Judge holds Back the Blue punching suspect on felony assault charge | TheUnion.com

Judge holds Back the Blue punching suspect on felony assault charge

A Nevada County judge found enough evidence during a Tuesday hearing to hold a homeless man on charges in three separate cases involving anti-law enforcement vandalism and the assault of a Back the Blue demonstrator in Grass Valley.

Adam Michael Cockrell, 35, has been in custody since August, jail records state.

In the first incident, Cockrell was arrested on July 31 after authorities said he threw a rock at the Grass Valley police department lobby door, shattering the glass. He also caused damage to interior equipment and broke a second large window, police said.

During a hearing into the evidence in Nevada County Superior Court, Officer Brian Hooper testified he was on patrol July 30 and discovered the damage, along with a rock nearly the size of a softball believed to have been used in the vandalism.

Cockrell several days prior had made a complaint against the police department, alleging that officers had vandalized his campsite, Sgt. Brian Blakemore said. Blakemore testified he was able to link Cockrell to the incident through surveillance video footage.

Capt. Steve Johnson testified the bill for the repair of the damage was more than $10,500.

Deputy Public Defender Hayley Dewey asked Judge Linda Sloven to reduce the felony vandalism charge to a misdemeanor, a move opposed by Deputy District Attorney Cambria Lisonbee.

“This was an attack on community property,” Lisonbee said. “This was not just graffiti on the sidewalk, this was not misdemeanor conduct.”

Sloven agreed with Lisonbee, holding Cockrell on the felony charge.

In the second incident, Cockrell was arrested on Aug. 12 and charged with felony vandalism, resisting a peace officer and battery after an altercation at a Back the Blue rally on Sutton Way and Brunswick Drive.

Jennifer Malmstead testified that she was standing on the street, holding a flag pole, when Cockrell hit her in the jaw.

“I was not expecting anything to happen,” she said. “The next thing I knew, I was punched.”

Malmstead said Cockrell had exchanged words with the man standing next to her, but denied making a statement that she was hit by accident.

Cockrell, she said, “was intending to hit anybody he was enraged with.”

Grass Valley Police Officer Jesse Cloyd testified that he saw Cockrell throw a punch and that he took him into custody after bystanders restrained him.

Cloyd said Cockrell became uncooperative after he handcuffed him and placed him inside his patrol vehicle, yelling and banging his head and knees against the door. Cockrell was placed in a “wrap restraint” and moved to a different vehicle, which he damaged through kicks, Cloyd said.

At the jail, Cockrell continued to be uncooperative, and threatened to “head butt” and kick Cloyd, the officer testified. A video that was played in court did not show the threats, but Cockrell could be heard repeatedly cursing at personnel and using racial epithets.

Sloven found enough evidence to hold Cockrell on charges of felony vandalism and resisting arrest, as well on an amended charge of felony assault using force that is likely to produce great bodily injury.

That felony assault charge makes Cockrell eligible for a state prison sentence, Lisonbee said in an email.

The judge also found enough evidence to hold Cockrell to answer on a felony vandalism charge in connection with a Sept, 4 incident, in which he broke a lock and broke the glass on a door in the jail, Lisonbee said.

Cockrell is set to return to court Jan. 29 for formal arraignment on all three cases.

Contact reporter Liz Kellar at 530-477-4236 or by email at lizk@theunion.com.

Adam Cockrell

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