May 21, 2021
Mara W. Elliott, Esq.
City of San Diego
1200 Third Ave., Ste. 1620
San Diego, CA 92101
Re: Arrest of Jesse Evans
Dear City Attorney Elliott,
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is the Nation’s oldest and largest civil rights organization, having been founded in 1909 in response to ongoing violence against African Americans. The San Diego Branch is one of oldest branches of the NAACP, having been chartered in 1919. The mission of the NAACP is to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of minority citizens of the United States. We write to you today to request that the City Attorney office thoroughly investigate whether San Diego police officers violated the City’s use of force and de-escalation policies during the arrest of Jesse Evans and that any and all charges against Mr. Evans be dropped.
On May 12, 2021, a homeless black man named Jesse Evans was forcefully detained and assaulted by San Diego police officers. Despite the San Diego Police Department’s recent adoption of de-escalation policies, and the Mayor’s clear policy statements in support of the homeless, bystander footage shows Jesse Evans repeatedly being punched by police officers in the face and the body, despite the fact that he was already on the ground. An alleged crime of urinating in public is not justification for the way that Mr. Evans was treated and appeared to be yet another example of violent interaction by police against people of color.
On May 13, 2021, the NAACP San Diego Branch visited Mr. Evans in jail and witnessed Mr. Evans’ black eye and substantial facial swelling. We also discovered that he had been charged with felony assault on a police officer and resisting arrest. Based on the bystander video, this appeared to be an attempt to overcharge Mr. Evans, thereby depriving Mr. Evans of his freedom. The NAACP sought to contact the District Attorney assigned to the case. On May 14th, we learned that the felony charges had been rejected by the District Attorney and that the case had been referred to the City Attorney’s office for misdemeanor prosecution.
Despite the now misdemeanor nature of the charges, we have been informed that Mr. Evans required a $20,000 bond for release on bail. This bail amount appears to be unrelated to any public safety concerns or any flight risk that Mr. Evans posed. Such bail amount seemed intended to ensure that Mr. Evans remained in jail pending trial, as it would be impossible for any homeless individual to raise such bail, or even post collateral for 1/10th of the bail. But for the fundraising efforts of Amie Zamudio, Shane Harris and Michael McConnell, Mr. Evans might still be in jail.
Whatever crime that Mr. Evans allegedly committed is far outweighed by the overreaction by the police. Mr. Evans was not a threat to anyone. In addition, law enforcement appeared unable to appreciate any mental health challenges that Mr. Evans may have had in responding to police. We are relieved that the brutal beating that Mr. Evans experienced did not further escalate into the use of batons, tasers or lethal weapons. Nevertheless, the fact that Mr. Evans is still breathing does not let the San Diego Police Department off the hook. Punching someone in the face while yelling “stop resisting” is not a reasonable method of gaining compliance. If such behavior is considered acceptable, San Diego Police Department’s Use-of-Force Policy must be revised immediately. The Citizens of San Diego expect that the San Diego Police Department will treat all people, including the homeless, with dignity, respect, and tolerance.
The NAACP San Diego Branch urges you to conduct a full investigation and make the findings of that investigation public. In addition, we urge you to drop any and all charges against Jesse Evans. There is little to gain from such prosecution, and so much more to gain by helping Mr. Evans and similarly situated individuals. Thank you for your consideration. We look forward to hearing from you.
Francine Maxwell, President
NAACP San Diego Branch
Donte Wyatt, Esq.
Chair- Legal Redress Committee
Todd T. Cardiff, Esq.
Member-Legal Redress Committee
PO Box 152086
San Diego CA 92195
(619) 431-1633 Phone/Text
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