Five before Midnight

This site is dedicated to the continuous oversight of the Riverside(CA)Police Department, which was formerly overseen by the state attorney general. This blog will hopefully play that role being free of City Hall's micromanagement.
"The horror of that moment," the King went on, "I shall never, never forget." "You will though," the Queen said, "if you don't make a memorandum of it." --Lewis Carroll


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Location: RiverCity, Inland Empire

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Why is Detective Miera under investigation?

An interesting case from the Riverside County Superior Court criminal case files....

Dione Mckinnon, a long time member of the 1200 bloc gangster Crips, according to police detectives, was sitting in a car close to five to eight Black male juveniles. Police officer Joshua Ontko was driving with his field training officer Michael Stamps, on June 26, 2004, when they received a complaint from a woman in the Eastside who said that she saws the teenagers loitering near a motel, and that she believed a drugs transaction was taking place. Although still a probational officer, Ontko was finishing up his final rotation in the training program, and Stamps was dressed in plainclothes as he evaluated Ontko's job performance.

They pulled up at the motel and got out of the vehicle to deal with the five young men loitering, allegedly up to no good. Their attention did not stay on the young men long, because Stamps recognized McKinnon who was sitting in his vehicle, apart from the other men. The two officers ordered him out of the vehicle, he left and began to return to it, when they ordered him out again. Ontko then grabbed him with assistance from Stamps and they assisted him(job venicular for using force to put someone in the position of complying) in sitting down on the curb. Of course, in the preliminary hearing after Mckinnon was charged with various offenses, Ontko testified that Mckinnon resisted and he had to push him down on the curb, but what's two different versions of the same event from one officer anyway? Business as usual, because recollections change and events change, and Ontko is the student here. Whether another reality will exist for new officers in the future, still is uncertain.

They released Mckinnon, and went on their ways. It's unclear from police reports exactly what became of the five loitering juveniles who had been the initial focus of the call to police.

Two days later, Ontko visited Mckinnon at his home to see how he was doing. Ontko admits doing so, but can not recall the address he visited, nor can he recall under cross-examination at the preliminary hearing, whether he had also asked if Mckinnon was okay, or shook his hand. The response, "I can not or do not recall" has to be taken with a grain of salt, because it is the stock answer law enforcement officers give on the stand when they don't want to tell the truth, or, when an officer says these words, they might really not remember but the blurring of failure to remember and failure to tell the truth has made it difficult to know which is which at this point. Hopefully, the truth is what prevails on the stand.

Fast forward to July 14, no wait, July 13 when Sgt. Frank Assuma, who heads the gang unit, and Mark Rossi, another officer, said they were were shooting the breeze with Mckinnon who was bragging to them about all the people he could have killed and did not. Assuma claimed he had issued a citation to appear in court. To this day, this citation has never been filed in court, nor has it surfaced in any court papers at all. Mckinnon's attorney alleged that it was never written at all. It turned up, but isn't making threats against an officer of violence, PC 71, and thus an arrestable offense?

The next day, Det. Joe Miera, a gang unit member, was scoping out some Black men, allegedly gang members including Mckinnon at Bobby Bonds Park. Not wanting to face all of them while he apprehended Mckinnon, he chose to follow Mckinnon to Thrifty's at Townsquare and arrest him there. When Miera searched a secret compartment in Mckinnon's car, he allegedly discovered an ounce of rock cocaine and a handgun. Mckinnon is arrested and charged with crimes in relation to the search as well as the incident with Ontko and Stamps in June.

Six months later, something unexpectantly happens, according to a Pitchess motion filed on Mckinnon's behalf by the Public Defender's office.

Mckinnon, while in jail, tells his attorney that the lieutenant from Internal Affairs has come to talk to him because the division is conducting an internal investigation of Miera. Mckinnon's lawyer calls I.A. to check this out and Sgt. Vic "Women are my punching bag" Williams, who is a member of the "cops in cuffs" brigade, confirms that the investigation is being done.Why a man with domestic violence in his background would be working I.A. is a whole issue in itself. Williams said to the attorney that a Pitchess motion would be needed to uncover any details of the investigation of Miera's conduct. Otherwise, anyone who comes in contact with Miera must remain in the dark about the ongoing investigation and any potential misconduct which has now apparently been the focus of some inhouse attention.

Most likely, any investigation has been completed.
What were the results?
Were any allegations sustained?
Was there any criminal conduct involved?
What was Miera's fate?

More questions generated by a department that can not or will not provide any answers.


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