr. Davtyan argued that it was an emasculating act to pull a man by his hair, and Officer Helton explained that hair-pulling was the most suitable method at the time to minimize injuries to both Mr. Culver and the officers.

Mr. Davtyan submitted a Penal Code section 17(b) motion to reduce Mr. Culver’s felony to a misdemeanor, arguing that Culver had only asserted threats that were not materialized and utilized low-end violence in his resistance, which caused no pain. In addition, Davtyan argued that Mr. Culver potentially had mental health problems, although no mental evaluation has been done for demonstrating mental instability such as the crying and yelling.

The prosecution argued that Mr. Culver was immediately belligerent toward the police officers and used increased violence, and that attributing Mr. Culver’s violence to mental health is speculative due to his history of a lack of mental health problems.

The court granted the 17(b) motion to reduce Culver’s felony obstructing an executive officer to a misdemeanor.

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About The Author

The Vanguard Court Watch puts 8 to 12 interns into the Yolo County House to monitor and report on what happens. Anyone interested in interning at the Courthouse or volunteering to monitor cases should contact the Vanguard at info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org

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