Halema Buzayan/Yolo County DA's Office

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This page contains one version of the Halema Buzayan incident. This is a summary of the version that was presented by someone referring to themself as a "Public Servant."


Yolo County DA's Office Releases Facts of the Case

On April 17, 2006, Judge Warriner dismissed the juvenile Petition against Halema Buzayan on the ground that there had been a civil compromise, i.e. restitution had been voluntarily paid. He also said that the juvenile court system has nothing to offer to rehabilitate the minor. He said that she learned her “lesson” through multiple court appearances. He said that the Davis Police had done their job in resolving the case. His dismissal was not a finding that she was innocent.

Subsequently, the Yolo County District Attorney’s Office has determined that with no pending juvenile court matter and the minor’s earlier written and oral requests that her confidentiality be waived and her constructive waiver of confidentiality (by her behavior) the office can now talk about the facts of the case with the public. On Tuesday April 25, 2006, the Yolo County District Attorney’s Office provided Lauren Keene of the Davis Enterprise an opportunity to review the evidence and audiotapes of the case.

Here are the facts of the case:

Minor Halema Buzayan was charged with driving on June 7, 2005 and violating Section 20002(a)VC (hit and run, misdemeanor), Section 14603 VC (driving in violation of restrictions, infraction-her license was issued on May 19, 2005 and had a 12 month restriction not to have transport passengers under 20 years without a parent or other driver who is over 25 years old), and Section 22106 VC (unsafe starting and backing, infraction).

On June 7, 2005, around 630-730pm two witnesses Marc Rowe (21 years old) and Carly Collins (22 years old) observed a Toyota Highlander in the Safeway South (Davis) parking lot backing out of a parking space and moving really close to a parked Mazda. After the Toyota was re-parked into another space, they saw damage on the Mazda where the Toyota had been very close and which matched damage on the Toyota. They watched a young girl 17-20 years old, dark shoulder length wavy hair, blue jeans, white teeshirt (possibly with frog designs), non-white and maybe of Middle Eastern heritage get out of the Toyota’s driver seat, talking on her cell phone. Two young boys 11 and 13 years old (or so) also got out of the Toyota. The two witnesses watch the driver and boys go into Safeway. As the driver walked pass the Mazda, both witnesses saw the driver discretely - trying not to be obvious - look at the damage on the Mazda. The damage was bumper to bumper damage with paint transfers. The driver did not leave a note, so the two witnesses did. They took a camera phone photo of the Toyota’s damage.

Around 7:30 pm, the victim Adrienne Wonhof-Gustafson came out of Safeway, saw the new damage, and found the note. She went home and called the police. Officer Pheng Ly was dispatched to take the call. He photographed the Mazda’s damage, took the note, promised to contact the owner of the Toyota and get back to her. The victim told him that she had already contacted the witnesses who said it was a girl driving the Toyota. The Toyota registration came back to the Buzayan family in south Davis.

Officer Ly then went to the Buzayan family home, but no one was home. He returned an hour later and talked with Jamal Buzayan, his wife Najat Darrat and their daughter Halema. The wife said that she went to Safeway three times that day, driving the Toyota on the second and third trips. She said that the third trip to the store was after 5 pm, but before 630 pm and she had all four children in the car - boys 6, 11, 14 and Halema. She denied hitting any car and denied re-parking the Toyota into another space. Halema denied driving the Toyota at all that day. Officer Ly’s contact with the Buzayan family as audio-recorded appears to be cordial, except the mother demanded to know if someone have taken her photograph. Officer Ly provided them with information from the victim and encouraged them to contact their insurance company. The mother is wearing a Muslim head scarf - a hijab - at this contact. In another interview she stated that she had worn her hijab all day long. Officer Ly recontacted the witnesses who stated that the driver was not wearing a head scarf. Officer Ly believed that the witnesses’ description identified minor Halema as the driver.

That same night Officer Ly re-contacted the victim, provided her with the Buzayan’s insurance information and told her that all the drivers in the Buzayan family deny hitting the Mazda. The victim, after consulting with her husband, told the officer that she wanted to press charges. Officer Ly then returned to the police station to prepare a photo lineup which included minor Halema. He contacted the witnesses and showed them the photo lineup. Rowe picked out the minor Halema. Collins picked someone else.

The family apparently contacted the victim and paid her money for repairs and car rental costs. To date, Officer Ly has never been contacted by the victim with information that she received restitution from the family. The payment of restitution however does not dismiss the criminal charges. The family paid directly, not going through insurance.

On June 13, 2005, Officer Ly went to the Buzayan home to arrest minor Halema for hit and run. He tried going out at 6:54pm, right after briefing, but no one was home. He returned around 9:38 pm with Officer Hartz and arrested the minor.

Here are the issues raised by the minor and her family:

  1. 930 pm arrest - is allowed. Under PC840, arrests for misdemeanors and infractions are permitted up to 10 pm. Officer Ly was working a 6pm-6am shift Saturday-Tuesday, with some Wednesdays, and was responsible to complete this investigation and arrest. The father’s request to bring her into the station the next day was not possible with the officer’s schedule.

  2. “Pajamas” - The minor was wearing a blue teeshirt and long pants - clothing often worn by teens in the public and which the officer thought were street clothes. The teeshirt is documented in the minor’s booking photo. At no time were the officers told that the minor was in her nightclothes and should change. To Officer Ly, she did not appear to have been waken up from sleep. School was already out for the summer break.

  3. Minor did ask “Should I change” and Officer Ly said “No, that’s fine, you aren’t going to be there that long. Just put some shoes and socks on. Okay?” The minor was allowed to go upstairs unescorted to get shoes and socks and apparently decided not use that opportunity to change her clothes. If the officer had been told that she needed to change out of her “pajamas,” he would have accommodated her.

  4. The family accuses Officer Ly of yelling, commanding and ordering the family around in their own home - The audiotapes reflect (both Officer Ly’s and Officer Hartz’s simultaneous recording of the arrest) that Officer Ly was polite, calm, and professional.

  5. Officer Ly’s observation that the mother wore a hijab (Muslim head scarf) and his comment that the mother dressed traditionally are not proof of religious or ethnic discrimination - they were Officer Ly’s observations of her clothing for the purpose of identification.

  6. Miranda - The minor never asserted her Miranda Rights. She did ask about having her father’s attorney, apparently a benefit provided to him as an UC employee, but never said anything affirmative about wanting an attorney to be present.

  7. Should a photo line up with the minor’s mother included been presented to the witnesses? No, the mother is 43 years old and clearly not a 17-20 year old girl.

  8. Excessive force - The family claims that Officers Ly and Hartz were both fingering their guns during the arrest. Both officers deny this. The family claims that Officer Hartz’ presence (as the backup officer) was unnecessary and overwhelming. The family claims that Officer Ly used excessive force in the fingerprinting process. The fingerprint card shows clear prints, which would not be possible if the fingers were pressed too hard. Pressing too hard would create smears and smudged prints. The minor complained that Officer Ly was mean when he told her to put on her seatbelt, and that she should have been told that the car seat was hard. They claim that Officer Ly was so mad that they thought that he was ready to hit them.

  9. The family complains that the minor should not be alone with a person from the opposite sex - If the parents had stated that the minor should not be transported alone by a man, the officer would have accommodated them. They asked, Can I ride with her? The officer responded that they can follow his car. At no time did the minor or her parents explain that she should not be unescorted in these circumstances. It is unreasonable for the parents to have expected to be present during the minor’s interrogation.

You may also visit the Davis Enterprise for a full story regarding the case, including audio tapes of the interviews. (4/28/06)


General Comments should go on the Halema Buzayan page.

Comments:

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2006-04-29 20:54:39   I have long thought that the events as portrayed before the DA account was published simply didn't make sense, and this makes the whole picture add up a lot better. However I am a little bit skeptical about the completely wrong interpretation of miranda here. Miranda wasn't ABOUT providing a lawyer when asked, the entire precedent of Miranda was that one was to be told that they had such rights. As such, its nonsensical to say that miranda doesn't apply because the arrestee didn't assert their rights — Miranda is intended to let them know they have such rights. —KrisFricke


2006-04-29 21:01:03   Is there a source for this text? How do we know it's from the DA's office? —PhilipNeustrom


2006-04-29 21:04:03   What Philip said. There should at least be a definitive cite to whatever legal document was summarized. —GrumpyoldGeek


2006-04-29 21:16:19   If it was a mistake to post this information and DavispublicServant is trying to undo it, then I'd say let him remove it. If the attribution is wrong (not from the DA's Office), then we could just call it something else. —SharlaDaly


2006-05-08 08:54:23   As far as I can tell, the release of information by the Yolo County DA's Office regarding a juvenile case is against the law. See [WWW]Yolo County Court - Juvenile Rules. The District Attorney cannot, on its own, authorize the release of confidential information. They needed to get permission from the Juvenile Court first. This is a violation of trust. —SharlaDaly


2006-05-08 16:22:30   [WWW]www.caroleonline.com has posted a response to the Davis Enterprise article, posting of police tapes on the Davis Enterprise website and Editorial regarding Officer Ly's conduct. The Davis Enterprise had a front page article about CAROLE website update today (5/8/06), but did not post it on their website so I cannot link to it. —SharlaDaly


2006-05-09 12:33:02   Actually the article is online: [WWW]http://www.davisenterprise.com/articles/2006/05/08/news/237new3.txtHenryBianco


2006-05-18 07:55:56   What was the real message sent by the Yolo County Judge? This entire matter was an extraordinary waste of time and tax dollars. Both the Davis Police Department and the DA's office should have had the sense to drop this matter at some point but both refused to do so. The case demonstrated poor judgment of those directly involved, poor supervision over those involved and a non-existent review process.

The effort by the DA to explain/defend the actions was an obvious the effort by the deputy DA to resurrect herself after falling flat on her face. This particular deputy DA probably causes more conflict in the Davis community than any other single individual - if you do not believe it, just watch her for awhile. The only question is who will be her next victim? I have never seen a DA attempt to prosecute a case in the media after a case was dismissed - a complete abuse of power and certainly unprofessional. The DA’s explanation proposes that the Judge did not find the defendant innocent – where I live people are presumed innocent until proven guilty.

The argument that Officer Ly is biased has been exaggerated - claims of bias are almost always exaggerated in Davis. However the amusing part of this is that the Davis Police and this deputy DA have both attempted to promote themselves by falsely claiming others of racial bias. What goes around eventually come around. - and it certainly has.

I wonder how the deputy DA would have handled the case if the defendant had either Chinese or Vietnamese ancestry? I would bet the case would have been dropped long ago. The defendant’s family came from Asia, so where was D.A.R.E when she needed support? Perhaps the group should change its name to something like – OCTDARE – Only Certain Types of Davis Asians for Racial Equality.
SteveHayes

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