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

Contact: fivebeforemidnight@yahoo.com

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Location: RiverCity, Inland Empire

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

The wrong kind of crime victim, in the wrong place

Meet Officer Paul Stucker, who works for the Riverside Police Department.

Tall, muscular, bald and White, he could be one of many officers working in the Riverside Police Department. But Stucker was the officer dispatched to respond to an assault and battery on Sept. 5, 2005 at 2pm, near the intersection of Market and University Avenue.

A young man had just purchased a computer printer and was biking down University Avenue, with purchase in hand, when his path crossed that of his assailant. The assailant decided he wanted the computer printer, so he jumped this young man, knocked him off his bicycle then began kicking and stomping on him as he lay defenseless in the congested street. Eight shocked motorists jumped out of their cars and intervened in this situation. Three men pulled the assailant off of the victim, while others there tended to his bloody injuries to his face. Two women called 911 on their cellphones. Those calls were routed to the CHP in San Bernardino which added to the delayed response by the Fire Department, American Medical Response Ambulance service and the police department.

Twenty minutes later, the fire and medical vehicles arrived, and those driving them promptly saw to the victim's injuries. One of them, rolled the assailant who was under guard by three male civilians over on his stomach, sat on him and pulled items out of his pocket including a switchblade.

Enter, Officer Paul Stucker, who turned onto University from Market and did a u-turn so he could park on the side where the incident occurred. As Stucker exited his car, he asked the eight good samaritans, "Who saw it happen?" Nine hand went up. Initially, Stucker's name tag was not visible, and when his name was asked, he looked down, then smoothed his shirt and it appeared from behind a crease. Stucker walked to the ambulance, talked to the victim for a couple minutes, then walked back to the samaritans. All the samaritans asked him if they could give their statements, when, if they could get a card from Stucker, or contact information. All emphasized how terrible it was to see a man get brutally assaulted in the street in front of them. Stucker begged off, telling them he had all the information he needed. Earlier, he had put the assailant in handcuffs saying this doesn't mean you are under arrest and placed him in the back seat of the squad car. A short woman had arrived driving a white vehicle with traffic accident investigations written on it. Stucker told her to watch his car while he talked to the man in the ambulance. Then Stucker left, about five minutes after he arrived.

Well, the situation did not end there. The victim's name was Ken Michael Dunn, and his parents are members of the Riverside Coalition of Police Accountability. He suffers from diabetes, notice of which is tattooed on his arm for emergency purposes. He also wears one shoe that is three inches higher than the other to correct a leg length difference.

His case number is: P3-05-248-143

The police report written by Stucker is sparse, with only S1/Cohen hit V/1 Dunn. The suspect by the way is Ernest David Cohen, a short burly White man with a long criminal history in Riverside County which includes three felony convictions, two associated with auto theft and a third with methamphetamine possession earlier this year. Currently, he is serving formal felony probation. But, three days before his arrest, his probation officer Renel Gaines issued a memo alleging that Cohen had violated his probation by failure to show up to a rehab center and undergo mandated drug treatment and failure to report to his probational officer. Despite at least 10 allegations of probation violations filed against Cohen in an assortment of criminal cases stemming back to 2001, Gaines stated in his memo that Cohen simply needed more intensive treatment.

Security Guard Ardell Wallace knows about Cohen and had come upon the incident involving Cohen's assault on Dunn after the fact. He said that Cohen had tried to rob others in the downtown neighborhood, but that the police have not done much about him. He believed that Cohen had jumped Dunn to take his new computer printer.

That would lead one to think that the following felony crime might have taken place:

PC 211. Robbery is the felonious taking of personal property in the
possession of another, from his person or immediate presence, and
against his will, accomplished by means of force or fear.



Did Officer Stucker take Cohen to jail to be booked for attempted felony strong-arm robbery and violation of probation(commission of a crime, possession of a weapon, switchblade knife)?

No, Stucker drove Cohen to some undisclosed location, cited him with a ticket then released him. Then the next day, Sept. 6, Stucker wrote his report, for a PC 242 misdemeanor battery.

And there the fiction writing began...

"Was there a witness to the crime?" NO

NO??????

This revelation would be news to the nine people who witnessed the incident and intervened in the apprehension of the assailant and the treatment of the victim. This deliberate attempt to falsify information by Stucker is a slap on the face to those who not only saw this incident occur, but intervened rather than looked the other way.

Weapons Seized? NO

NO????? Well, okay, after all, Stucker was not even onscene when the EMT pulled the switchblade out of Cohen's pocket as he searched him.

Weapons? Hands

The victim was kicked numerous times and stomped on the chest and head.

As to whether Stucker realized that Cohen was on probation, He checked that box.

Motive: Unknown

Apparently the fact that Dunn was in possession of his newly purchased computer printer at the time never switched a light bulb off in Stucker's head that the assault might have been an attempt to forcibly steal that computer. If Stucker had bothered to interview witnesses, he might have had that bulb switched on for him.

No charges have been filed in this case. The investigations division has no record of it ever happening, nor has this unit assigned this case to any detective, let alone one in robbery or crimes against persons. At last notice, is that this case was sent to the impound division, even though no motor vehicle was involved. Why a criminal case would be sent there inside a "model" LE agency is a question that so far remains unanswered. Perhaps the Impound Division doubles as a "slush pile" for crimes involving victims who in the scheme of things don't really matter.

Victims who are poor, non-white and in this case disabled, will have their cases sent to this slush pile rather than the Investigations unit which serves mainly to build up cases to prosecute poor and homeless people, not look for those who assault them, kill them or rob them.

And so ends the story of the officer who celebrated Labor Day by refusing to do the job he took an oath to do, and the addition of yet another crime to the RPD's new slush pile.

8 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

When did you go to the academy and learn to investigate crimes. Were you one of the witnesses?? If you were not personally there then why are you commenting about hearsay??? If people lie to the police, why would they not lie to you, for publicity? They know it would be twisted up to become an interesting article aginst the Riverside Police Department. Its unfortunate that someone would author that article and not have first hand information. If you were there I apoligize. If you were not, then you need to find another hobby rather than getting second to third hand info, after the occurrence, and publishing this type of hearsay. Maybe if you put this much energy into slandering our Riverside Police Department, you can go to the Police Academy and do the job that you think you know so much about. Why don't you attempt to walk in the shoes of a Riverside Officer for one day??? Oh,im a minority male that resides in Riverside, and its people like you that cause this city to be crime infested. The police hear your "monday night quarterbacking" and get sick of it, Therefore they think the safest place for them to be is hanging out at 7-11, instead of stopping the criminals walking our streets, because if the person they stop is a minority they will be posted on your website, or in the newspaper. No race is excluded from commiting crimes. I really hope that you drop this race card soon, because this is not the 50's, 60's, or 70's, and it is getting old. I could complain everyday that I am discriminated against. I have been refused service at Denny's restaurant before, because of my dark skin. Did I run a newspaper article, no. This is getting out of control!!! I hope you know what you are doing, and hope you are happy, when Riverside Police Department is so afraid to receive complaints for driving 2 miles over the speed limit while responding to 9-1-1 calls, that if you call, you will later complain that they took to long to arrive...when will you be happy?? will you ever be satisfied?? does every officer have to be black for you to be happy?? after that,you would not have anything to complain about, or will it then turn into, that the black officers grew up in white neighborhoods?? when does it stop...good luck with your fight..

Monday, October 10, 2005 5:03:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, Mary! Where to begin??? Your misinformation and spin would be funny if there weren't people out there who really take you seriously.

Lets begin:

The Public Information Act gives citizens the right to police reports such as this one. Anyone has access to it, even me. You should have used your super-sleuth abilities to figure out the little box at the bottom of the report indicating there were two pages to Officer Stucker's report. Lots can be learned if you read the whole report...

Your set-up of the events tell-tales your purpose. Mr. Dunn is not such a "young man," being 40 years old. Bad facts abound.

It is amazing to me that you were able to get into the suspect's mind to determine his intent. You said he "wanted the computer printer" Mr. Dunn carried, a robbery by your definition. Sorry, but there was no information whatsoever to indicate the suspect tried to take Mr. Dunn's property. The report indicates Mr. Dunn did a citizen's arrest on Mr. Cohen for the crime 242 P.C. - Battery. This was the highest crime that the victim alleged. Hmmmmm.

Mary, while it is obvious you make your judgments based on speculation, conjecture, rumor and irrational thought, the police can't arrest and incarcerate people based on the same. It seems Officer Stucker made every effort to be fair and unbiased (look it up - those are good traits.) By your own account, he even explained to the eventual suspect that his detention was not an arrest at the preliminary stages of his investigation.

A "sparse" report huh? Read the rest of it!

Then there's the race card. Why is it that you are always the first, middle and last person to bring up people's race? FYI: white officer, white victim and white suspect = not an issue. Get over it!

Your security guard friend knows about Cohen? How is that? I guess if the guard believes Cohen "jumped" Dunn for the printer that makes it fact huh? Why didn't the security guard arrest him then? Cuz it didn't happen...

Since you are going to convict Cohen for a crime based on his criminal history, lets look at Dunn's background too. Let's see - a conviction for 415(2) P.C. - Disturbing the Peace. Hmmm. And another for vehicle code violations. Not a rapist, sure, but no angel either.

Switchblade in his pocket? Since when did EMT's start searching people? Had an emergency medical responder brought a felony to the attention of the officer, he would have surely made an arrest. Again, battery was the highest crime that occurred.

Victim kicked numerous times and stomped on the head and chest? Have you ever seen someone that has been kicked in the face or head? He wouldn't be giving any statement at all if he were stomped on his head.

"Victims who are poor, non-white, blah blah blah." Save it for someone who buys your bologna! The victim was white, how does the officer know if he's poor, and his disability was a factor, why? It isn't. You claim RPD builds up cases against poor and homeless. Guess what - the suspect in this case was white, poor and homeless. Read the F'n report!!!

The slush pile is in the void between your ears. Get a life. RPD does the best with the limited resources the city allows it. The honorable men and women in blue deserve our respect, support and admiration for being willing to put their lives on the line for a population that rarely appreciates the risks involved. You need to put up or shut up. Why don't you do something to better the city rather than just criticize those that are making a difference?

Monday, October 10, 2005 7:49:00 PM  
Blogger Five Before Midnight said...

Actually, I was there. I saw it. And I saw the EMT empty Cohen's pockets, and the officer ask for witness accounts, and nine hands go up.

Of course, the box asking about witnesses to the crime was checked, NO. That is not true, and the officer knows this. If you want to defend that, you are entitled. I can think of a better use of energy however.

As for reports, for civilians, not officers like A#2, anyone who went in person or submitted in writing a request for a report would know that if the investigation is open and charges have not been filed(and they have not), then the department will only provide you with the first page, in what was in this case a 2-page report. Vicki, floor supervisor of civilian employees in the Orange Street Office explained this to me on two occasions.


Of course if you are a department employee like A#2, you can get a police report in a matter of minutes, unedited. And decide to search back to find if there's something you can blame the crime victim for in your need to exonerate the officer's failure to note witnesses on a police report on the front page of the report. That's as second nature to some as it appears to be in A#2's comment.

Investigative reports are of course, confidential unless you are the defendant in a filed case and you receive it as part of your discovery.

PC415, wow, if you think that's a grave offense, well, there's an officer with a conviction of that offense in your midst. Better rethink that, or make him an exception to the rule.

Legally, under state law, you are entitled to a police report, minus any identifying information on witnesses. That is not what the RPD provides in most cases, or if they do, they place a blank paper on narratives before xeroxing those pages.

The EMT turned Cohen over on his back, sat or crouched on him, and emptied his pockets of many items. He pulled out something that appeared to be a switchblade, then asked him if there was anything else he needed to know about before searching further. All items were placed in a bag. What happened with that bag, is not known. I was unaware that EMTs search suspects, as I've never seen or heard of it before. But in most cases, the police arrive before the EMTs do. But this guy did it, several minutes before the officer arrived.

I never heard an officer tell a civilian employee(from accident investigations)to stand by his car to watch a suspect while he went to talk to Dunn in the ambulance either.

While the pity party towards Cohen and the blaming the victimis something I've just been accused of doing, it is very interesting to see that those who point fingers are not above doing it themselves. It would be nice if that behavior was applied to defend officers who do their jobs professionally every day, who believe every crime and every crime victim matters, but somehow that is not what ever actually happens. It's the officers whose actions are in this case, apathetic and questionable and in other cases, potentially misconduct or criminal, where the troops rush in to defend that officer's actions. As certain as death and taxes.

Maybe that's one reason our city's paid out $20 million on the department in the past five years and why the federal, state and county agencies found severe problems inside the department in their investigations. The $20 million was definitely well spent, I might add.


To A#1:

It would be nice if the department's proportion of Black officers would be larger than 7%, which is much, much less than 100% of it work force. Surely, there is enough room in between those figures to hire more qualified Black officers. Relax, they are hardly taking over. In fact, one of them is fighting a discrimination case in civil court right now. Maybe he wanted to make something of it.

btw, if you're interested in the numbers, you can get a copy of the EEO report from Sherry Gall at Riverside Human Resources.

Thanks, for the comments btw. I've been thinking of taking this blog public. Why should the RPD be the only people who read it after all? Kind of like when your kid brother takes your journal and reads it on the school yard.

And to A#1, I'm sorry about the Dennys experience. In this day and age, it should not happen, but it does.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005 3:15:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A question for you, Mary. Since you are such an outspoken critic of all things RPD - when was the last time you went on a ride-along with one of their fine officers? You could really get an accurate perspective of what they do and who they are by being there on the front line, even for one day.

I know that another one of the department's self-proclaimed overseers, Chani Beeman, took it upon herself to do a ride-along and appreciated the experience. It is eye-opening to sit in the seat and watch the officers at work. I'm sure the officer that had the guts to take Ms. Beeman out for a shift would be willing to let you accompany him. Check it out. And get with Ms. Beeman to see what she thought. I have noticed a subdued level of criticism since she went...

As for A#2's comments and your response: everybody knows now why you are not a real reporter, rather publish in the Black Voice. You criticize (libel) Officer Stucker and his report, then concede you only have a portion of his report?!? How could you dare say he wrote a sparse report if you recognize you are not reading the whole thing? What everyone knows is that you have no interest in the truth of the incident or what really happened - you just run with the agenda you already have.

The truth is, you have access to the report because the victim was your friend's son. You took a personal interest in this case and published a harsh criticism of an officer that was doing his job on one of probably 15 calls that holiday. Short handed and over-worked. You knew others would not be able to pull the full report to discount the nonsense you wrote. Thankfully someone with better info than you corrected that.

You seem to be misguided about "witnesses" and "bystanders." Officer regularly arrive at a traffic collision scene and ask for witnesses. 4 or 5 hands will go up and everyone tells the same story: "I heard the crash and looked over to see the drivers getting out." THAT'S NOT A WITNESS! A witness would be the one that saw both vehicles prior to the collision and could accurately tell the officer the chain of events. I'm sure that is what happened here...

8 or 9 people wanting to tell an officer how "brutal" an attack was doesn't help the case. If someone could detail how the altercation started, that MIGHT help. If the officer check the "no witnesses" box, it was likely because there wasn't anyone with that kind of information. That there was a fight doesn't sound like it was in dispute so someone saying, "I saw the suspect punch the victim" gets nowhere.

Like I said... go on a ride-along. Then talk trash.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005 5:19:00 PM  
Blogger Five Before Midnight said...

The first page of the report, asked whether or not he has seen a witness, and he checked no. That is not true. Underneath the description of the events, there was no notation of a supplemental narrative. He did not submit a recording, but then being a dispatched call, he was not required to do so.

If there were witnesses, then they would be entered into the second page, with their contact information, which of course would be blacked out.

If you have an issue with partial reports, take it up with the department. I sure have! I should have gotten the entire thing with only personal contact info for civilian witnesses blacked out.

I was there. You were not. You have taken sides already without the benefit of having witnessed a thing. You rush up to defend the officer without reading any report or witnessing the incident. So you are not in any position to judge fairness here. But then you shake your head before anyone can get any criticism out. The sad thing is that for all your good intentions(and I'm sure you mean well), you are really not helping him.

I'm well aware Officer Stucker knew there were witnesses there but he never asked them what they knew or had seen, so he had no basis of determination as to whether they had seen the beginning(which they did, it's hard to miss something blocking your car on a busy thoroughfare)or not. That's why it is important to talk to any witnesses to determine what they saw, in order to base your decision on what's relevant and what is not. He asked, as he should and he was very polite, but he was there a few minutes then left. His notation on the report of no witnesses, simply is not true.

As for your assumption that the witnesses would tell him how badly the beating is, well that's important information to pass on to an officer responding to that call. That's called a witness's recollection of a crime. If they were called by the DA to testify, among the questions they would be asked, is what happened, in detail, from beginning of their eyewitness account to the end. Of course now, they can't be asked to testify, because no one knows how to contact them.

I'm surprised with all your ridealongs, you don't know that. I do. And I don't need a ride along to know that you have good officer, bad officers, apathetic officers and then those with so little respect for themselves and their department that they come here under the department's name, if not their own, and act like they are at day care.

But since one officer mentioned the victim's prior 415 conviction, that action by itself told me what I need to know about why something like this happened in the first place. The victim is the criminal, and it's the criminal who is the poor victim. Hmmm...and I'm accused of this, how often?

He could have also mentioned Cohen's four felony convictions including one for "disregard of safety", "taking a vehicle without an owners' consent", and misdemeanors related to violating a civil restraining order as well as disturbing the peace. A#2 could have easily found that on his or her work computer, nearly as quickly as he or she found the investigative report, which is confidential.

As for a ride along, I asked as I would be willing to do one. However, not because I am not unaware that there are "ugly" and "difficult" people out there, because I know that already from experience. How many weapons have you had pulled on you, just for walking through your apartment complex, walking down the street?

Not because I don't know how dangerous law enforcement is, having had a friend in junior high who lost her father in the line of duty and saw how it impacted her life. But because I have questions I would really like to ask them one-on-one. It seems they don't want people like me to do them. In fact, another critic had to get the blessing of Chief Russ Leach to do one with Officer Dave Martin which if they are so forthcoming, shouldn't be necessary.

But then I'm not on the chief's advisory board like yourself and Chani, and to be on that board, you are required or urged to do one at least once yearly ride along as you should know, being on that board yourself. Chani would do one anyway, whether she was required or not, because she's concerned.

As for what I could learn, well, for five years living with a lot of crime where I lived, and affecting me personally, has taught me a lot, and my perception of LE underwent its most change during that period. Long before Dec. 29, 1998.

What I could ask if I was working from your perspective, is a police officer to move into one of the houses in the same neighborhood which I would ride through on the ride along without weapons, without backup. For a weekend. A months. Longer. But unfortunately, there is no program like that currently in place. Want to start one?

Someone in HRC suggested a dinner program, and I thought that was actually a good idea.

Take care, and thank you for at least acting like an adult.

Thursday, October 13, 2005 10:49:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

U really came up with some silly excuses not to go on a ride-along. Because somebody else had a difficult time arranging a ride-along, you can't? Bogus...

You want to ask officers questions one on one. Go for it. All officers are very articulate. They spend their entire shifts educating people about laws, options, consequences, and programs available to them. I think someone can put together enough grunts and consonants to answer your questions. But you won't do it...

Everybody thinks they know what it is like. They have watched COPS, so they're experts like you. You don't know how dangerous it is, or you wouldn't make some of the comments you did here. Go on a ride-along and educate yourself...

Yes, there are ugly and difficult people out there. So many that think like you. I'm sure you won't believe this but many officers have dealt with the same issues you seem to think give you a unique perspective. Shots fired in your apartment complex? Check. Happened to me! Friend's family member killed in line of duty? Check. I know lots of 'em. Weapons pulled on me walking down the street? Check. I have personally been robbed at knifepoint.

You seem to think you're living in a world that officers don't understand. Hello! Officers deal with those elements every single day they put on that uniform. The eye opener for you would be to see how many thugs out there don't care that officers carry weapons. They know that most cops are more concerned with the legal repercussions and career consequences of using force on someone than they are about getting hurt. Weird, huh? You won't be able to fathom that, unless you get out there and see it.

I repeat - go see what it is really like, then talk your trash...

Sunday, October 16, 2005 9:08:00 PM  
Blogger RivLocal said...

All I see is a poor attempt of slamming one of our finest. How many of us call 911 at the first onsight of an emergency? All of us, then we want to complain and critize them on how they are doing their job.
In my opionion the officer did an excellent job of handeling the call. It is obvious that a crime did occur, and it was P.C. 242. There is a contraversy about the Alleged (key word there) P.C. 211 Robbery, which did not occur, therefore Officer Stucker's charge against the suspect was correct. There was no evidence of any attempt of the victim's property to be stolen by the suspect. It is just an assumption, not fact. They can not do police work based on assumption. In conclusion I would like to thank Officer Stucker for doing his job, and doing it well. The officers are doing a great and are not given nearly enough credit.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005 4:24:00 PM  
Blogger Five Before Midnight said...

Thank you for your response but I didn't see you there when the incident occurred. You are only here because you were asked to come and given the site's address to do so. Not that loyalty isn't an admirable quality but yours is a bit blind.

No one has yet to come up with a good explanation as to why it's okay to know there are witnesses at the scene but without even talking to them to acertain what they have seen or not seen, put on a police report that there are none. The static here has not convinced me otherwise. I was really surprised by his decision to say there were no witnesses, as a witness to the incident and knowing other witnesses saw the assault occur from its beginning, which after all being in the middle of traffic in broad daylight was a bit hard to miss. It was certainly news to me, there were no witnesses. Very disappointing to learn that officer had stated that in his report, with four years of the stipulated judgement behind us.

It just wasn't true information because I know the truth having been there, so I have a real problem with calling that action, "excellent" police work. I think to do so would be to underestimate the quality of policing in this department and to see such a staunch backer of the department doing this, is just more troubling, though hardly surprising. After all, that is why they asked you to come here.

The excuse offered in a more recent post of it being apathy b/c of how the system handles these cases actually makes more sense in comparison to it being "excellent" policing.

It's too bad you don't seem to know the difference btwn what is excellent work and what is not, if this is your standard to work with. But then this attitude is part of the reason why we've paid $20 million reforming the department's pattern and practices under the stipulated aggreement.

As far as assumptions not being used in police work, they are used all the time. I believe you'd call that criminal profiling, a tool used in policing that is based a large part...on assumptions involving physical appearance and behavior which lead to actions(i.e. searches) based on those assumptions.

Thursday, October 20, 2005 1:46:00 PM  

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