Settling for the future: ‘Picnic Day 5’ will meet the cops they fought with in mediation setting

Restorative justice plea deal caps case that started with brawl outside UC Davis

This is an extended version of a story that appeared in the September 7, 2017, issue.

Four of the five defendants in the UC Davis Picnic Day case last week accepted a plea agreement that means they’ll be convicted of misdemeanor battery and felony charges of resisting a peace officer. In exchange, they’ve been granted an opportunity to participate in a unique restorative justice program that will allow them to earn the dismissal of the most serious charges.

According to a release from the Yolo County District Attorney’s office, Angelica Reyes, Alexander Craver, Iszir Price and Elijah Williams took a deal that includes one year of probation and requires that they participate in a county-sponsored restorative justice program. The fifth defendant, Antwoine Perry, was removed from the original preliminary hearing after he dismissed his attorney, but is expected to receive the same deal.

The incident in question, dubbed the “Picnic Day brawl” by local media, involved an April street fight between a crowd of partygoers and three police officers in an unmarked vehicle, which caused local activists to accuse the officers of racial bias, since every defendant in the case is either black or Latino.

Mark Reichel, Williams’ defense attorney, called the agreement “extremely uncommon,” but explained that it was a good outcome to a case in which the sides offered conflicting accounts. “Everybody gets to kind of move on without hard feelings,” he told SN&R.

Reached by phone, Mayor Robb Davis echoed Reichel’s assessment that the case’s resolution could prove something of a stepping stone in the small city, which has been trying to implement stronger police oversight for more than a decade.

“I’ve been working behind the scenes for a while to try and move in this direction,” Davis said. “This is going to lead to greater accountability. I think it’s going to lead to a good outcome for the young people involved and I think it’s going to lead to healing in our community.”

The mayor explained that the restorative justice process named in the agreement would be modeled on a program called Neighborhood Court, which he helped implement as a way to move lower-level offenses outside of the traditional justice system. In this case, the defendants and officers will meet together with a trained mediator, and give their impressions of the incident, something Davis hopes will lead to understanding on all sides.

“I think this is the future of our criminal justice system,” he concluded.