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


My Photo
Location: RiverCity, Inland Empire

Saturday, April 22, 2006

First We Did. Now We Don't.

Tyisha Miller had a blood alcohol of 0.13 and her initial toxicology tests showed the presence of cannabis, according to the Riverside County Sheriff-Coroner's office, when she was shot and killed by four police officers in December 1998. As early as Jan. 8, 1999, these toxicology results were printed in articles written in the Press Enterprise.

In that article, Sgt. Chris Manning said that accessing these toxicology results would enable investigators to better assess what had happened in a situation leading up to a critical incident.

Anastacio Munoz had a blood alcohol of 0.20, when he was shot and killed by Officer Melissa Wagner Brazil(who ironically also had a blood alcohol of 0.20 when she was involved in an off-duty vehicle accident in Corona in 2004, according to court records) and Officer Carl Michael Turner in November 2002. Munoz's blood alcohol level was mentioned in several news articles after the shooting.

Rene Guevera was seen drinking out of a beer bottle and tested above the legal limit(0.08) for alcohol, when he was shot and killed by Officer Richard Prince in December 2003. His drinking was mentioned in several news articles, based on accounts provided by the police department.

Summer Marie Lane was under the influence of methamphetamine when she was shot and killed by Officer Ryan Wilson. Her drug use was mentioned at a briefing held by the department in December 2004.

Lee Deante Brown was alleged to have used PCP before he was shot and killed by Officer Terry Ellefson on April 3, 2006. Toxicology results will not be released until the department has completed its investigations, which will take at least six more months.


On one level, it could be considered commendable that the department has declined to release the toxicology results, because it might go along with their statement that they do not wish to "try" the investigation in the press. This decision to do so would deviate from past practice where the police department has either commented on or released toxicology results as soon as they came in. This left many community members feeling as if the department was using those test results to justify the actions of their officers in these shootings, especially when those statements were made in the initial days and weeks after the shootings occurred. This sentiment was most prevalent after the shooting of Miller and led to a lot of complaints and heated discussions on the issue in different circles.

However, one problem with this sudden reversal on protocol is that when it comes to Brown, there has already been this assumption floating around for several weeks that he was on PCP when he was shot by Ellefson. This assumption which was provided on several occasions by representatives from the police department has been used to explain and defend the officers' actions against him. One woman said that when she had asked an officer how Brown could grab a taser out of an officer's hand, she was told that a man on PCP had the strength of three men.

Then there are people like "Asti Spamati"(whomever or whatever he is) who seem to believe that he is not mentally ill at all, just using illegal substances including PCP and rock cocaine, when often the line between the mentally ill and the drug addict can be blurred by the fact that untreated mentally ill people may attempt to self-medicate by using legal substances(alcohol) and illegal substances, according to medical experts.

A lot of the assumptions about Brown first arose when it was revealed that one witness, possibly Kenneth Williams, had told Officer Michael Stucker that Brown was on PCP. The police department acknowledged at its April 12 briefing that a witness had made that initial comment. Also, Brown had been arrested without incident on April 1 at a motel, for being under the influence of an illegal substance, which the department said was PCP.

However, was Brown under the influence of PCP when he was shot by police two days later? Only those who have access to the tests can know for sure and they are not talking, even though they were the ones who first put that word out there.

Those tests could have different possible outcomes. Brown could have been on PCP either alone or with another substance. Brown could have tested negatively for all controlled substances, or he could have tested positively for another drug altogether(i.e marijuana).

Another factor that could explain the disparate treatment by the police department is that the turnaround for laboratories for blood alcohol testing is much faster than it is for drug testing and most of the previous cases involved alcohol intoxication. While initial drug tests might come back several days to several weeks after the samples are drawn, more detailed drug screening may take up to six weeks or longer. Consequently, the information is available to be disseminated earlier.

More detailed drug screening is most often done when the initial tests are positive for controlled substances. Getting an accurate toxicology reading from someone who has died also poses complications including delays as well, although especially in Miller's case it did not prevent positive test results for several substances being made readily available for public dissemination. In Brown's case, his toxicology tests had been expedited in order to learn the truth quickly, the police chief reassured people at one meeting.

With all this aside, it still is curious that the police department has opted not to release the results of its toxicology tests, even as the discussion of Brown's possible PCP use has suddenly died down from its corner. Those who are cynical might think that the department has already received the toxicology results and they did not reveal what had been expected. Hopefully, the department has learned enough in the past five years to not choose to withhold them for that reason.

The department's current position is that it will not release the toxicology results until it has completed its investigation which may take six months or longer. By then, the public's attention will have probably moved on(hopefully, not towards the next shooting).

If Brown did test positive for PCP, then it's a contributing factor to a tragic situation which led to his death. PCP will be the major focus of attention rather than mental illness and it will deter people from tackling the issues of either problem because he will be labeled as a person who deserves what he got.

However, if the reality is instead, that Brown was not on PCP at the time he was shot to death, it will be quietly whispered as a footnote on a piece of paper stacked together with hundreds of other papers in a three-ring binder that defines the department's own investigation. PCP will still be the major focus of attention rather than the issue of mental illness and it will deter people from tackling the issues of either problem because he will be labeled as a person who deserves what he got.

Well, at least until it's the CPRC's turn to evaluate all the evidence and information in addition to what it has gathered on its own. Since its own evaluation takes place in a more public arena, the public will be allowed to participate while it drafts its public report. Once that report becomes public, so will Brown's PCP status. Then whether the answer is positive or negative, it will likely be known why the department withheld this information as well, given that it did put that information out there in the first place.

If the test was positive, then hopefully, by that time the department will have started putting together tactical strategies and training to at least deal with individuals under the influence of PCP so something beneficial can come out of this tragedy. Because the officers were operating at least under the assumption that Brown was on PCP(based on information given to them) this is something that needs to be done. It will probably choose not to tackle the more complex issues of mental illness if it can focus its attention elsewhere, which will then have to wait until the next critical incident involving a mentally ill person. Just like other critical incidents that occurred before the Brown shooting were ignored.

If Brown was not on PCP, nothing will happen or change in the interim. Unless that truth comes out, Brown's legacy will be that he was high on PCP when he died, not that his death became the cornerstone of the RPD's new crisis intervention program on addressing the interactions between police officers and the mentally ill.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Mary - stick with the facts! You state that RPD has used PCP intoxication to explain officers' actions on several occassions. Really. When was that? Definately not in anything published.

The press release issued by the department on April 4th made no mention of Mr. Brown being under the influence. Sarah Burge, the oh-so-impartial reporter at the PE, quoted department brass as saying the calls recieved were of a "mental problem" nature. It was the "witnesses" (bystanders) that Ms. Burge reported had said Mr. Brown might have been under the influence of drugs.

Don't put words in people's mouths to try and make a point. If the word on the street is that Mr. Brown was high, maybe they have more info than you.

Mr. Brown's legacy? Bystanders also report it took 7 police officers to get Mr. Brown into the police car when he was arrested for being under the influence two nights before he was shot. I wouldn't call that being arrested "without incident." Did a little more, Mary, and I'm sure you'll find out what Mr. Brown's real legacy will be - and it has nothing to do with mental illness awareness.

Saturday, April 22, 2006 8:47:00 PM  
Blogger Five Before Midnight said...

Dear Anonymous:

Thank you for your comments. As always, the picture that you present on the Riverside Police Department is not pretty, but serves as a good indicator regardless of how much work still needs to be done to improve it. I find your contributions very educational and useful, because they reflect a truth inside the department which its management tries hard to keep from surfacing. Whenever I believe that the department has made great progress in the past five years, all I have to do is read your comments and those of your pals(real and fictional) to bring me back to the reality that it has not changed at all in some ways. In addition, while your comments may be intended to challenge my points(which is rare since you usually retreat behind crude and offensive humor instead), they always wind up proving them instead. This posting did not disappoint in either of these areas. Thank you for your assistance.

I attended two community meetings the first weeks after the shooting. At one of them, a department representative made comments about Lee Brown possibly being on PCP, in part because he had allegedly been arrested for being under the influence of it two days before the shooting. In fact, that was why the toxicology tests were going to be expedited to find out for certain. Because I do not know who you are, I can not say whether I saw you at either meeting. Somehow, I don't think so.

That was the first reference I heard to Brown being on PCP at all by any party. It was also the first time I heard that Brown was apparently mentally ill and that the department had received medical records indicating these problems. That information did not and has not appeared in published form either.

As far as what the "word on the street" is, are you aware that none of the civilian witnesses agreed with the version of the incident provided by the police department, according to department representatives? I would guess that you do not give this "word on the street" the same kind of credibility you give it in your post. Instead you would probably borrow the same words used by your buddy, "Joe Citizen" to discredit them. Even though they witnessed the incident and technically, could be considered more informed about it than you are even given your ability to access information on other investigations relating to Brown that were conducted by the police department, in circumvention of the restrictions placed on most civilians upon accessing that information.

You do seem to be very informed on the investigation involving this shooting. Perhaps you would be a good spokesman for the department about it. You're doing a great job here, in a matter of speaking.

Did a little more, Mary, and I'm sure you'll find out what Mr. Brown's real legacy will be - and it has nothing to do with mental illness awareness.

Oh, there is no need to dig at all to come to this conclusion! All you have to do is to know the department's history on these issues or on any issues that challenge its way of thinking and you will learn that the only thing that is consistent is that the attitude you have expressed here is what prevails and will usually prevail. If it doesn't, then management usually gets ousted, either by vote or by haircut. As long as that remains true, Chief Leach's recent promises to community members to more closely examine issues pertaining to the mentally ill no matter how well intentioned, will probably not be realized.

It is that same attitude that ultimately led to the federal and state investigations of the department's patterns and practices and both agencies found them most wanting. This agency could have made history by being the only one of its kind to have had two separate consent decrees imposed on it at the same time. Mercifully, it only had to deal with one.

As you know, one watershed incident involving how the police department handles the mentally ill population apparently had occurred already and was posted here by one of you. I doubt any increased understanding of the mentally ill arose out of that critical incident nor were there any crisis intervention programs created or training implemented by the department. In fact, it appears there was no information given out at all to the public on the incident itself, until it was posted here. Maybe they were concerned about community reaction then.

This is not the only issue that should arise from this shooting incident. There should also be examination of the tactics used by Officers Ellefson and Stucker, particularly those involving the deployment of the tasers.

I'm still confused and very concerned as to how Stucker wound up with one of the darts from Ellefson's taser stuck in his hand, just before he felt the electricity from a fired taser running through his own body. This information was provided in Capt. Cannon's briefing he gave before the CPRC, which I'm fairly sure you did not attend. Perhaps you can provide clarity on that issue, because the department representatives had opted not to answer any questions the commissioners probably had on this very serious issue.

Thanks in advance, and have a nice day,

p.s. btw, occasion only has one "s", not two. Look on the bright side though, you didn't spell "misspell" incorrectly, like Mr. Asti. ;-)

Sunday, April 23, 2006 3:53:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can agree with one point you made - there were typos in the last post. But is that why people come here, Mary? For spelling lessons?

I'm surprised and in disbelief that you don't read the PE. You said the community meetings where presentations were made by RPD in the weeks after the shooting were the first you heard of possible PCP intoxication. The very first report in the PE, the day after the shooting, states, "Witnesses said the man appeared to have mental problems or to be under the influence of drugs." So, like I said, the first public reference to Mr. Brown being drugged was by the "witnesses" (bystanders) at the scene. Maybe you can't bring yourself to read what your competition prints???

As for the "word on the street" and its credibility - you must be familiar with the well-known fact that no two witnesses will ever have the exact same perspective. I'm sure when all the statements become public, there will even be discrepancies between the officers statements, and they were the most involved. Of course the people watching from a distance would have a different perspective and might not have seen everything that occurred. We cannot assume because they didn't see it that it must not have happened. Perspective.

I wish you a pleasant day as well.

Sunday, April 23, 2006 7:16:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Mary, since it seems in your recent comments that you are proclaiming to be some type of expert on police use-of-force, tazer use, deadly force, mental illness, behavior related to the use of controlled substances, "blogger profiling", and the English dialect, can you answer one question? When do "YOU" think it is reasonable for police officers to use deadly force?!!!!(Ah, there's those exclamation points again).

As for rock cocaine being the drug of choice for those in the African American community who choose to partake in the great pasttime of the 1980's, which is to light up a fat pipe and hit that rock like it's nobody's business-it is true. Just like it's true that methamphetamine is the more commonly seen drug in white and Hispanic communities and Heroin is more commonly seen in Hispanic communities. Also, can you research the incidents involving RPD cops who have been killed in the line-of-duty and of those, how many of them were killed by black suspects or "allegedly" killed by black suspects, and what population percentage of blacks made up the city during the time period that these incidents occurred? Of course I'm not suggesting that these figures would imply that cops should get to do what they want to black people or that there are not law abiding black citizens in the City. Anyways, I have to go suck on a swisher sweet and enjoy the taste of my Old English foty oz. before Sandalou gets to it...

Asti Spamanti

Monday, April 24, 2006 8:27:00 AM  
Blogger Five Before Midnight said...

Dear Anonymous:

Thank you for your comments.

I do read the Press Enterprise but not every day. I am pleased to see that your apparent animosity towards that newspaper that you expressed several days ago appears to have resolved itself over time.

However, the portion of the first news article that you cited made a reference to drugs in general, not PCP in particular. My comments addressed PCP itself. The first mention of PCP in a Press Enterprise news article did not appear until several days later.

(Of course in the first article, witnesses also made a reference to him appearing to have mental problems, an assertion you have clearly rejected.)


Williams said he told the officer that Brown appeared to be under the influence of PCP and that he shouldn't approach him.

This article was published after a meeting I had attended where a department representative had made the statements about PCP use. By the time I read it, it was not really "news".

I do agree with your comments on perspective and its role in eyewitness accounts of critical incidents. Of course, this statement you made

We cannot assume because they didn't see it that it must not have happened. Perspective.

can also be read another way. We can not assume that because they did not see it that it happened. Perspective. Any good police investigator has to balance perspectives equally along with other evidence to come to a logical conclusion of how events unfolded leading up to and including a critical incident.

Have a nice day,

Monday, April 24, 2006 9:23:00 AM  
Blogger Five Before Midnight said...

Dear Asti:

Is that why you hate African-Americans so much? Is that why other officers in the RPD have hated them so much? Wow.

I am asking because it is clear and it has been made so clear here(and probably in other locations outside the scope of the roll call room's cameras)that you do.

Monday, April 24, 2006 9:32:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah, don't have an answer, call someone a racist. I don't hate African Americans, I hate you! And last time I checked, you're white, and an idiot!



Monday, April 24, 2006 11:52:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, and Mary, I would like your opinion on when you believe police officers should use deadly force.


Monday, April 24, 2006 11:54:00 AM  
Blogger Five Before Midnight said...

Dear Asti:

Thank you for your responses.

Your question on use of force has been asked and answered. I take it you do not like the answer you received so you have chosen to repeat the question.

Speaking of questions, mine about how Ellefson's taser dart apparently found its way into Officer Stucker's hand after being fired remains unanswered. This concern and question arose out of information disseminated on April 12 by representatives from the police department. Instead, you stated that I had claimed to be an expert on tasers and other assorted items on your laundry list. Au contraire. I asked another unidentified person(who may or may not be you) a question involving the use of a taser, believing that perhaps this person was an expert on tasers and they could answer it. I believe that was some time before your latest temper tantrum.

I never stated that you were a racist, but asked you a question based on a post which btw, offended most of the people I showed it to yesterday. They wondered how someone could write something so racist, but then most Black people I talk to have come to expect little else from the RPD. I believe and have always believed that this is pretty unfortunate. $22.6 million can not cure the racism in this police department. State consent decrees can not do this either. Only the minds and hearts of those inside it can do that and they have to want to do so. Those who do have their work cut out for them especially(and thanks to)with people like you in the mix somewhere.

I hate you! And last time I checked, you're white, and an idiot!

I'm shocked, no really, by your words. I had no idea you hated me. I have never been hated by an alcoholic beverage before but then again, I have never seen one post before either. However, you are really a person hiding behind a moniker who has been having a rather lengthy temper tantrum. Thank you for sharing your feelings with me, but I see you hiding behind the curtain.

So we've bumped into each other before? Hmmm. I must not have noticed, but then maybe that's been your problem all along.


(in lieu of saluting an alcoholic beverage)

Tuesday, April 25, 2006 8:56:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Okay Mary, I'll make you a deal. If you can please tell me again (since I must have missed it) when "you" think police officers should use deadly force, I will stop making fun of Sandalou's fondness for malt liquor, and I will take back my references to African Americans WHO engage in illegal drug use, of having a preference for rock cocaine-even though it is true...

"Get high on life, not on drugs!"

Asti Spamanti

Tuesday, April 25, 2006 6:22:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I will stop making fun of Sandalou's fondness for malt liquor"

The only thing I could be less concerned about than what you say Mr Serpico Starsky Asti Cartoon Cop, is what you think. Especially in light of the fact that all your moronic, racist insults are based on one very large and erroneous assumption.

As far as your whining about being called out for poor spelling, the lack of care in that area when you are in fact trying to influence people only goes to show that you are probably equally sloppy and dismissive of correct procedures in other areas of your life.

Somehow, this isn't a surprise.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006 5:09:00 AM  
Blogger Sandalou said...

Just so there is no confusion Mary, I wrote the above comment. Sorry about the anonymous, forgot to turn on my ID.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006 5:11:00 AM  
Blogger Five Before Midnight said...

Dear Asti Spamati:

LOL. Now there's a first.

A person who uses racial tolerance(or lack thereof) as a bargaining chip. Wow. I thought I had seen it all. Apparently not. I'm truly stunned.

Your question was asked and answered. I am not expecting you to answer my taser question at this point. I guess I'll have to wait to read the CPRC report to see how its investigator answers it. Thank goodness for the CPRC or there would be no transparency over these shootings!

Have a nice day,

Wednesday, April 26, 2006 9:34:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To all,
Mary corrects mispelled words to feel intelectually superior. Truthfully, Mary is not an objective reporter as she might have us believe. Mary surely has an agenda against cops. Mary's reporting of facts are more like Mary-tales, spun from her perspectives. One sided views, just like the rag she writes for. Let's keep it REAL Mary; you will always find an ax to grind pertaining to those in Law Enforcement.

Thursday, April 27, 2006 2:47:00 AM  
Blogger Five Before Midnight said...


Hmm. Now there's a blast from the past!

Same message. Same intent. Different style of communication.

Take care, ahem, Asti,

p.s. didn't you read what I told you about the word, "misspelled"?

Thursday, April 27, 2006 8:25:00 AM  
Blogger Sandalou said...

Except that she has no problem with legitimate officers does she? Just the few of you that are so deficient that you think a badge gives you the right to terrorize and kill in cold blood the people you swear to protect.

You're not fooling anyone sad sack. The only people that have anything negative to say about what is written here is you sorry specimens it's written about. The whole rest of the world knows the truth.

Friday, April 28, 2006 12:52:00 AM  
Blogger Sandalou said...

And since it seems to bother you so oh limp one, intellectually is spelled with 2 l's in both places.

Friday, April 28, 2006 12:56:00 AM  
Blogger Five Before Midnight said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Friday, April 28, 2006 9:52:00 AM  
Blogger Five Before Midnight said...

Dear sandalou:

Thank you for your comments.

I do not have any problems with officers who behave professionally and who protect and serve all members of the public equally, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, economic status, religion and age. The RPD does have officers of this caliber in its ranks. It's highly unlikely they are spending time here no matter how many times "Asti" tries to rally them to his cause.

I do not place "Asti" and his buddies in that category, however. They have proven themselves to be the antithesis of good and professional police officers. I am sure that is probably true in other arenas as well as this one.

Pushing for better policing in Riverside does attract negative attention from certain LE officers within the RPD both online and off, but that is a small and unfortunately necessary price to pay for the hopes that some day the RPD will truly be what it can be, a role model for other LE agencies.

Interestingly enough based on what "Asti" revealed about himself in his last couple of posts, I believe that he has been the one with the "ax to grind" all this time.

take care,

p.s. while we're including quotes in our comments, here's an appropriate one.

"We will never stop working for you."

Friday, April 28, 2006 9:54:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Mary,

I have seen you on your daily strolls around the east side, about five times or so the last couple of weeks. Each time I see you, you are wearing the same purple sweatshirt and blue jeans. Then I think to myself, I wonder if she wears the same pair of skid marked granny panties everyday..... Then following that thought, I throw up a little bit in my mouth.

Instead of spending so much time trying to find negative things about cops, why don't you try taking a shower and changing your clothes at least once a day!

B. Fife

Friday, April 28, 2006 6:25:00 PM  
Blogger Five Before Midnight said...

Dear B. Fife:

Thank you for your comments!

LOL. Interesting line of logic you are using in your comments.

Along that line, you could then conclude that over 200 police officers do not change their clothing or shower at least once a day because they wear the same outfit each day.

You could also assume that they have more than one similar appearing outfit, as many intelligent people well versed in critical thinking would conclude.

As for thinking about what panties women(and men for that matter) are wearing, I will not go there with my analogy because unlike you, I don't sit around, wonder what people are wearing underneath their clothing.

I was unaware that this was a popular past time of the department's male officers. How creepy! No wonder few women want to come to work at the RPD as officers and stay there if this behavior is what they can expect in lieu of professionalism. Even Bill Lockyer could not apparently stem the flow of sexist and sexual comments being made by male officers, although he did at least try, bless his little heart.

I'm so sorry to hear that you are suffering such terrible psychosomatic symptoms just from thinking about me. They sound so painful. Fortunately, there are licensed and trained professionals who can treat your regurgitation issue, along with several others that you have put on display here. I'm sure the department's mental health plan will suffice.

Look on the bright side. You might just be hung over from all your post-Stipulated Judgment celebrating. If that is the case, some ibuprofen and time will turn you right in no time.


Saturday, April 29, 2006 11:37:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Poor Mary.
I suggest a shower, shave and change of underwear.
It is obvious to me and many others that Mary what you need is a good " BANG "! (-:

Saturday, April 29, 2006 3:46:00 PM  
Blogger Five Before Midnight said...

Dear B. Fife:

Thank you for your comments, insights and suggestions.

You poor thing. You got flustered the last time we discussed sexism inside the police department if I recall correctly and resorted to posting sexual comments as your choice of defense mechanism. Well one of you did.

It is obvious to me and many others that what some individuals in this department need is a refresher course in the sexual harassment policy. I suggest you sign up for the first class as soon as possible. Showering and shaving before you attend is of course, optional.

After all, if you are making sexual comments on the internet, one can only imagine how you conduct yourself around women in your workplace! Maybe all the female cops have given you your own little nickname by now.

Unless of course B. Fife is that nickname. In that case, you are in a bit of trouble there.

My regards,

Saturday, April 29, 2006 5:31:00 PM  
Anonymous Native Daughter said...

Interesting. Here we have purported police officers, clamoring for the respect they think they deserve. And how do they express this wish for respect? By showing themselves to have no claim on it whatsoever. I'm sure their mothers tried to raise them to be decent respectable human beings. I'm sure they tried to teach them to treat women with respect. I'm sure they tried to teach them that it's wrong to harm the weak and vulnerable just because you can. What mother doesn't? But why should the people of Riverside have to pay for their mother's failings? Are there really so few people willing to do police work that they must hire and retain the dregs of humanity?

If the political will existed, such people could be rooted out of police departments, and better incentives could be created to attract those who truly want to spend their working lives protecting and serving their communities. Many such people are doing police work today, but it doesn't take many bad apples to spread rot throughout the barrel. Too many police officers today have no ties to the communities they're assigned to, and no empathy for or accountability to the people in them. And so they behave like an occupying colonial army, and wonder why so many the residents treat them as such.

Monday, May 01, 2006 8:24:00 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

Newer›  ‹Older