Baljit Singh Athwal, a co-owner of Pop-N-Cork Liquors and an alleged person of interest in the Korey Kauffman murder case, protested with family and friends Saturday outside of the Turlock Public Safety Facility at the corner of W. Olive and N. Broadway avenues.
Touting signs reading “We want justice” and “We want FBI,” Athwal explained that the protest was made in an effort to clear his name in the Kauffman case and “seek justice.”
Family there supporting Baljit and his brother Daljit, also an alleged person of interest in the case, explained their frustrations with the way police have handled the situation.
“We just want [the Turlock Police Department] to know that we don’t care about the investigation, but the way that they do it,” said IQ Randawa, the sister of Baljit and Daljit Athwal. “The police misconduct was ridiculous. I mean, he was offering the keys to everything – why were they breaking the doors down?”
The breaking of doors to which Randawa refers was allegedly committed during a search of both of the Anthwal brothers’ households as well as of their two Pop-N-Cork store locations. According to Baljit Athwal, police forcibly entered his and his brother’s homes without notice. Each of the families were startled, and were upset that their children were there to witness the investigation.
Baljit Athwal stated his son was noticeably upset the next day, and sought help from the school’s counseling staff.
“My son had to go to the counselor,” said Baljit Athwal. “They found him sitting by himself on the side crying because all the kids were asking him, ‘What happened? What happened?’”
The Athwal brothers’ cousin, Harvey Singh, described to a questioning passerby that they were standing out in a protest of false arrest.
“It’s false arrest, just because he did a favor for a guy that was working for him,” Singh said. “They got nothin’ to do with it.”
Robert Lee Woody was arrested and charged with the murder of Kauffman and conspiracy to obstruct justice, according to court documents. In previous interviews with TurlockCityNews.com, Baljit explained that, from time to time, he and his brother would hire Woody for odd jobs related to their Pop-N-Cork stores.
Singh believes that the correlation should not have merited the arrest of his cousin.
Baljit Athwal stated that he and his family called Turlock Police Department Friday night to make them aware of their protest, “to get to the bottom of this case and know why they are doing it.” The Athwal brothers are still confused as to why they are involved in the case, but after calls to the department they still have not received details as to their involvement in the investigation.
“We called them last night, and before when we called them, no response,” Baljit Athwal explained.
Lt. Ron Reid, the watch commander on duty at the Turlock Police Department on Saturday, stated that they were aware of the protest but that there had been no interaction between the two parties.
“They actually spoke with us last night and said they were going to do it so we just said, ‘Well don’t get hurt, don’t step out in traffic or anything and don’t block the sidewalks or anything and let people by’ and there was no problem at all… so we just let them be,” Reid said
Reid also stated that no calls from the public were made questioning the protest. Several cars honked their horns and cheered at the group of about 15 protesters, but no aggressive actions were made.