Three Men Charged With Felonies for Yucaipa Protest

August 26, 2020 Updated: August 26, 2020

Three men involved in the Aug. 1 protest in Yucaipa, California, have been charged with felonies related to the event, including one charge of assaulting a police officer, the San Bernardino District Attorney’s Office has reported.

The three were in a vehicle that allegedly drove erratically during the protest, nearly striking a peace officer. When the vehicle was stopped, police said they found weapons in the car.

The driver of the vehicle, Andres Ballesteros Medina, 41, of Rialto, was charged with felony assault on a police officer and possession of a dangerous weapon, according to a District Attorney’s Office report posted online Aug. 19.

Medina and the vehicle’s passengers, Michael Anthony Nunez, 33, of San Bernardino, and Gilbert Lee Nunez, 37, were all charged with possession of a “leaded cane” or baton—more commonly known as a billy club or blackjack.

Medina pleaded not guilty to the charges on Aug. 4. If convicted, he could face up to five years in state prison for the alleged attack.

After reviewing the case, the DA’s Office opted to charge Michael Nunez and Gilbert Nunez on a single felony count of possession of a billy club. They have not yet entered pleas.

If found guilty on the billy club charge, the suspects could face a year in county jail.

Billed as a peaceful protest in support of Black Lives Matter, the Aug. 1 rally quickly descended into chaos after protesters illegally blocked traffic. The Yucaipa Police Department estimated the crowd at 280 people, including residents, protesters, and counter protesters.

“The protesters began driving west on Yucaipa [Boulevard] and then a number of them illegally blocked traffic and began walking east in the middle of the road,” the Yucaipa Police Department stated in an Aug. 2 media release.

“When the protest became volatile, the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department declared the protest an unlawful assembly.”

The three suspects were allegedly in a car that “drove recklessly through the closed roadway and yelled profanities toward the crowd of residents. While attempting to stop and detain the subjects, Sheriff’s personnel were nearly struck by Medina who was driving the vehicle erratically,” the media release stated.

“In an attempt to escape, Michael Nunez ran from the car, but was arrested by deputies. Medina and Gilbert Nunez fled the scene in the vehicle but were apprehended blocks from the incident. Several hammers, makeshift weapons, and 2-way radios were located in the vehicle.”

Another man, Tobias Walnofer, 25, of Redlands, was charged with a misdemeanor for allegedly failing to disperse at an unlawful assembly.

Other participants in the protest that were arrested have not yet been officially charged.

Mike Bires, public affairs officer for the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office, told The Epoch Times via email that some of the latter cases are still under review “or have not been submitted to our office as of today [Aug. 20].”

Whether or not all those arrested will be prosecuted “depends on the totality of the case (statements, police reports, evidence, etc.) presented to the deputy district attorney review filings,” Bires wrote.

“The protesters would not face charges if there was a lack of sufficient evidence,” he added.

Silvia Anguiano, 34, of North Hills was arrested after allegedly driving in a dangerous manner. Police said she drove her vehicle in circles with her juvenile son in the car and “stopped sideways while she yelled at counter protesters several times, placing her child in the middle of a potential riot.”

Also arrested for “failing to disperse” were Daniel Garris, 35, of Yucaipa; Mayra Grajeda, 27, of Banning; Crystal Duarte, 25, of San Bernardino; and an unnamed 15-year-old male minor from North Hills.

All suspects were booked at the West Valley Detention Facility and then released from custody.