By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
"Jeanette said she was going to call the police," said Reeves. "I told her not to, that he would leave. He was just picking up cigarette butts and, like he'd always done, meander away. She said, 'No, he's breaking into cars. I'm going to call the police.' I said, 'No, he's not breaking into cars.'"
DeMarco then asked Reeves for the number to Fullerton police dispatch. He supplied it, she lit a cigarette, walked 5 feet away, to the other side of the entrance gate and made the deceitful call claiming she'd witnessed Thomas trying to break into cars. Nobody else was around, but the bouncer heard every word she uttered to the dispatcher.
"Jeanette made the phone call where she falsely accused [Thomas] of breaking into cars," said Reeves. "The police arrived within minutes. The police beat him to death. . . . I believe the phone call was made to make it sound like he was armed and dangerous—a man committing a crime."
That was Reeves' version of events, assertions that Dubin made him repeat over and over during the deposition. The lawyer asked if it were possible he'd mistaken the details of the night of Thomas' beating with another night. Without hesitation, the bouncer shook his head and replied, "No," according to a videotape of the interview.
"She was standing next to me, and we were both looking at the same vantage point of Kelly Thomas," said Reeves. "And that's why I believe it to have been a false police report."
Dubin pressed again, asking him if he'd change his story—if, in fact, DeMarco never stood beside him that night before calling police and if almost all the other key details didn't happen. The question visibly rocked Reeves. After a pause, he replied, "I don't know how to answer that."
* * *
On the night of Thomas' beating, Slidebar had two surveillance cameras posted in the vicinity of the restaurant's entrance: one behind and above the bouncer's station, and a second one near the roof. Reeves was not aware of the second camera, and according to his testimony, he underestimated the view range of the camera above his station.
Dubin, who worked in cooperation with Slidebar attorney Steven A. Fink during the deposition, handed the bouncer a photographic still from video taken in the minutes surrounding the call to police. The image undermined the crux of Reeves' story: that DeMarco had been standing with him watching Thomas, that they had discussed Thomas' conduct, and that he'd heard her call to the police. He studied the photograph—he is standing alone, with his manager nowhere in sight—and said, "Uh, I was always told our eye, our video, didn't go past the, um, didn't go out into the street."
Popoff's attorney asked Reeves if he would like to change his testimony if confronted with videotape of the events leading up to Thomas' killing. The bouncer didn't say a word. He licked his lips, turned toward his lawyer, Ryan Kroll with Solomon, Saltsman & Jamieson, and asked, "May I speak to my counsel?"
Dubin refused, and Reeves then complained he didn't understand the question.
"I'll represent to you that we have you on videotape during this alleged time that Kelly Thomas walks by and so forth," said Dubin. "Knowing that you're about to see that, is there anything you'd like to change about your sworn testimony given under penalty of perjury today?"
Reeves looked deflated. Long gone was his earlier confidence. With a solemn face, he explained, "If I'm on tape with anybody surrounding me, the traumatic event has caused me to forget."
Before Dubin could pounce, Kroll rescued his client by calling for a break. When the deposition resumed, the bouncer saw footage that eviscerated his version of events in several critical ways, including:
• DeMarco never stood next to him at the podium; the two couldn't have, as he insisted, watched Thomas together for six consecutive minutes before the call to Fullerton P.D.
• Contrary to Reeves' story, he couldn't have known what DeMarco observed about Thomas' activities in the parking lot or that she fabricated anything; while the bouncer was busy looking in the opposite direction from Thomas, dealing with arriving customers and chatting with co-workers, DeMarco is seen emerging not from inside the restaurant, but from the section of the parking lot where Thomas roamed.
• Thomas wasn't pacing back and forth, stopping only for discarded cigarette butts and to watch television, as Reeves claimed, but was rather zigzagging through rows of cars, as DeMarco reported.
• Given the substantial distance between himself and DeMarco when she emerged onscreen, already on her cell phone with police, Reeves couldn't have supplied her the number for dispatch, argued with her to not make the call or protested her action immediately afterward, as he claimed.
When Dubin was done showing him the videos, Reeves declared himself "confused." He then suggested the footage might not be genuine. But the attorney vouched "as an officer of the court" that the time-stamped videos documented the precise minutes leading up to Thomas' beating. He re-asked the bouncer if he wanted to match his story to the visual evidence.