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, September 29, 2005

When is an Officer-Involved shooting, murder?

Did Officer Ryan Wilson Murder Summer Lane?

It began on Dec. 6, sometime after 8pm, when RPD officer Ryan Wilson may have crossed the line, into murder if the information provided at a recent CPRC meeting is indeed factual evidence. If it is not murder, the relevations certainly shook the reticent review board's membership to the core, guaranteeing continued discussion and debate among its membership, and possibly a range war with the police department and its membership down the line.

That night, Wilson was dispatched to respond to a call for service from Food 4 Less inside the mall near Chicago and University. A cashier inside the store had called the police department on their non-emergency business line after refusing to accept what was believed to be the cashing of a payroll check by a man, and his girlfriend, Summer Lane. Her boyfriend was heading out of the store, when he was approached and tackled by a security guard to the floor. Wilson then arrived and the struggle continued between himself and the boyfriend in the parking lot outside the store.

At this point, versions of what transpired next differ depending on the source. One participant, Lane, of course was unable to tell her side.

The first blurb from the police department was brief, and filled with holes. It stated that Officer Ryan Wilson shot at Lane's car as she tried to run him over. It also stated that she may have actually struck him once.

The presentation by the department at the CPRC meeting on Dec. 22, 2004 was more lengthy but left a few issues unexplained. Not that it would answer many questions being what Chief Leach once testified in a deposition as being "a very sanitized version of the shooting incident."

The department had said on behalf of Wilson that Lane had tried to hit him with her car several times, and in fact ran over Wilson's left leg two, three, even four times. The department also said that Lane was backing into Wilson while he was fighting with her boyfriend on the ground, when he grabbed his gun and shot into the rear of the window, because he was in fear for his life.

That version of events was allowed to stand unchallenged until Sept. 28, when private investigator Norm Wright, a retired FBI agent, presented his own investigation of the Lane shooting to the CPRC. He agreed with the department's version, up to a point. Then he dropped the bomb shell that shook the CPRC especially its law enforcement booster quartet to the core.

According to eye witnesses, Wilson was not even on the ground when he shot Lane. He had gotten up, walked all the way behind her stationary vehicle, then walked up to her window or just behind it, and shot her four times straight without saying a word. Even though his left leg had allegedly been run over by Lane's car up to four times, Wilson not only did not limp, he walked at a quickened pace all the way to the point near the car where he pulled the trigger.

Lane died of at least one of those bullet strikes on the way to the hospital. Wilson eventually went to the hospital too, allegedly according to early reports with a broken ankle. Then it was reported that although his left leg was ran over by Lane's vehicle up to FOUR times, it was okay enough for him to be interviewed shortly after at the General Investigations Bureau, and even return to duty after the mandatory 72 hour cooling off period. Photographs in Wright's report showed only a couple of small abrasians aka road rash, and perhaps a contusion on Wilson's knee. Miraculous, for someone who had just had his left leg pressed into the ground, up to four times by a 1996 Honda car checking in at over a ton.

The DA after reviewing the investigation submitted by OIS shooting investigator Jay Greenstein declined to file charges against Wilson. The Internal Affairs Division which does not even conduct independent investigations of fatal shootings also pretended it did not see a thing. But apparently, Norm Wright did and through his report, the CPRC did also. Its blinders came off as it saw that life is not as simple as officers always telling the truth and always taking lives in a justified fashion. Real life is much messier, and even the most santitized version of an ugly incident put on display, can reap an awful truth.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

The invite list to Sutton's party

After three days, jury selection has been completed. There are 12 jurors and four alternates seated to hear the case. Of the main panel, there is one Black and two Hispanic jurors. Of the alternates, one is Black. The city kicked off at least four Black and Hispanic jurors and the judge called three Wheeler motions.

Over 50 witnesses are expected to testify:

Off. Richard Aceves
Off. Michael Andrews
Carla Aquino
Lt. Tim Bacon
Off. Brian Baitx
Capt. Mike Blakely
Sgt. Ed Blevins
ret. Sgt. Skip Blythe
Bill Burnett
Capt. Jim Cannon
Former chief Jerry Carroll
Off. Michael Carroll
Carl Chapman
Lt. Jeff Collapy
Capt. Richard Dana
Dep. Chief David Dominguez
Mark Elliot
Lt. Pete Esquival
Sgt. Valmont Graham
Penny Harrington
Off. Greg Hayden
Lt. Darryl Hurt
Sgt. Jeffrey Joseph
Offr. Kopkitch
Off. David L. Martin
Lt. Mark McFall
Al Mendoza
Sgt. Leon Phillips
Dep. Chief Andrew Pytlak
David Reever
ret. Lt. Wally Rice
Off. Steve Sdringola
Brad smith
ret. Asst. Chief Michael Smith
Off. Roger Sutton
Off. Ray Soto
Off. David Taylor
ret. Lt. Jay Theuer
Lt. Alex Tortes
Ret. Dep. Chief Audrey Wilson

Friday, September 16, 2005

Jury Picking, Riverside style

It was not until the end of the second day of picking a jury in the Roger Sutton case that Commissioner Joan F. Burgess realized that they would run out of prospective jurors in the current pool. At the beginning of the first day of trial, there had been 47 filled seats in Dept. 6. On Thursday afternoon, at 4:30pm, only 12 jurors remained besides the 10 seated in the jury box, and both sides announced that there would be 15 for cause challenges. That, is in addition to the presumptory challenges which remain for both sets of attorneys to exercise which could whittle down the jury pool even further.

Before recessing for the weekend, Burgess finally relented, and decided that 15 more jurors will be sent up from the jury room. It will not be enough.

The vast majority of jurors removed, have been for cause. Anyone who had any contact with anyone who hired, fired, disciplined, promoted, demoted or censored employees was gone by the second day. Anyone who lived in Casa Blanca, anyone who had prior negative contacts with the RPD(which on a bad day can be half the jury pool, this time somewhat less) was also quickly gone. If you were White and thus allowed to be ignorant about race and racism, you stayed. If you were Black or Hispanic and thus not allowed to be ignorant about race, you were gone. And predicably if you were of color, it was the city's stable of attorneys that sent you packing.

The black female juror who said, "I am Black. I can not separate myself from it. I'm for my people", well she will have to endure the entire voir dire questioning process before she's officially removed for cause.

When it came to race, the city was awfully shy about discussing it in public. Instead, they asked Burgess if they could retreat to the confines of her office, and always she agreed. It is one thing to close off interviews with jurors about personal experiences in a semi-confidential environment. It is another to use the guise of confidentiality to hide behind when discussing race and racism in the city of Riverside. Race, after all, being the heart of what this trial is about.

At one instance, Eugene Ramirez, etal retreated into Burgess's chambers, along with Sutton, his attorneys, the court reporter and oddly enough, Lt. Bob Meier, the city's representative in this case. The only time he was invited to chambers was when the city's attorneys aired their views on race in this trial. Why was that?

If you read the witness list or heard it read in court by Burgess, you will notice Meier's name is on it. As it should be, because he was a principal player in this episode. However, not only will he not be testifying, but he has been designated the city's representative in this case. Why is it, that the police department would assign an officer to monitor the case including what goes on in the judge's chambers, who has a vested interest in that case?

Hopefully, Meier was not invited into chambers when a juror was inside talking to the parties of the case about any negative experiences with the RPD. Inappropriate, would not begin to describe that kind of interaction.

But it is typical of the city to make decisions like this one with Meier, just as it is typical of the city to ignore the problems of racism within its employment ranks.

Sunday, September 11, 2005


Ron Loveridge: UCR professor and incumbant
Ameal Moore: councilman
Terry Frizzel: former mayor
Ward 2:
Andrew Melendrez: businessman
Deen Teer: Retired city employee
Gloria Willis: former school teacher, now activist
Ward 4:
Frank Schiavone: Business man and man of the Developers
Debrah Freeman: Works for County of Riverside Human Resources
Sam Cardalucci: Owns NEWCO, the city's former private refuge collection contractor
Corrine Parker: city employee
Ward 6:
Nancy Hart: City Council incumbant
Ric Costillo: Businessman

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Bits and pieces from here, there, everywhere

On Sept. 2, presiding Judge Joan F. Burgess issued tentative rulings on motions in limine submitted by attorneys for both sides in the racial discrimination, harassment and retaliation case filed by RPD officer Roger Sutton in 2000.

After about an hour of argument had passed and the dust had settled, Burgess decided on all but three of the motions.


Alleged racist commments witnessed by Sutton, as well as those publicized in the media in relation to the shooting of Tyisha Miller.

Allegations of racist incidents after 1991, and several incidents in the 1980s.


Most racist events alleged to have occurred pre-1991

Testimony on a law suit filed against former Chief Sonny Richardson in the 1900s.

Testimony about an incident in 1999 when according to former Riverside County Grand Jury Chairman Bill Burnett, then-Internal Affairs Lt. Bob Meier handed over Sutton's entire personnel file to Burnett, calling Sutton a "troublemaker", at the same time the Internal Affairs Division was purportedly investigating allegations of racism Sutton made against the department.


Statistical information about racial disparities in the department's firing or suspending of its officers after sustaining allegations of misconduct against them

Tyisha Miller testimony

Testimony in relation to the complaint filed by former officer Rene Rodriguez, with the state's Fair Employment and Housing Office in 1999.

The trial which has been put on hold for nearly five years is tentatively set to begin next week, if the trial which is scheduled to precede it is put on hold, or settled.

Earlier in this blog, there was an entry about the current status of the city's very own 800 lb gorilla, formally known as the RPOA and how its leadership is isolating itself from the officers they are supposed to represent. It appears that many officers in the rank and file are very displeased with the actions taken by the RPOA's PAC in terms of the candidates it endorses. Most of these officers are not informed or even asked if they believe in supporting the endorsements of the candidates the RPOA PAC selects, most notably in the fourth ward, which makes sense because most of the officers who reside in Riverside live in the "white flight" ward. Frank Schiavone, the current councilmember in that ward, serves first and foremost, the developers who fund his campaign and attend his fundraisers. Police officers, as a profession, comes a bit lower on his list, and police officers who live in his ward and their families come further down, with the rest of us mortals.

Say, you live in OrangeCrest(Riverside's own CopLand)and you have to commute to work on what passes for streets(i.e. Allesandrio is a great example) in this city. Unchecked growth, hopelessly backlogged infrastructure including that which eases traffic congestion may be more pertinent issues to you than whether or not 500 more multi-million dollar estates get approved for development down the street. More traffic and congestion hassles for you, more $$$ for Friends of Frank, and you are voting him into office, why????

Because your union PAC tells you to?



An update on the NARCO-Gate entry as well. It appears that the situation that broke in 2002, after the DEA spilled the beans to the RPD about the conduct of two of its Narcotics detectives, was(at the time) only the latest allegation of misconduct to befall on Kipp.

It seems that closer to the beginning of his career in the RPD(which began on Jan. 2, 1981)Kipp's job was endangered by allegations made against him which led to another internal investigation. If not for assistance he received from an employee in the RPD's brother agency, The Riverside County Sheriff's Department, Kipp might not be with this agency today, sources say.

Thursday, September 08, 2005


This scandal came to you, courtesy of the California State Attorney General's Office. No, they were not involved in creating it, but without this office's presense "in the back pocket" of the police department as one detective put it, this appalling and embarassing episode would have merely been treated as business as usual in the Riverside Police Department and swept beneath the carpet with the rest of the dirt.

The central figure in this sad chain of events is Det. Ron Kipp, a 24-year veteran of the police department, who spent over 18 years of his career working in narcotics.
This officer, who looks like a less washed up Nick Nolte, also had a clean personnel file despite his involvement in an off-duty arrest for assault, multiple nonfatal shootings including one that injured the female passenger in a pick up truck and one fatal shooting in 1996.

The number of years Kipp spent inside the narcotics division without being reassigned should have triggered a red flag. Instead of looking at his long tenure as simply creating a more experienced and seasoned narc, his supervisors should have been looking for signs of trouble. They were just around the bend.

Kipp was busted in April 2001, for telling an informant to sell drugs at a higher price than that authorized by the department and telling him to keep the extra money from the sale. According to a memo he received from then Internal Affairs Lt. Bob Meier, Kipp had violated two sections of RPD policy 2.23. These were:

V. The failure to reasonable action while on duty:

W. Exceeding the lawful peace officer powers by unreasonable, unlawful and excessive misconduct.

He received as discipline after a four month investigation, an eight-month suspension and a transfer to the robbery unit. Another narcotics detective, Roberta Hopewell, who was the initial subject of the allegations made by a DEA agent, was transferred to the Auto Theft Unit. Kipp later accused Hopewell of lying to investigators when she pointed the finger at him for misconduct she had been accused of, in a deposition he gave in relation to a civil law suit filed in connection with a criminal case.

Defense Attorney Andres Bustamonte, who represented a man named Benito Salazar in a felony drug and animal welfare case, deposed Kipp, yet it was the arrival of another attorney, Victor Sherman that turned the deposition into a confessional by Kipp of how the RPD's narcotics division conducted its operations. Kipp, who openly admired Sherman, said that although the department and the Riverside County's District Attorney's office had clashed over the use of "walled off" stings, the prosecutors of that agency jumped on the bandwagon several years before and were more willing accomplices in the process. Even though this type of sting, which involves concealing information or existance about informants from prosecutors and judges, is not illegal, in certain cases such as those described in the deposition by Kipp, the RPD clearly crossed the line.

Barbara Taylor, a deputy prosecutor with the Los Angeles County District Attorney's office said in a May 14, 2003 article published by the Los Angeles Daily Journal

"If the informant is a percipient witness, if he watched something go down, then we need to know that because it has to be given to the defense"

The lawyers for Salazer later alleged that there were at least five criminal cases involving the same informant selling pseudoepherdine cases to people to use for meth production, then secretly broke their tail lights from 2002-2003 before leaving them to drive off. A short time later, a patrol car would pull them over on the tail light, do a search and find the drugs. In at least one case, Kipp allegedly tailed the suspects in a gold colored pickup truck with no license plate before the traffic stop. Those officers would then call either Kipp or another detective in narcotics named Danzek and they would come out and handle it. Several of the patrol officers who made the stops are now in narcotics.

According to Kipp's deposition, the patrol officers had no knowlege that he knew beforehand there were drugs in the vehicles and just believed they were conducting pretext stops on traffic violations. Why, any members of the department would set up unsuspecting officers in such a fashion is one only those individuals can answer, though if the officers involved in the stops knew that they were actors in a staged event, then there is still another can of worms to open out there.

Allegations were made against Kipp that he allowed this informant which he hid as part of a "walled off" sting to sell drugs on the side, and if he gave Kipp 4-5 busts a year, "his back was covered." Kipp denied all of them, including those made by the DEA agent.

links on the crackdown at the RPD:

RPD Narcotics operations brought to standstill

scroll down to "It's just Business as Usual".

15 narcotics cases under review

Kipp was deposed by a lawyer, allegedly for a civil case. The city attorney's office did not know about this for several months. A representative appeared from the State Atty General's office and Kipp had believed he was being questioned by him. The AG representative, Michael Stamp, remained silent during most of the proceedings except to prevent Salazer's attorney from asking Kipp questions about the city attorney's involvement in trying to suppress the use of portions of this deposition to gain access to Kipp's personnel records in court.

When Salazer's attorneys tried to uncover information about the informant, nicknamed "El Lobo", they were thwarted for over two years. Finally, presiding judge Edward D. Webster ruled that the prosecutor had to turn over a list of cases where the informant was involved. Webster added that related criminal cases could be overturned on appeal, and civil litigation could be filed against the police department and the D.A.'s office.

Kipp on the investigation against him: (excerpt People of the State vs Salazer, RIF123653--deposition taken Nov. 18, 2002)

"I think this is why this thing is getting held up is because they are a little afraid to mess with me on this deal b/c it's the way business was always conducted even when he[then Capt. Andrew Pytlak] was sergeant."

Kipp on the reluctance to discipline him:

"Because this is way we've always done it. It's never been a secret."

Kipp on the Attorney General Investigation:

"I don't know what the hell their problem is. I think the big problem is the Attorney General's office. They're so afraid of not looking proper. You know, with the A.G.'s office being in our back pocket and overseeing everything we do. I think that's our biggest problem."

Kipp on fighting his suspension:

"I won't go down for this. They don't want me exposing their administration's policies. Not only can I prove that they lied about their policies, I will do it."

Again, ladies and gentlemen, this latest scandal was uncovered by the State Attorney General's office's presense "in the back pocket" of the RPD. This office will be checking out on March 6, 2005 hopefully taking all of the department's scandals, uncovered and otherwise, with it.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Roger Sutton's day in court stymied again

Today, Commissioner Joan Burgess of the Riverside County Superior Court postponed the set trial date of Roger Sutton v the City of Riverside in deference to several other cases on her civil calendar. The case that was first filed five years ago last month, is once again tabled.

Burgess opened the door to settlement talks, mentioning that some times even the cases where both parties appear the furthest apart in terms of reaching a consensus often settle. The firm shakes of the heads of the attorneys for Officer Roger Sutton, and the city, shut that door quickly. There will be no last-minute meetings held in chambers, it appears in this case. So, Burgess finally scheduled about a dozen motion in limines filed by the city to be heard at 1:30pm on Sept. 6. Both sides agreed to that date, but the actual trial date remains once again, up in the air.

The city of Riverside filed the dozen motions to trim down what it views as the excess material in the Sutton case. What the city objects to as it has in every racial discrimination, harassment and retaliation case filed by a Black city employee, is the evidence these employees use to prove their cases. As far as the city is concerned, at every incident of racism it stares at, it exclaims "Out, Out Damn Spot"!

If all the evidence is allowable at trial, both sides said the case will take between three to six weeks, and over 50 witnesses including past and present members of the RPD brass will testify.

With all the delays, from attorneys donating their kidneys, to the periodic freezing of civil calendars to accomodate Riverside County's criminal trial schedule, the question has been asked, Will this case ever be presented in a courtroom? Will the racial environment of the Riverside Police Department which had brought federal and state scrutiny to investigate its workings, ever be put on trial?

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