Five before Midnight

This site is dedicated to the continuous oversight of the Riverside(CA)Police Department, which was formerly overseen by the state attorney general. This blog will hopefully play that role being free of City Hall's micromanagement.
"The horror of that moment," the King went on, "I shall never, never forget." "You will though," the Queen said, "if you don't make a memorandum of it." --Lewis Carroll


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Location: RiverCity, Inland Empire

Monday, October 09, 2006

Another cloud on the horizon?

On the eve of the Riverside Police Department's first quarterly report on its implementation of the Strategic Plan to the city council, a fatal officer-involved shooting took place near Indiana and Detroit Streets.

Riverside police shoot, kill robbery suspect

The police department's version(subject to change):

The suspect, Douglas Steven Cloud, who was White and 27 years old, had gone to Home Depot at the intersection of Madison and Indiana Streets and had grabbed items on the shelves of the store. Several customers saw him and tried to stop him, which resulted in a struggle between them and him. Cloud fled the store, got into a silver Toyota Celica and drove off. At 4 p.m., he had struck a parked car and a palm tree at high speed, and around that time, police officers drove by in response to the original incident at Home Depot and saw the crashed vehicle. They recognized it as the one reported in connection with the incident and stopped.

After that, the description of events becomes more sparse. A "confrontation" took place between Cloud and the officers and "shots were fired", according to the department.

The original incident was handled as a robbery in progress, according to the department.

Witness accounts:

(excerpts, Press Enterprise, 8/8/06)

Ted Brown: He was in the office when the accident occurred. His boss ran to the car to render assistance to Cloud, after the car had crashed into a truck and palm tree at high speed.

"He was kind of dazed. You could tell. This guy was not physically able to do anything,"

Brown told a Press Enterprise reporter that he saw four officers approach the vehicle and then reach inside the driver's side window as if appearing to pull him out of the car, then one of them fired a shot. All four officers jumped back and then the same officer appeared to fire three more shots. He then put his gun back in his holster and looked around.

"He looked pretty pale after it all went down. I think he was kind of in shock, too."

Brown said he did not want to criticize the shooting but that it didn't appear "right" to him based on what he had witnessed. He appeared to wonder out loud if the officers could not have used different tactics, such as restraining him since four of them were present.

"I didn't see a gun. But I want to find out if there was a gun,"

Manny Dominguez: He was inside his Acura car dealership when he and his coworker heard a crash. They ran out to help and saw the events unfold.

"We ran over to the middle of the street and the cop cars showed up. They got out with their guns drawn. They told us to get back.
They told him to 'Get out of the car! Get out of the car!'

We didn't see him do anything. He was just kind of sitting there."

Sgt. Leon Phillips, currently serving on the department's Audit and Compliance Panel said in the Press Enterprise article that the department did not know if there was a weapon present or whether one or more officers fired their guns at Cloud and why.

As with all officer-involved shootings, the department has initiated a criminal inquiry conducted by detectives from its Crimes Against Persons unit which will eventually be forwarded to the Riverside County District Attorney's office. That office will determine whether or not criminal charges will be filed. The department's Internal Affairs Division will also conduct its own administrative review of the critical incident and will issue a finding on whether or not one or more officers violated departmental policy during the shooting.

The Community Police Review Commission will also likely begin its own investigation of the shooting, sending one of its investigators from the Baker Street Group to interview witnesses of the shooting within the next couple of days. The CPRC will also hear a briefing on the incident from the police department in the next couple of weeks. During this briefing, a departmental representative will provide a narrative on the shooting as far as it is known but will not receive or answer any questions from commissioners or members of the public. This change in procedure stems from complaints that the police department erred in its presentation of the Summer Lane shooting to the CPRC on Dec. 22, 2004.

The CPRC is still conducting its own investigation of the Lee Deante Brown shooting which occurred last April. Its investigator is still waiting for the department to provide a copy of its casebook but it has refused to do, even though it has said that its investigation was to be completed. The reason given for the delay is that the Riverside County District Attorney's office has elected to conduct its own separate probe of that shooting for the first time in its history. The FBI has apparently launched an inquiry into that shooting as well.

There is also a survey being conducted on the shooting here where readers can answer the question of whether or not they believe the shooting was excessive force or not and also submit comments.

Upon reading the witness accounts, particularly that by Brown, there are several things about this particular shooting that seem familiar.

The four officers approaching the vehicle, the reaching inside the vehicle, the shot fired, the four officers jumping back startled, then more shots fired and so forth. The officer, pale with shock, putting his gun back in his holster and looking around.

While it is true that Brown's account is one of perhaps many including those by the four involved officers, this shooting has caused phone calls this holiday morning already, with several callers seeing disturbing parallels to a shooting that at times seems so long ago, and at other times feels just like yesterday.


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