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, October 19, 2006

Another Fatal Officer Involved Shooting

Over 40 city residents and two plainclothed police officers attended a forum addressing what many people thought was the most recent officer-involved shooting in Riverside, that of Douglas Steven Cloud which occurred on Oct. 8. Unfortunately, by the time the 7 p.m meeting was held, that was no longer true. Earlier in the day, the department's third fatal officer-involved shooting in 6 1/2 months and its second in nine days occurred in the area where La Sierra borders Arlanza.

That individual was later identified as Joseph Darnell Hill, 34 from Riverside. The officers can only be referred to as Officer A and Officer B in deference to the recently released California State Supreme Court case, Copley vs Superior Court, which prohibited the release of the names of officers involved in onduty shootings. There is no information available on how many years they had been with the department or if they were hired out of academies or from other law enforcement agencies. It also can not be revealed whether or not these officers had been involved in prior officer-involved shootings.

The short term impact of this court decision is acute, and the city of Riverside is one of the grounds where it has put on display twice, in nine days. The long-term effect of the Copley decision remains to be seen and is probably at least a decade away from being keenly felt by those who live in communities where these shootings take place, and those who work in law enforcement.

Video: Riverside police respond to shooting

(scroll down to bottom of page)

Details are sketchy at this point, but a woman who attended the forum said she had listened to the incident play out on her personal scanner. There had been either a traffic stop and/or a short pursuit. The man fled the car and two officers pursued him on foot. There was a struggle and at least one of those officers shot him a short while later. He died after being transported to Parkview Hospital.

According to video footage placed on its Web site by the Press Enterprise, a woman who is Spanish speaking is providing an account of what she eyewitnessed, which is translated into English. She said that a man got out of the car and struggled with two officers, both of whom shot him.

It is not known if the man was armed. Several individuals said that they had heard that one of the officers had at some point lost control of his department issued taser, and something happened which led his backup officer to shoot the man. It would be the second fatal incident this year where an officer allegedly lost control of his taser before shots were fired. The first, being the shooting of Lee Deante Brown in April.

Still, the city's residents must wait until the police department produces an initial version of events. The Community Police Review Commission will dispatch its own investigator as is customary in officer-involved deaths, to conduct an independent investigator.

The two male White police officers who attended sat for a while a few rows in front of the organ at the church, before leaving together. Ironically, the police department including Chief Russ Leach had been issued a formal invitation to either attend or to send official representatives but had declined to do so.

Most of the community leaders waited until after the two young men who were so obviously uncomfortable and out of place had left before speaking about how they felt about the two most recent shootings involving officers from the police department. Many of the same feelings that washed over the room were eerily similar to those that flooded community meetings held after prior shootings in the late 1990s.

Community holds forum after Cloud shooting

By the evening, the latest shooting was all over the television news broadcasts and the next morning, in different newspapers in Southern California.

Traffic stop ends in death

Man shot by officers identified

Man shot after assaulting officer

Man's identity revealed after shooting

On Oct. 20, the Riverside updated its information through a press release.

RPD update

Riverside, Ca- On Thursday, October 19, 2006, at approximately 10:15 a.m, Riverside Police Officers conducted a traffic enforcement stop in the 5800-block of Babb Avenue, near the corner with Crest Avenue, on a motorist who had made an illegal U-turn and had failed to stop at a stop sign.

During the enforcement stop, the suspect driver became belligerent with the officers. The incident escalated when the suspect physically attacked the officers. During the violent struggle the suspect and the officers fell to the ground. Once on the ground the suspect grabbed an officer's gun and tried to pull it from the holster. As the officer fought to maintain his handgun the suspect grabbed the officer's taser and pulled it from its holster. The suspect pointed the taser at the officer. Fearing for the safety of the partner officer, the second officer discharged his duty weapon striking and killing the suspect.

Medical aid was summoned. The suspect was transported to Parkview Community Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 11:15 a.m. The Riverside County Coroner identified the deceased suspect as Joseph Darnell HILL, 34, of Riverside.
The investigation is on going and anyone with information about the incident is asked to call Riverside Police Detective Mike Medici at (951) 353-7104 or Detective James Brandt at (951) 353-7137.

The Community Police Review Commission, as is customary, soon dispatched its own investigator from the Baker Street Group to conduct its investigation of the shooting. The police department will send representatives to brief the commissioners on details in relation to the Hill shooting some time in the next several weeks. Next week, the police department will of course be briefing the CPRC on its investigation into the Cloud shooting, which is also under investigation by the CPRC.

Perusal, the police department will not be taking questions from either the commissioners nor the community. But that will not stop those questions forming in the minds of those who have been following events of the past nine days. Questions that no doubt will need to be addressed in the ongoing investigations in upcoming months as well.


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