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

Monday, June 27, 2005

CPRC, inc.

Ground Zero, was the memorandum produced on the Volne Stokes shooting that occurred on May 23, 2003 and has yet to reach its conclusion, thanks to lack of cooperation by various factions of the Riverside Police Department.

First Tina Banfill Gould, who shot and killed Stokes, failed to fulfill her duty as a police officer by providing an account to the Officer-Involved Shooting Team without exercising her Fifth Amendment rights.

The Officer Involved Shooting Team investigators failed to perform their duty as investigators when they failed to receive a voluntary statement from all the witnesses or participants in the Stokes shooting, most notably Banfill Gould.

The Internal Affairs Division failed to perform its duties as an investigative division when it violated departmental policy 4.8 by:

Failing to do an independent investigation of the Stokes Shooting.

Failing to wait to get a statement from a witness(Banfill Gould) until after the Officer Involved Shooting Team had received its statement.

Last week, the CPRC tossed in its two cents in terms of committing obstruction of its own regarding a public report, when during discussion of an item placed on the agenda by Commissioner James Ward, it came to light that Chair Michael Gardner and Interim Executive Director Pedro Payne had met with Chief Russ Leach and presented him with a (not so) final draft of the Stokes memo.

Actually, it was a copy of the memo that both Ward and Commissioner Brian Pearcy had drafted, which included fairly strong language criticizing the department's actions from Banfill Gould, to both investigative divisions.

Then it fell in the hands of Gardner and Payne who stripped it of both words, and meaning, returning a watered-down version to the commission. At some point, as of yet undetermined, Payne and Gardner had conducted a "special" meeting with Leach to "give him a head's up" that the department was about to be criticized. Leach told the two men that the document had better be absolutely accurate. One can imagine what the expressions on the faces of both men would have been, upon hearing those words. Leach thumbed through a document both men were surprised he would even want to read, and found an error which had actually been raised and ignored in discussions at earlier meetings. Ignored perhaps because it was a member of the public who raised it, and not a commissioner.

If this chain of curious events sounds confusing, well, the truth of what really happened is still quite fuzzy. The stories vary, depending on who tells them.

Whether Leach perused the "weaker" version or whether the "weaker" version authored by Payne and Gardner had arisen from Leach's criticism is still unclear as well, though given the timing of that special meeting, the latter scenerio is likely. At any rate, during its last contentious meeting, the CPRC restored some of the stronger text into the memo, even though several commissioners strongly dissented with the stronger text saying that they had "beat up the department enough".

Ward raised two objections at the meeting on June 22. He objected to Gardner meeting with the chief without getting a consensus or majority vote from the commission. He also had an issue with Gardner and Payne making substantive changes to the memo without the consensus of the CPRC. His concerns were valid, but pooh-poohed by most of the other commissioners present, including Pearcy, who said that he commended Gardner for taking both actions. Commissioner Les Davidson who's been a no-show since he castigated me for being too critical of the Riverside Police Department did not offer his two-cents in person. Not too curious, considering his history as an LAPD officer, and his political connections with two city councilmen who oppose civilian oversight: Frank Schiavone and Art Gage. Davidson is not alone in having political connections to City Hall. Gardner enjoys several, as well.

Gardner: ran for a council seat and announced publically that after filing in August 2003, he solicited an endorsement and funding from the RPOA, even while currently serving as a commissioner. The RPOA had its own reasons for stringing Gardner along for awhile, and just because Gardner was seen slapping the back of an RPOA board member at a city council meeting in August 2003, doesn't an endorsement make. That contact would not have been so noteworthy had Gardner and the CPRC not voted to clear that same officer of a discourtesy allegation less than two weeks earlier. I was so surprised at the sight, I left my keys at the security machine, instead of retrieving them. I have learned much since.

Why would any commissioner run for office and seek an endorsement from an organized union trying to dismantle the CPRC?

Davidson: has political ties to Frank Schiavone(CPRC hater) through serving on his campaign fundraising committee(see invitation for Schiavone fundraiser, Oct. 27, 2004) and even after Gage(another CPRC hater)proposed cutting the funding of the commission by up to 95 % last year, Davidson dropped $200 into his campaign coffer on Sept. 15, 2004, only three months later.

Why would any commissioner donate money to a council member who made it no secret how much he despises the CPRC?

Only Bob Garcia agreed with Ward's concerns, the racial divide on the commission emerging once again, under stress. The issue, despite its seriousness and its ethical implications(made timely with the creation and soon-to-be adoption of an ethics code)did not get the public hearing it deserved.

Other questions awaiting answers:

What role did the legal settlement between the city and the RPOA have in the issuance and content of the CPRC's memo on the Stokes shooting and investigation?

What role did several political fundraisers held by certain political candidates which preceded the shifting of the tides in the creation of the Stokes' memo, have on several commissioners with known political ties to those candidates?

Hopefully the answers to these questions will be, none at all if they are ever answered at all.


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