At least a few dozen people gathered outside the Turlock Police Department on Sunday night to demonstrate in support of Turlock Black Lives Matter Movement co-founder Jaimee Ellison, who was arrested early that day for allegedly trying to free a man being taken into custody by police.
Ellison, 24, was booked on felony charges of battery on a peace officer and attempted rescue of a prisoner, the Police Department said in a news release Sunday night at 8, just as the demonstration was starting. Promoted on social media as a “Hands off Jaimee” and “#freejaimee” protest, it was held even though Ellison was released at least an hour earlier. She was at the event.
According to the police news release, officers were on the 100 block of West Main Street about 2:30 a.m. Sunday for a report of vandalism. They were approached and told that a person in a nearby vehicle may be armed with a gun. The witness was not anonymous and provided a full statement, the release said.
The driver, Swede McDaniel, 34, of Modesto, was on post-release community supervision and searchable. He was told police were going to search him and the car.
When McDaniel got out of the car, officers saw a handgun on his seat, the release said. Ellison, a bystander who had until this point been only yelling at the officers, approached “and began to physically intervene,” the release said.
“Ellison continued to follow and harass the officers as they were securing McDaniel in a patrol car, eventually physically intervening,” it said. “Ellison pushed two separate officers multiple times. One of these strikes caused a piece of the officer’s equipment to move up and hit him in the lip, causing a small injury.”
Ellison had been warned repeatedly, police said, until an officer told her she was under arrest. She “actively resisted arrest, but was taken into custody.”
At the gathering outside the Police Department on Sunday night, Ellison denied assaulting officers but, because she had yet to consult an attorney, declined to talk in specifics about her actions that morning.
She said she and a friend were downtown when they saw police vehicles rolling in and heard someone had broken a window of one of the Main Street businesses. She and her friend had to walk that direction anyway to get to their car, so decided to see what was going on.
Ellison, who co-founded the Turlock BLM Movement in May 2020, gave no indication Sunday night that she was aware of the report of a man with a gun. What she saw on Main Street, she said, was the apparent vandal sitting on the curb, numerous intoxicated people, yet the police focusing on the Black occupants of a car.
She questioned how officers handled the McDaniel arrest, saying, “They escalated it so fast.” Without offering specifics on what police should have done differently, she added, “They should hold themselves to a higher standard as cops. I don’t see why it’s so wrong for us to ask cops to be more respectful and more professional.”
McDaniel was booked on felony charges including being a felon in possession of a firearm and probation violation. He remained in custody Monday morning, with bail set at $75,000.
Turlock police ask that anyone with information on the incident call Officer H. Hernandez at 209-668-5550, ext. 6734. Information also may be left on the Police Department’s tip line at 209-668-5550, ext. 6780, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Interim Chief of Police Steve Williams told the Turlock Journal that his department is reviewing body camera footage from the incident and will release a midweek update.
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