More than a dozen people took to the podium at what was initially anticipated to be a very quick Escalon City Council meeting on Monday night, July 16 – the majority questioning police procedures and staffing in the wake of a violent assault on an Escalon officer.
The incident occurred just after 6 a.m. Thursday, July 12 as Officer Steven Quilici was on patrol and was dispatched to a reported hit and run collision in the 1900 block of Roosevelt.
What followed was a confrontation with a suspect – later arrested and identified as Adam James Weinheimer, 36, of Concord. Officer Quilici sustained multiple injuries during the altercation with the suspect and had to be taken to a hospital for treatment.
The concern of the crowd on Monday night is the fact that Officer Quilici had to wait for help to arrive – back-up came from the Ripon Police Department and the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Department. Officers working the graveyard shift in Escalon typically work alone.
That, however, was changed as of Monday, said Escalon Police Chief Mike Borges.
“The minimum staffing will be two officers per shift, 24 hours a day,” the chief said, with the shifts running 12 hours and officers rotating on a 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., 9 p.m. to 9 a.m. schedule.
The chief said they are working on re-tooling the schedule so officers will work three days and have four off on some weeks, looking for a system that works the best for all involved.
He admitted that having only one officer on graveyard is definitely not what the department wants but staffing has long been an issue.
The department does have 10 full-time sworn officers, including the chief, but currently has one new hire that is still in his field training period and can’t work alone and the chief is often called away from patrol for administrative duties, leaving fewer officers than ideal on the streets.
“The POA (Police Officers Association) is moving to address this issue,” Borges said.
Officer Quilici is expected to return to duty soon and Borges said the department is also utilizing reserves as needed to fill in gaps in coverage.
As far as the Thursday incident, a report from the police department indicated that when he arrived on scene, Officer Quilici located the suspect, Adam Weinheimer, on Roosevelt Avenue at Center Street. Weinheimer began walking away from the officer despite being ordered to stop, and when the officer approached the suspect and grabbed him by the wrist to get him to stop, Weinheimer spun and punched Officer Quilici repeatedly in the face and head.
At that point, Officer Quilici utilized his Taser but it had no effect on the suspect, who again started to walk away.
“Although injured, Officer Quilici followed Weinheimer while awaiting back-up,” the report noted.
When the suspect again charged the officer, Quilici utilized his Taser but it again had no effect. After several minutes had passed, officers from the Ripon Police Department and the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Department arrived on scene and were able to take Weinheimer into custody at First and Coley. The officer was taken to a hospital for treatment.
However, that was not the end of the incident.
“After Weinheimer was taken to the Escalon Police Department, Weinheimer assaulted Sergeant Flores, Officer (Carl) Poortinga, and an Evidence Technician from the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Department while trying to escape,” the report goes on to state. “He was re-apprehended before exiting the building.”
Following his arrest, he was transported to the San Joaquin County Jail where he was booked for four counts of battery on a peace officer, with an enhancement for causing great bodily injury during the commission of a felony, attempted escape, resisting arrest with force or violence, and hit and run. Bail was set at $160,000.
Weinheimer has a court appearance set for Wednesday, July 18 at 1:30 p.m. in Manteca Court.
Officer Quilici has been with the Escalon Police Department for about four years, said Borges, and is expected to make a full recovery and be able to return to work.
The incident, however, brought to light the inherent dangers of the one man coverage and Borges said the department will take the necessary steps to relieve that situation.