SAN DIEGO – The San Diego City Attorney’s Office says it will not prosecute a local homeless man who was tackled and punched by two officers last month after being stopped for urinating along the side of a La Jolla road.
The May 12 arrest of 34-year-old Jesse Evans, who is Black, drew attention and outrage after it was captured on video by a bystander at Torrey Pines Road and La Jolla Village Drive. Body-worn camera footage shows Evans punched in the face and body by officers in a tussle that ended up on the pavement with officers repeatedly calling on him to stop resisting. The department said that Evans punched at the officer “several times.”
Evans was booked into county jail on suspicion of resisting arrest and battery on a police officer.
Police initially referred the case as a felony to the San Diego County District Attorney’s office, which declined to prosecute, a spokeswoman from Elliott’s office said last month. The case then was referred to the city attorney “for possible prosecution as a misdemeanor.”
But in an emailed statement Friday, City Attorney Mara Elliott said, “Our City’s resources could better be used providing public restrooms.”
In the weeks since the incident, Evans has appeared in public with local civil rights activist Shane Harris. During a May 14 news conference, Evans said that he’d forgiven the involved officers, but called for changes to how police interact with the community’s homeless population.
“I hope I’m the last victim of such nonsense,” he said.
Harris, president of The People’s Association of Justice Advocates, said in a statement Friday that the organization is happy Elliott’s office decided not to move forward with charging Evans with a crime. His office plans to work with Evans and his attorneys in the coming days “to see what he wants his next steps to be.”
“The imbalance of resources being invested in our police department versus public safety at large is very telling in the encounter that Mr. Evans had with San Diego Police Officers in La Jolla,” Harris said. “We need more resources invested in the full concept of public safety. Mr. Evans should not have been punched out by our public servants.
“Instead he should have been offered to be taken to a nearby restroom or a social worker should have been on the scene.”
The San Diego Police Department’s Internal Affairs unit was investigating to determine if officers violated any department policies.