A car powers up at a bank of electric vehicle charging stations located at Virginia Avenue Park. (Daniel Archuleta daniela@www.smdp.com)

The City of Santa Monica has declined to file charges against Justin Palmer in connection with his arrest while he attempted to charge his electric vehicle.

Palmer was at the Virginia Avenue Park electric car charging station on the evening of April 21 when he was approached by police officers. Both sides tell differing versions of the events that followed.

The police account of the incident states officers spoke to several people in the park, including others at the charging stations regarding park closure hours (the park closes at 11 p.m. while the charging stations close at 8 p.m.). They said Palmer refused officers commands to leave the area and that when officers tried to issue a citation, Palmer refused to provide identification resulting in his arrest. The statement issued by SMPD said Palmer “actively resisted” during his arrest resulting in the use of pepper spray.

Palmer, through his attorney Justin H. Sanders, has vigorously denied resisting. Sanders said officers singled out his client and approached him in an aggressive way. According to Sanders, Palmer was arrested and assaulted while exercising his rights to ask questions of the police.

Sanders, who notes his client has no criminal record, has been married for 13 years, is a father of four and a NYU graduate, said the lack of charges supports his clients assertions.

“The City Attorney’s decision not to prosecute Mr. Palmer was made within a few hours of the incident and is consistent with our position from the beginning that Mr. Palmer did nothing wrong,” said Sanders. “Mr. Palmer is clearly the victim of police brutality and extreme excessive force.”

Palmer was arrested for violating the City’s park closure ordinance, and delaying and obstructing officers in the performance of their duties. A statement issued by the City of Santa Monica on May 5 said that after careful examination of the circumstances, a decision was made not to file charges against Palmer.

“Factors which precluded the filing of criminal charges were Mr. Palmer’s belief that being present in the parking lot did not constitute a park closure violation, signage at the entrance to the parking lot of Virginia Avenue Park did not clearly indicate that the parking lot is included in the park closure ordinance, and a question concerning when Mr. Palmer arrived in the parking lot and when officers made their initial contact with him,” said the statement.

According to the statement, officials don’t believe they can meet the evidentiary standard necessary to secure a criminal prosecution given the “totality of factors associated with this incident.”

editor@www.smdp.com

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