On September 14, Porterville Police personnel became aware of a large gathering of bicyclists gathered at Veteran’s Park near Henderson Avenue and Newcomb Street.
The estimated 100-300 bicyclists left Veteran’s Park and travelled eastbound on Henderson. Officers both observed and received radio information these bicyclists were blocking the entire eastbound roadway of Henderson and failing to stop at red lights, nearly causing collisions. Some of these bicyclists actually entered Target and rode within the store. All on duty personnel responded to the incident.
Upon arrival, officers activated their emergency lighting and gave multiple verbal commands to the bicyclists in attempts to stop bicyclists that were observed violating traffic laws. The bicyclists refused to stop and continued traveling westbound to Main Street before turning south, with many of them ultimately ending up in the area of Main Street and Orange Avenue. Additionally, during this time, a number of the bicyclists directed many vulgar and profane statements toward the officers.
Ultimately, five bicyclists were detained and taken into custody. Each of these bicyclists were actively refusing to yield to emergency vehicles and ignoring multiple orders to stop for police officers. There was no inappropriate use of force used during these arrests.
After the above incident occurred, there were a number of social media posts alleging improper acts by members of the Porterville Police Department.
It was alleged that officers attempted to hit bicyclists with their vehicles in attempts to stop them. At no time did any officer attempt to hit a bicyclist with their vehicle.
It was alleged that officers pulled their duty weapons and pointed it at bicyclists, including a claim that a weapon was pointed at the head of a bicyclist. At no time did any officer display a weapon or point it at any bicyclist.
It was alleged that some bicyclists were “tazed” by officers. At no time was a Taser used on any bicyclist.
It was alleged that officers tackled bicyclists off their bicycles. None of the bicyclists were tackled off their bicycles. Of the five arrested, one was pushed off as he rode close to an officer as the bicyclist attempted to ride around him. A second bicyclist was pulled off his bike as he attempted to ride around the officer.
It was alleged that bicyclists were injured during their arrest and were denied medical attention. At no time was any bicyclist injured, nor did any of them claim they were injured.
In addition to the above, there were several social media posts claiming there was video of officers acting improperly. The Porterville Police Department encourages anyone who has video of officers they believe acted inappropriately, or video they believe is in contradiction to the above information, to contact Porterville Police Department Patrol Division Commander, Captain Jake Castellow, at (559) 782-7404.