“That’s him,” shouted the woman in the Walmart parking lot near Aero Drive and Interstate 15. Seconds later, Jeffrey Saikali felt a car bump him in the back of the legs. “I swept my arm around and pounded once on the hood of the car,” he says. “Just then, the woman jumped on me from behind.” The motion of his arm brushed the woman off, too, Saikali says, and she went down. “The next thing I know, the driver, a very big guy, is out of the car and has me down. He proceeds to choke me and beat the top and back of my head, driving my face into the pavement. All the while he’s berating me with profanities. Before long I was lying in a pool of my own blood. I thought I was being murdered. There were people who had gathered around to watch, and the woman was bragging to them that the attacker was a martial arts expert. I cried out for someone to help me. But the most anyone would do was to warn my assailant to stop because if he killed me things would go very badly for him.”
Moments earlier, Saikali and his female antagonist had been in a verbal dispute in Fry’s Electronics across Stonecrest Boulevard to the south. It was about 7:30 in the evening on Saturday, April 13, 2013. Saikali had gone to shop in the store and was speaking with a salesman. He had already put a few items into a cart that was standing nearby. He noticed that a woman began walking away with the cart. He let her know, and the woman apologized. Saikali figured the incident was over. But, he recalls, the woman came closer and insisted that his proper response to her apology should have been, “That’s okay.” Saikali says he told the woman, “You said you were sorry; the matter is done with.” He then went on talking with the salesman.
But the woman approached and pointed her smartphone at Saikali, announcing that he was being recorded. Saikali says he placed an envelope between her camera lens and his face. “When she maneuvered for a better angle, I moved the cellphone aside. She then began screaming that I hit her.”
A man Saikali took to be a security officer quickly appeared. The man asked Saikali to step into another aisle while he spoke with the woman. After waiting longer than he thought was reasonable, Saikali decided to leave the store. As he walked out the doors, he says, he heard the woman call out, “You have to stop him.” But he says no store employees complied. The woman then followed Saikali through the Fry’s parking lot. Saikali says he deliberately kept walking forward without looking back.
He walked almost as far as the front door of the Walmart store across the street, where he reversed his course. He could hear the woman calling someone on the phone to hurry and come.
“I sensed from voices around that other people were joining her,” says Saikali. “Now the woman also shouted that I had thrown her down.”
A light-gray car approached and passed him in the parking lot. Saikali says he could hear the car turn around behind him as the woman identified him to its driver. He maintains that during the beating he then endured, police officers arrived but did not intervene, allowing the assailant to continue briefly before stopping on his own. Police then handcuffed Saikali and stood him against a patrol car. “I could barely stand,” he says. Eventually, police put him in the car and an officer came to ask for his account of what happened. “But the officer did not take notes or use a recorder,” he says.
A cop with a bad rep
One of the first things Saikali told police was that he needed medical attention and wanted to be sent to the hospital. He says they told him he didn’t need it. But an ambulance did arrive shortly. Saikali’s eyeglasses had been destroyed in the beating, and he says he could barely make out people talking behind the ambulance’s open doors a short distance away. Soon it drove away without its attendants examining Saikali.
After his continued insistence on going to the hospital, a second ambulance appeared, and attendants examined Saikali inside it. Sergeant Kenneth Davis then entered and issued Saikali a misdemeanor citation for “battery on a person.” Saikali says he requested of Davis several things, starting with an explanation of what the citation was for. But the officer refused to answer.
Jeffrey Sakali talks about the Murphy Canyon incident
Jeffrey Sakali returns to the Fry's parking lot where he had been in an physical altercation with two strangers, beaten by one of them, and then subsequently detained by Sergeant Kenneth Davis.
Was the man who beat Saikali also issued a citation? No. Could Saikali press charges against the man? No.
Davis then left the ambulance but not before becoming candid on one point. “He told me that I deserved my injuries,” Saikali says.
Sergeant Davis is already known in town for behavior ranging from questionable detainment to criminal stalking. In 2007, a lawsuit was filed against Davis in federal court for malicious prosecution. Southeast San Diego resident Melford Wilson had objected loudly and with obscene language to a drug investigation Davis was conducting in the neighborhood. The officer arrested Wilson for obstructing the search. After Wilson sued, the city attorney’s office was able to have the charges dismissed. But a 2011 appeal in the U.S. Appellate Court’s Ninth Circuit resulted in the judgment being reversed. A key issue in the case was Wilson’s constitutional right of free speech. But after the case was remanded to the district court, a second jury exonerated Davis again.
That same year, however, Davis didn’t fare as well. In the spring, he was charged with felony stalking against fellow officer Robin Hayes and was put on a three-year administrative leave. In a preliminary hearing, Hayes testified that Davis had also threatened to kill her. Through plea bargaining, Davis was eventually allowed to plead guilty to misdemeanor stalking. On October 13, 2011, after his trial concluded, NBC San Diego ran a story headlined, “Officer Stalks and Walks Free.” Davis soon was back at work on the streets.