Transient arrested after physical confrontation with Back the Blue demonstrators in Grass Valley |

Transient arrested after physical confrontation with Back the Blue demonstrators in Grass Valley

A homeless man who made headlines after allegations he vandalized the Grass Valley Police Department two weeks ago is back in custody after an altercation with Back the Blue demonstrators, authorities said.

Adam Michael Cockrell, 35, was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of felony vandalism, resisting a peace officer, battery, fighting in a public place and committing a felony while on bail. He remained Thursday afternoon in the Nevada County Jail on a $24,000 bond, jail records state.

A Grass Valley police officer responded just after 7 p.m. to the corner of Sutton Way and Brunswick Road after a caller reported that a man was yelling and confronting Back the Blue participants, Capt. Steve Johnson said. Witnesses pointed out Cockrell, who was recognized by the officer due to the previous vandalism.

The officer saw Cockrell punch a woman and then get taken to the ground by other demonstrators, Johnson said.

Cockrell “was yelling at some kids and flipping them off,” he said. “She was concerned and had gotten between them.”

Cockrell threw a closed-fist punch, hitting the woman in the face, Johnson said. The victim told officers she was “dazed” and sustained cuts to the inside of her mouth. She did not want medical attention, he said.

After Cockrell was handcuffed by the officer, he continued to be extremely violent and resistive, and was then placed in leg restraints. He also threatened hospital staff while he was being medically cleared, Johnson said.

“He was kicking and trying to hurt officers and was kicking the patrol car, even in restraints,” Johnson said. “He dented the door from the inside.”

According to Johnson, Cockrell has never identified himself as being part of the Black Lives Matter movement and was not with the group of Black Lives Matter demonstrators who were across the street.

“About an hour earlier, I had made contact with both sides, I was checking in with them,” Johnson said. “Given the recent event in Nevada City on Sunday, we knew there was a lot of tension. I made contact and emphasized their right to be there. I told them we are fully supportive of their First Amendment rights to express their views, and that we wanted them to be respectful ad not confrontational. They both agreed to that.”

Johnson said he did not know what caused Cockrell’s aggression toward the Back the Blue group on Wednesday, but added, “He has been extremely volatile in past contacts with us.”

Johnson expressed frustration with Cockrell’s pre-trial release in connection with the July 29 vandalism, which he said caused close to $10,000 in damage to the police department. Cockrell had been taken into custody July 31 and was released Aug. 3 through the pre-trial release program, jail records state.

Authorities say Cockrell threw a rock at the police department lobby door, shattering the glass door. He also caused damage to interior equipment and broke a second large window.

“He was deemed moderate risk (by the probation department) and was ruled to be eligible for release without bail,” Johnson said. “In our opinion, he should not be out on the street walking around. … (Wednesday’s) event is exactly what is of concern about this evaluation process. He got out and went and was violent and caused harm to people.”

Cockrell is set to be arraigned for the July 29 vandalism on Aug. 31, court records show.

Contact reporter Liz Kellar at 530-477-4236 or by email at

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