A freshly arrested Elijah Williams told a Davis detective in a stationhouse interview after a Picnic Day brawl that he didn’t know the man he grappled with was an undercover Davis police officer.
Davis Police Det. Kimberly Walker detailed her interview with Williams in the first day of a preliminary hearing Thursday for Williams and the four others dubbed the “Picnic Day Five” in Yolo Superior Court. The hearing continues Friday afternoon before Yolo Superior Court Judge David Rosenberg.
The case generated controversy from its April 22 outset with its violent exchange between plainclothes officers who piled out of an unmarked minivan into a crowd of Picnic Day revelers on Russell Boulevard near the UC Davis campus and into a melee that led to the arrests and injuries to two of the officers.
Williams, 19, and Alexander Reide Craver, 22, of West Sacramento,and Antwoine Rashadek Perry, 21, of Elk Grove were arrested along with two others, Angelica Monique Reyes and Iszir Daquan Price, in the April incident. All face felony allegations of assault on a peace officer and other charges related to the incident. Yolo county prosecutors say that Craver choked one of the officers, Williams punched an officer and accuse Reyes of repeatedly kicking one of the officers in the head.
Williams had come to Davis for Picnic Day and a party at a fraternity house before leaving after a “commotion” there, Walker testified. She said Williams later told her he became involved in a fight in the road at Russell Boulevard with people he did not know, Walker said from the stand, throwing punches that did not connect before wrestling with a man he described only as white and in his mid-20s, wearing, in Walker’s words, a “military-style necklace.”
Williams said he reacted with surprise when the man – Davis Police Det. Ryan Bellamy – shouted “Stop. Stop. It’s the cops,” and “Quit resisting.”
“What are you talking about, bro,” Williams answered before he pushed off of Bellamy and ran, Walker testified. Walker said Williams told her he never saw Bellamy wearing a badge.
Defense attorneys seized on the confrontation arguing that Bellamy wore nothing that identified him as a peace officer and asking Walker whether the minivan officers rode in contained any markings that identified it as a police vehicle.
Both contentions are at the center of the controversy surrounding the incident, with a police inquiry into allegations that police used excessive force and exhibited racial bias. Four of the five accused are African American men.
Police dashcam and other private video recordings captured the melee which involved as many as 50 people who made their way onto the road. A gray minivan pulled next to the group with punches thrown at the officers as the van’s doors opened.