Second Quarter Update—Gang Activity in San Bernardino County

Second Quarter Update—Gang Activity in San Bernardino County

San Bernardino, CA

James Ellis

Last week, San Bernardino County District Attorney Mike Ramos released the county’s official Second Quarter Gang Statistics. 

According to Ramos, for the period April 1 through June 31, the District Attorney’s Office filed 149 gang related cases. It also secured 170 state prison commitments amounting to 1,086 years of state prison time and five life sentences. Also, according to Ramos, 89 of the cases involved gang enhancements that were determined to be true. Seven defendants were found guilty by jurors. 

Also, during the second quarter, Adelanto gang member James Ellis was sentenced to death for the 2009 double murder of 28-year-old Ealy Davis Jr. and 26-year-old Shameka Reliford. 

Last October, a jury found Ellis guilty of two counts of First Degree Murder and one count of Active Participation in a Criminal Street Gang. Jurors also found true the special circumstance allegations of lying in wait, murder during the commission of a robbery, murder while an active participant in a criminal street gang, and multiple murder, which made Ellis eligible for the death penalty. 

On November 23, 2009, Ellis plotted with three other men and a woman to rob Ealy Davis. That day, Forrest Taylor, William Jacobs, Joseph Bowen, and Sandra Smith gathered at Smith's residence in Adelanto and discussed a desire to acquire drugs and money. One suggested robbing a drug dealer. During the planning process, Ellis produced a handgun and showed it to the others. 

Smith then suggested they rob Davis, a drug dealer she knew. Smith knew Davis because he was dating her half-sister, Shameka Reliford. 

According to Supervising Deputy District Attorney Britt Imes, who prosecuted the case, Smith provided Taylor with Davis' cell phone number. Several phone calls were placed to lure Davis to a secluded area near Westside Park Elementary School.

At the agreed-upon meeting place, Ellis approached Davis’ car. Davis was seated in the driver's seat and Shameka Reliford was in the passenger seat. Two other passengers were in the backseat. Ellis asked Davis, "Do you got me?" Davis replied, "Yes." 

This exchange was repeated, then Ellis took a step back, produced a handgun and fired 4 to 5 times into the vehicle. Davis was killed immediately. Reliford was taken to Victor Valley Community Hospital, where she later died. 

While Ellis received the death penalty, others indicted in the case were sentenced as follows: Taylor was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole, Smith was sentenced to 18 years in state prison, Jacobs was sentenced to 13 years, 8 months, and Bowen was sentenced to probation for being an accessory after the fact. 

“Seeking the death penalty is one of the single most difficult decisions I have to make, and it is reserved for the worst of the worst criminals,” Ramos said regarding Ellis’ case. “When we seek the death penalty, it is important to remember that it is not a reflection of our brutality, but rather an expression of our disdain for the defendant’s brutal actions.” 

Ramos also stressed the importance of holding individuals accountable for their criminal actions and making streets safer. “It’s about securing justice for the victims, it’s about protecting our future,” he added. “But with every conviction and every battle we wage comes the responsibility to be just as proactive with our prevention and intervention programs. From the community policing efforts of our local law enforcement partners to gang prevention programs across the county, we are working hard to make San Bernardino County a safer place.” 

Since the Gang Unit was established in 2005, it has filed a total of 11,215 gang related cases.

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