In Wake Of Valencia Gardens Police Brutality Allegations, Protest Planned For Tuesday Evening

San Francisco police are being accused of brutality in a case that involved a bicyclist at the Valencia Gardens public housing complex in the city’s Mission Dolores neighborhood on Friday afternoon.

D’Paris Charles Williams, 20, was arrested after apparently riding his bicycle on the sidewalk at about 3:40 p.m. Friday at the complex near Rosa Parks Lane and Maxwell Court.

The arrest of Williams spurred an altercation between other people at the complex and prompted three more arrests, police said.

However, a friend of Williams, local photographer Travis Jensen, talked to people at the complex and said their stories, as well as a cellphone video taken at the scene and posted on YouTube, show that the incident was a case of police brutality.

“Clearly something not right is happening here,” Jensen said.

He said Williams, also known as DJ, was simply riding his bike on the sidewalk up to his residence in the complex when he was approached by undercover officers who said something about riding on the sidewalk, then grabbed him from behind and beat him for no apparent reason.

Jensen said witnesses at the scene said Williams suffered a broken jaw and other injuries when he was attacked by police.

He said when others joined in, it was out of concern for Williams.

“People don’t get that upset for no reason. They were upset because they were seeing DJ getting beaten,” Jensen said.

In the YouTube video of the scene, available above, a plainclothes officer wearing a brown shirt is seen charging at a witness.

“He’s sort of leading the charge on the whole incident,” Jensen said of the officer.

Jensen said he has mentored Williams, a City College of San Francisco student who has taken an interest in photography.

“He’s a good kid,” he said, adding that Williams was biking home from the “Batkid” festivities in San Francisco on Friday when the officers confronted him, and that he only had a Hostess cupcake, Capri-Sun drink and Reese’s Pieces candy in his possession.

Police spokesman Officer Gordon Shyy said the incident started when Williams tried to flee into a residence after plainclothes officers tried to stop him for a vehicle code violation.

He then allegedly resisted the officers, who used “reasonable force” and arrested him, Shyy said.

A hostile crowd then gathered around the officers, two of whom suffered injuries not considered life-threatening in the scrum. One person tried to hit an officer with a cane while another bit an officer, according to Shyy.

A total of four people, including Williams, were arrested, Shyy said. Williams and another person were arrested for felonies, one was arrested for a misdemeanor and the fourth was cited and released.

Williams was booked into custody on suspicion of assault and battery on an officer, felony resisting arrest, a traffic code violation and an outstanding local warrant, Shyy said.

Jensen said Williams remained in custody as of this afternoon and that his family and friends were trying to reach him.

“Nobody has heard anything,” he said.

Jensen said he and other community members are planning to hold a rally at 5 p.m. Tuesday outside the Mission Police Station to protest the officers’ actions in the case.

“We’re prepared to do whatever we need to do to shed light on this,” he said.

Dan McMenamin, Bay City News

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  • neutral_corner

    Let’s hope that felony assault on a Peace Officer is grounds for eviction from your slick new community subsidized housing!

    • John Stehlin

      “assault on a peace officer” is essentially standard if an officer is at all injured during an arrest, even if the injury was self-inflicted. ever jumped someone who was riding a bike or had one in hand? you’re likely to get scraped. the “deadly weapon” cited in the “assault” was apparently the bike. maybe if the conservative orgs that recruit paid trolls spent a little more they’d get improved quality out of you.

      • neutral_corner

        I said, “felony assault.” And — hey! — I’m a “card-carrying” progressive; I voted against Prop 8, unlike the majority of the African-American residents of San Francisco! Though I’m sure it’s easier for you to console yourself with the idea that a) only a conservative would subscribe to the idea that citizens should obey a lawful order to dismount a vehicle, b) one would have to be paid to express an idea with which you disagree and c) that I was referring to the cyclist, who is apparently not a resident of Valencia Gardens according to what I’m reading here, and is therefore not subject to eviction.

        I was referring to the assailants who reside in VG and interfered with a lawful citation and arrest procedure.

        • John Stehlin

          i’ll disregard the race-bait in the second sentence, but given that you should probably add quotes around “progressive” too. but i’m sorry to assume you were a Fox News troll. as for the lawful order, it’s likely that it wasn’t–the sidewalk in question was inside the complex, not on a public sidewalk. thus the vehicle code may not apply. and the “weapon” the “assailant” carried was apparently a cane he needed for medical reasons. charges have apparently been dropped, so it’s probably not the case that the officers were in the right. the officers started a melee for no reason, and it got out of hand. unfortunately, that’s also standard in law enforcement these days.

          • Guest

            I think we can presume that anytime a melee is started, there is a reason for it — just, perhaps not good reasons.

            Do the residents of VG bear absolutely no responsibility for the escalation of this incident?

          • John Stehlin

            I don’t really know why you’re making this about Prop. 8, unless your misunderstanding of that election has made you racist. The issue at hand is a completely unjustified stop by plainclothes police officers who were beating someone senseless. Even if we accept that police adequately identified themselves to DJ Williams, they may not have to other residents until tensions were already high. They created the brawl and VG residents were coming to Williams’ defense. My conception of justice does not include standing by while police beat down an unarmed 20-year-old, even if the charges are bound to be dropped due to their misconduct. So if “escalation” means interfering with an unjust arrest, then I suppose I will credit VG’s residents for “escalating.”

            Guest, it seems like you posted at 2:15 EST. Do you live in CA? I work around the corner from VG.

          • neutral_corner

            Why was the stop unjustified, and why are you implying that the “beating” was taking place during and not subsequent to the suspect evading or actively resisting arrest? And you appear to be trying to straddle the shaky ground that the officers were simultaneously identified as undercover officers and as attacking civilians. If the latter, then your concept of “justice” isn’t germane to the assault accusation — it’s simply citizen vigilantism. By what “right” does a passerby presume to determine whether an arrest is “just or unjust?”

          • John Stehlin

            If you were to watch the video, at 1:03 a man in grey comes up and presumably yells something at the officers, at which point one of them (in plainclothes) comes at him swinging. This man in grey was one of those arrested and charged with “assault.” I can only assume that you see that as justified.

            Let’s wrap it up, but as a side note, I think your progressive card might be expired.

          • neutral_corner

            My progressive bona-fides are not subject to the whim of your limited review process, and your tendency toward unsubstantiated presumptions is sort of the hallmark of your analysis of this situation.

          • John Stehlin

            Given your protests as to your “bona-fides” this was potentially an avoidable spat, so maybe I was too quick to pounce on a few statements. But your words were all I had to go on, and they had the flavor of someone who has sided with police in what appears to be a disproportionate use of force. May they be chosen more carefully in the future.

        • Kai Creaux

          What’s a peace officer? We haven’t called them that for decades. We are not responsible enough not to be policed! I will acknowledge your ignorant statements even as indefensible as they are.

      • @johnstehlin:disqus – Actually it’s standard if the officer beats somebody, whether or not the officer experiences any assault or injury.

  • Sooneridver

    Silly question… if, as his mentor states DJ is such an outstanding citizen and all around good kid (20 years of age) then why was there an outstanding warrant for him?

    • Jonathan Pomboza

      Read it again. There was no outstanding warrant for DJ. Stop spreading misinformation.

      • LVLHeaded

        “Williams was booked into custody on suspicion of assault and battery on an officer, felony resisting arrest, a traffic code violation and an OUTSTANDING LOCAL WARRANT, Shyy said.”

        If you’re going to tell someone to read the text, the least you could do is read it yourself. Now can we please get more information about this??

        • Jonathan Pomboza

          please if you decide to paraphrase, do it correctly. it was an outstanding traffic warrant. similar to not paying a ticket. what are you trying to get at.

          “Williams was booked on charges of assault and battery on a peace officer, felony resisting arrest, a traffic violation and an outstanding traffic warrant”

          • LVLHeaded

            We must not be reading the same thing because as I look at the page it says “outstanding LOCAL warrant”. Unless the article has been edited and we’re reading two different versions, please check again. And it wasn’t a paraphrase. I was quoting the text from the article. There should be no argument here.

          • Jonathan Pomboza

            Two different versions. updated the page. SMH.

          • eveb

            Hi, Jonathan. Eve Batey, editor of the SF Appeal, here.

            No, we *did not* publish two different versions of this story, nor was the article changed post publication.

            In fact, I can personally can assure you that not a line in this story has been changed since its publication Monday night, since I’m the one who originally published it.

            Attached is the original version of the paragraph you’re referring to, as it appeared on the Bay City News wire at 5:37 Monday night. I moved it to publish on the Appeal shortly thereafter.

            You’ll see that it is identical to what you see on the page today. I’m hopeful that that will help cease the S your H is doing.

          • Greg

            Nothing like some accountability.

          • LVLHeaded

            HA! Thank you!

          • Jonathan Pomboza

            Thanks Eve for clarifying. I found a different article that said it was a traffic warrant. It was my mistake, too many tabs open.


          • neutral_corner

            Stand-up guy.

          • LVLHeaded

            No. You just can’t read.

  • LVLHeaded

    Just to remind everyone- there was an UNDERCOVER officer there waiting for him. This wasn’t just stopping someone for using a bike on the sidewalk. Obviously something was planned that we don’t know about yet.

  • Patrick Connors

    I wonder why the DA (former Police Chief of SF) decided not to pursue any charges against Williams – the ones pressed AFTER he was beaten along with a few of his neighbors – or the outstanding local warrant?

    Isn’t that a curious tidbit?

    I guess he knew there wasn’t evidence to proceed. Could it be that the police were wrong…were overly aggressive…were basically spinning their wheels trying to cover up the mess they made??

    • @patrick_connors:disqus – With all charges dropped the SFPD avoids having that video subpoenaed, and internal investigations will be conducted in secret. The public has a right to see it, though.