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

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

The CPRC's Role in All This?

Last week, the CPRC received its briefing on the shooting of Lee Deante Brown. It had already initiated its own investigation into the shooting, the day after it happened. The investigator has interviewed witnesses including several new ones, which is good news at least for the investigation that they were found. It remains to be seen if that is good news for the police department as well.

It will take months before the investigator returns to the CPRC with his completed report in hand to brief the CPRC in much greater detail than the briefing that took place last week. The commissioners will review that information, along with the entire investigative report submitted by the police department's homicide division. Then the CPRC will begin the process of drafting its own report, including holding discussions on how its members viewed the shooting, in relation to its adherence(or lack thereof) to departmental policy. After the report is completed, the commissioners will then access the administrative review conducted by the Internal Affairs Division of the department's own criminal investigation and then meet behind closed doors to discuss, deliberate and ultimately decide whether or not the shooting was within departmental policy.

Six times out of seven, that process has led to the CPRC affirming the department's own investigation. One time, it did not. Before the final decision was made, unidentified correspondents on this site predicted, even boasted that the CPRC ultimately would hold no power in terms of determining the outcome of a fatal officer-involved shooting. Ultimately, they were correct in their assertions. The city manager's office abstained from the decision and left it up to Chief Russ Leach who sided with his department's own investigation to the surprise of no one. The outcome was likely not as spontaneous as it seemed, given the comments written here that prophesied it. Sounds more like a contingency plan was in place.

The relationship between the CPRC and the various factions of the RPD has been a stormy one. For some, it's a public relations tool to bridge the gap(some might say gorge) between the department and the communities in Riverside. Others look at it as if it is the devil's incarnate. Still others look at it as something in between.

Here once again, is Officer Hands Tied to give his perspective on the issue. Some congratulations are in order. Officer Hands Tied has won the prestigious Scoobie award for the best acting performance during a non-winning political campaign.


HOST: Good morning, Officer Hands Tied. I understand that this is an issue that you remain very passionate about. Do you think that this form of oversight is necessary?

HT: Of course not. It's just unnecessary duplication, repetition and replication of what we already have in place. We have the D.A's office, the State AG's office, the U.S. Attorney's office, the FBI and God.

HOST: Well, some might argue that if you are so sure you are always doing the right thing, then you wouldn't be afraid of one more form of oversight.

HT: It's just sooooo unnecessary.

HOST: But it's a young body. It's only been around this century. Wouldn't you say it's a diamond in the rough?

HT: No. I don't like diamonds anyway. They are hard, unforgiving gems whose clarity is dependent on where they came from. One minute you can not see it in front of you, then there it is sits on top of the mantle out of reach. It spends time on Rick's list, located under the palm tree, then ascends up the glass ladder to a place in the meadow already cleared before it. Gold is my thing. Everywhere. I'd bathe in it if I could. Gold is pretty to the eye, uniform in color and pliable. Where I came from, it was very abundant.

HOST: Say what?

HT: If I were Rumplestilskin, I could make it.

HOST: But you are not him. He's a mean little man who wanted something he could never have.

HT: He did pray for people though.

HOST: Don't you think that you might be just a little sensitive about the reality that nine civilians are standing in judgment of how you do your job?

HT: You have to have a thick skin to move up in this place. That's what I learned. It took me a while though, one act of rebellion before I spoke up for the bystander. It's tough to be a diamond in this world. Tougher still to be me.

HOST: I've lost you there.

HT: Remember who I am after all. What I am.

HOST: How much celebrating did you do after the dissolution of the Stipulated Judgment anyway? It sounds like quite a bit.

HT: Oh 40 ounces here, more there. It was a party that was a long time coming after all. Plenty of time left to celebrate.

HOST: O-kay. It's not always a pleasure to talk with you, but it's always interesting.


Blogger Ayman said...


Wednesday, April 19, 2006 10:01:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Mary, I asked you a couple of weeks ago when you felt officers should and should not use deadly force. Your response was to ask the RPD for a copy of their policy! Now, you've had over two weeks to think of when cops should be allowed to use deadly force and you could not come up with one thing. Most officers have seconds to make the same type of decision (whether or not to use deadly force). Unfortunately, policies and procedures do not cover every circumstance that an officer can face. Now as for the mentally ill, can you define that please? Does the mentally ill include those that put illegal substances into their bodies like PCP and rock cocaine-sorry Sandalou, I know you get a little peeved when people start making fun of those who use rock cocaine---Mary, I hearby proclaim that all mentally ill people should be allowed to do whatever they want including imposing threats against cops because they are mentally ill!!!!

"Can I get a little bit, just a little bit!"

Asti Spamanti-(And this is how I spell it therefore, it is not mispelled)!!!!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006 8:13:00 PM  
Blogger Five Before Midnight said...

Dear AS:

Thank you for your response. My, you are antsy aren't you? It's only been a few days since you asked that question and I had responded. I do apologize for not reading it or you correctly the first time. I had believed that you were not a trained expert on this issue, but merely a concerned citizen, like your friend "Joe".

However, your response to my response makes it clear that you are the former, not the latter. Consequently, I imagine it was quite insulting for you to be subjected to such a response as being told to seek out a copy of the RPD's use of force policy! It would have been a basis to start from but you clearly are well past that point.

You raise interesting issues, abeit in a somewhat backhanded kind of way. You are obviously passionate about your opinions, as shown by the flurry of punctuation marks, expressing a curious mixture of angst and enthusiasm.

First of all, you made assumptions that Mr. Brown was on PCP and apparently, rock cocaine as well, when the truth is, the toxicology results have not been released yet and apparently will not be released by the department until the investigation is completed. This is somewhat different protocol than what has happened in other cases including the shootings of Tyisha Miller, Anastacio Munoz, Rene Guevera and Summer Marie Lane. In these cases, the results of the various toxicology tests were readily released as soon as they were completed. In this case, this has not happened. In the past, the department has released information from its OIS investigations if it felt it were useful to do so to *prove* its case. Hopefully, its refusal to do so this time is indicative of an attempt to move away from that strategy rather than a continued embrace of it. However, there is also the possibility that the test results were not what the investigators expected so they are back to the drawing board and at a loss of what to do now.

Without toxicology results, it is premature to state that Mr. Brown had PCP in his system when he was shot to death by Officer Terry Ellefson. It might indeed be true. Then again, it might not be substained by what's found(and what is not) in the toxicological tests. Another possibility to consider is that another drug(i.e. marijuana, alcohol) might be discovered in Brown's body instead.

The assumption that Brown was on PCP, was made in part because one of the motel residents had told Officer Stucker when he arrived that Brown was under the influence of that drug. Also, after the fact, it was discovered that Brown had just been arrested without incident on April 1, while under the influence of a controlled substance. The police department has said that this substance was PCP. Whether that strengthens the argument that he was on PCP on April 3, remains to be seen if it is backed by the evidence. I can see that this assumption of Brown being on PCP(although the cocaine allegation is a new one) is already being hailed in some circles that you travel in, because it is apparently very necessary to do this for some reason at this point in time.

Both officers, like most of those currently in the RPD's patrol division, are relatively inexperienced and consequently were not working when PCP was more of factor in terms of altercations between civilians under the influence of it and law enforcement officers. It is unknown what training they received(or did not) in this area. It is important to know the answers even if PCP isn't a direct factor because they were operating under some assumption(a report from a motel resident) that Brown was under its influence. Thus, it played a role in terms of developing a tactical strategy for handling the situation. On the other hand, if it is absent from his body, then so would be the super-human strength, imperviousness to painful stimuli and the emotional and mental affects suffered when using the drug.

The mentally ill are defined as individuals suffering from either a psychotic disorder or a personality disorder as defined by the DSM-IV(it's updated periodically). It is the standard for the diagnosis of mental disorders in the United States. Worldwide, the standard is based on criteria submitted by the World Health Organization.

It is often difficult to tell where the mentally ill population begins and the drug addicted population ends, because many mentally ill people particularly those suffering from clinical depression, schitzophrenia and bipolar disorder self-medicate by using legal and illegal drugs including alcohol and marijuana, according to medical experts.

The department is governed by its use of force policy which itself is based in part on the legal terminology associated with what a "reasonable" person would do in a situation including use lethal force. The bone of contention often even between different LA agencies is what is defined by "reasonable".

In this situation, it may have been used in part because of the decisions made by the officers leading up to it. It appears those were based on a lack of experience and training in dealing with the mentally ill as well as seious tactical problems both officers experienced when implementing their tasers(i.e. shooting darts at close range in contraindication to the use and "friendly fire" by taser as Stucker experienced when Ellefson shot a taser dart into his hand, allowing him to be shocked.) The above contentions are supported by the police department's own statement of the facts. Like I said, even if its version is correct, it's not a pretty picture.

The prudent thing to do if these facts do indeed hold up under scrutiny is to address the tactical issues and come up with strategies and training to deal with the mentally ill populations. Another, is to examine taser usage in this case and others and determine whether the proper training is being made readily available to every single officer in the field division. The RPOA leadership should take the initiative in doing this, through its reactivated safety committee.

Once again, there is this equating Black people with "those who use rock cocaine". Either it has been with you or another person who has posted similar rhetoric here, but it is clear that people who have commented here have the two groups confused.

They can only see Black people(here, referred to as either drug dealers or crack cocaine users) and Latinos(as "gangsters"), yet curiously when it comes to victims who are members of those racial groups, the race is omitted each time victims of crimes have been mentioned here. This is in large part due to lack of exposure to other racial groups especially African-Americans while growing up.

Police departments try to offset this problem by imposing cultural diversity training on their officers, but it is like bailing out a leaky boat with a paper bucket. It really has no effect at all. It certainly hasn't with some officers at least and it's a hard thing to measure effectively.

I will continue to pray for you however, as you have prayed for me.

Take care,

Friday, April 21, 2006 8:42:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Mary....

"The mentally ill are defined as individuals suffering from either a psychotic disorder or a personality disorder as defined by the DSM-IV(it's updated periodically). It is the standard for the diagnosis of mental disorders in the United States."

With this being said, you should check yourself in ASAP!

Yours Truly,

Ofc. B. Fife

Friday, April 21, 2006 12:20:00 PM  
Blogger Five Before Midnight said...

Dear Mr. Fife:

Thank you for your prompt response. I take it then that your questions have been answered?

Have a nice day,

Saturday, April 22, 2006 1:32:00 PM  

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