Frame by frame Friday, a Davis police investigator dissected the seconds of video footage taken of the Picnic Day struggle between plainclothes police officers and the men now facing a preliminary hearing on assault charges in the wild April 22 melee near the UC Davis campus.
Testimony continued in a Woodland courtroom Friday in the preliminary hearing for the four young men and woman dubbed the “Picnic Day Five,” Elijah Williams, Alexander Craver, Iszir Price, Antwone Perry and Angelica Reyes, as the videos – just seconds long – were played in court for the first time.
Testimony and a third day of hearings are set for Aug. 29 before Yolo Superior Court Judge David Rosenberg.
All five face felony charges of assault against a peace officer in brawls with undercover Davis police officers who piled out of an unmarked police van and into a large disturbance on Russell Avenue.
Defense attorneys say the five were attacked and were defending themselves against the men, unaware they were officers until after punches were landed and they were taken to the ground.
Davis police Det. Joshua Helton with prosecuting Yolo County Deputy District Attorney Ryan Couzens discussed video images that showed a chaotic scene in the middle of a Davis street. Images showed side-by-side struggles involving Williams and one plainclothes officer and Craver scissoring another officer with his legs as they are surrounded by dozens of onlookers.
In another image, an officer appears to have Reyes in a headlock. Yet another image shows Reyes appearing to prepare to kick an officer wrestling with Craver as another woman appears to pull her away; and Williams, with his raised, clenched fist visible through the crowd.
In the meantime, Davis police officer Nicolas Peel had detained Price and Price’s cousin a couple of blocks away from the brawls. In Thursday’s first day of testimony, Peel testified that Price saw one of the men tangle with Perry, adding he thought the men dressed in street clothes were “people like us – random people,” until one of the plainclothes officers shouted, “Undercover. Undercover,” and showed his badge.
Peel said Price later told him, “Listen, I’m not trying to fight a police officer.”
Perry and Reyes related similar stories, said Davis police Det. Joshua Helton, who interviewed the pair.
Reyes told Helton she was punched by someone she thought was an officer and briefly blacked out from the blow, only learning from others that she had been struck, Helton testified. Perry exchanged words with the men in the van before the punches flew.
Neither said they saw a police badge, officers testified.
A police detective who interviewed Williams testified Thursday that Williams said he responded with surprise when one officer told him during the fight that he was an officer and demanded Williams “quit resisting.”
“What are you talking about, bro?” Williams said, according to Davis police Det. Kimberly Walker.