Court Issues Protective Order in Neighbor v. Neighbor Case; Defense Suggests ‘Skin’ Color May Be Issue

By Citlalli Florez

WOODLAND, CA – A Yolo County Superior Court judge here this week granted a protective order for one neighbor after the alleged victims claimed they were threatened—although the public defender said there was scant evidence, and the accused might be targeted because of the “color” of his “skin.”

The accused pleaded not guilty and is currently out on bail. The next court date is in March.

The prosecutor sought a stayaway civil protective order (CPO) from the alleged victims of the case and his wife, requesting the accused remain 15 to 20 yards away from the alleged victims. The accused and the alleged victims both live in the same apartment complex.

Yolo County Deputy Public Defender Jonathan Opet argued he didn’t have enough information, just a complaint and a one page report which he claims doesn’t provide much information. The DDA, as a result, provided a brief summary of what she understood to have happened.

The report noted the alleged victims had a friend coming over to the apartment to drop off their mother. The accused allegedly threatened the friend by indicating that he was going to shoot him while motioning toward a waistband as if he had a gun. No gun was actually seen.

The incident report said both the alleged victim and his wife retreated inside while the friend left. When they came out again to leave for the day, the accused and the accused’s wife allegedly approached them. The accused then allegedly approached the victim to curse at him and said that he would shoot him while reaching toward his waistband.

According to the DDA, the accused also “made statements that he would clock him and lay him out and he would shoot his ass.” 

Defense Attorney Opet rebutted, saying “the order is discretionary, so the court doesn’t have to issue one, at this stage it’s very one sided in terms of what happened, but I have suspicions about this case and the origins of the interactions that the complaining witnesses described and the reason why they called the police.”

He continued, “We’re looking forward to investigating those and bringing to light what actually happened in this case. It’s a little hard for me to exactly defend against the bold allegations and the probable cause declaration but it doesn’t need to be an issue in every case, and I ask the court not to issue this.”

Not in agreement, the prosecutor argued, “I think there’s multiple statements taken from three separate individuals that indicate similar threats and similar actions.”

She indicated there were similar actions in a case in which the accused was fired from his job. The accused, the deputy district attorney said, made threats to the people who were at his job and motioned as if he had a gun.

The DDA said she believes the prelim will provide more information, but that as of now, a stayaway order would be appropriate.

DPD Opet argued that “here’s my concern judge, that if in truth the complaining witnesses have engaged in a pattern of harassment against my client and his family due to the color of their skin, I’m worried that they’re going to use this CPO as a method to further harass [the accused] and his wife.”

Judge Timothy Fall asked the DDA, “You are reading from a police report. What is your response to Mr. Opet’s argument that maybe this is part of neighbors that aren’t getting along, I will put it in those terms.”

The DDA answered, “I have no information other than what Mr. Opet said in regards to that. There was no indication of that. I don’t believe he was interviewed or he either wasn’t interviewed or chose not to make a statement.”

In response Judge Fall said, “I don’t need to see the actual police report—as an officer of the court I’ll assume you are accurately describing it.”

Finally, the judge decided that he found good cause to issue the CPO, the accused would no longer be able to receive or own a firearm or ammunition. A stay away order was issued in which he cannot come within 20 yards of the alleged victims.

DPD Opet objected to the condition that the accused not be able to possess a gun or ammunition because it is “unconstitutional under the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution.” The judge overruled this objection but noted it for the record.

About The Author

Citlalli Florez is a 4th year undergraduate at the University of California, Berkeley. She is currently majoring in Legal Studies, Chicana/o Studies, and Art Practice. She intends to attend law school in the future with the purpose of gaining skills to further serve her community.

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