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Filmmaker explores causes, effects of youth violence

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Filmmaker Daniel Bruun, right, made a documentary about Mikey Partida, left, as he recovered from a brutal beating in March 2013 and the subsequent arrest and prosecution of his assailant. Courtesy photo Courtesy photo

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From page A1 | June 19, 2014 |

Daniel Bruun was in junior high when 14-year-old Andrew Mockus of Davis was beaten, robbed of $2 and pushed into a moving train by three local teens — an incident that, at the time, opened the community’s eyes to youth violence taking place in their own back yards.

“I was affected by it, but I felt like the story was never told in a complete way,” with neither the root causes nor the effects of the incident being fully addressed, said Bruun, a filmmaker who graduated from Davis High School in 1997.

Bruun noted that one of the youths involved in Mockus’ 1992 death, Joshua Bettencourt, was granted immunity for testifying against one of the other two boys but would exhibit violence again just three years later, fatally shooting another man during a road-rage incident in Sacramento.

Claiming self-defense, Bettencourt pleaded no contest to voluntary manslaughter and served five years in prison.

So in March of 2013, when 19-year-old Clayton Daniel Garzon was arrested on assault and hate-crime charges for the brutal beating of a gay man, Lawrence “Mikey” Partida, outside an I Street party, Bruun saw a broader story to tell — not just about youth violence, but also its root causes and its impacts on victims, families, the community at large and the perpetrators themselves.

“It seemed like an opportunity to tell a story like that in the best way possible — to be involved in it as the story is unfolding,” said Bruun, 35.

The result is “Davisville 2013,” a 30- to 45-minute documentary for which Bruun kicked off a monthlong fundraising campaign today on Indiegogo, a San Francisco-based fundraising website. He’s hoping to raise $10,000 for a public screening of the film, which is still being developed.

For more information about the film and fundraising effort, visit igg.me/at/davisville2013.

“I think it’s really interesting that he’s taking the time to do the documentary,” said Partida, 33, who was interviewed for the project along with other members of his family. “He’s really thinking outside the box and seems very passionate about it.”

Bruun estimates filming more than 50 hours’ worth of footage for the documentary to date. He attended each of Garzon’s hearings in Yolo Superior Court over a yearlong period and conducted interviews with numerous witnesses to the March 10, 2013, beating.

Neither Garzon nor his family has responded to interview requests so far, but Garzon’s defense attorney, Linda Parisi, has been cooperative, Bruun said.

Garzon, now 21, is serving a seven-year split sentence for the crime — a five-year county jail term followed by two years and four months of probation — after pleading no contest to assault, battery and hate-crime charges.

Bruun also managed to track down and interview the victims of a Sept. 9, 2012, stabbing incident in Dixon for which Garzon had an assault charge pending at the time of his arrest in Davis.

“There’s a lot more there than what was reported,” Bruun said of the Dixon crime. The film also will explore whether steps could have been taken to prevent the Davis beating, which left Partida hospitalized for two weeks with injuries including a fractured skull and bleeding to his brain.

It was through mutual friends that Bruun contacted the Partida family, which at first was skeptical about the proposed project.

“We didn’t know him, so we were a little cautious,” said Gloria Partida, Mikey’s mother. But the more she thought about it, “I felt that he was right, that we needed to tell these stories and have a broader conversation.”

The cooperation has gone both ways, with Bruun speaking at a bullying awareness workshop recently held by the Davis Phoenix Coalition, a local group formed in the wake of Partida’s assault to promote tolerance and raise awareness of social justice issues.

As for the community reaction to Bruun’s documentary, “I think some people won’t get it, and some people will think very strongly about it,” Mikey Partida said. For those whose lives have been touched by violence, “I’m sure it will affect them, and hopefully others too.”

— Reach Lauren Keene at lkeene@davisenterprise.net or 530-747-8048. Follow her on Twitter at @laurenkeene

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