7th of June, 2005
According to a police report, two witnesses spot the Buzayan's SUV moving near a sedan — they "do not see contact between the two vehicles," but notice some damage to the car as the family's SUV pulls away. The witnesses leave a note for the sedan's owner, Adrienne Wonhof. With the help of Davis police, she reaches the Buzayans.
10th of June, 2005
Adrienne Wohof locates the Buzayan family. Adrienne Wonhof, : "They said they hadn't hit anybody's car, and that they didn't think that they did it."
Jamal Buzayan: "Her bumper is much lower than my bumper." The damage to the two vehicles doesn't seem to match, and no one in the family recalls any collision, but Jamal writes a check for $870 anyway.
10th of June, 2005
Later, Davis Police interviewed the Buzayan family.
Officer Pheng Ly: "The subject kinda has a smile on her face when she's telling me all this. I think she knows more than what she's saying." Then, the officer takes note of Najat's traditional head scarf. Officer Pheng Ly: "The interesting thing I noticed about the mom is that she wears something over her head and the daughter doesn't and the witnesses didn't mention anything about that, think they would have mentioned that to me. So, it's probable the daughter was driving the car."
Ly never bothers to ask Najat about her scarf — if he had, he would have found out that both the mother and her daughter, Halema, wear them sometimes. Still, the officer has the two witnesses check a photo lineup with Halema's picture. One identifies her as the driver, the other picks someone else. Davis Police do not take what would seem to be the obvious next step.
Whitney Leigh, Buzayans' attorney: "They never conducted any lineup that included a photograph of the mother which is standard police procedure and something that really surprised me in this case."
ABC7's Dan Noyes: "Who was driving?" Halema Buzayan, arrested teen: "It was my mother who was driving." Dan Noyes: "No question about that?" Halema Buzayan: "There is no question, no."
13th of June, 2005
The records show Halema and her mother never vary from the story. Still, six days after the incident — three days after the family paid the bill — Officer Ly is back at the Buzayans' home — 9:30 on a school night, with back-up.
Jamal Buzayan: "I was really scared of them, cause both had hands on the gun."
The officer asks Jamal to see his daughter, Halema, the 16-year-old honor student, but she's asleep. He offers to bring her to the station in the morning, but Ly insists. Halema comes down the stairs and gets the shock of her life.
Officer Pheng Ly: "Well, based on my investigation, okay, I believe that you were driving the car, okay?" Halema Buzayan: "Are you serious?" Officer Pheng Ly: "So, I am placing you under arrest, okay?" Halema asks to change out of her pajamas, but Officer Ly insists she just throw on socks and shoes. Her father stands by helplessly. Jamal Buzayan: "That was the most humiliating experience I had in my life. And, you know you're just hopeless and you don't even know what's going to happen."
The officer drives Halema to the police station, interrogates her, and books her. He tells the girl again and again to just tell the truth, even while fingerprinting her.
Halema Buzayan: "He takes my fingerprints and every time he pushes down, he pushes down really hard, and he tells me, 'Tell the truth, tell the truth, that's all you have to do,' and he just seems so angry with me." Dean Johnson, ABC7 legal analyst: "I think the arrest was over the top in this case."
Friday, March 24th, 2006
And District Attorney David Henderson is also taking action. He's asking the judge to shut out the media by putting a gag order in place. The Yolo County District Attorney decided to prosecute. But their aggressive tactics are raising questions. The D.A. is also asking the judge to place sanctions on the Buzayan's attorneys for talking to Channel 7 in the first place. They say this will protect Halema Bazayan since she is a minor. Both sides will be in court this Friday.
General Comments should go on the Halema Buzayan page.