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, November 09, 2006

Brown: Who said what?

The Community Police Review Commission has begun the process of discussion and review of its investigation into the Lee Deante Brown shooting, but it is clear from what was disclosed last night, that a lot of investigative work still lies ahead.

Butch Warnberg, from the Baker Group, presented part 1 of his investigation into this shooting. Part 2, which includes a reenactment of the shooting will be presented in January, a decision made last night which no doubt means that this will be the third recent officer-involved death which commissioners will race against the clock to get the process done and a finding reached before the statutory deadline. State law requires that law enforcement officers be disciplined for any sustained misconduct within a year of the date the incident occurred.

Recent cases that have approached or passed that deadline.

Summer Marie Lane:

Shot and killed: Dec. 6, 2004

CPRC finding: Nov. 9, 2005

Reason for delay: CPRC investigation was completed March 2005 and the department's officer-involved death investigation was completed a month later. The delay was attributed to the appointment of two new commissioners who needed to be brought up to speed on the process before the case was discussed in September 2005

Terry Rabb:

Died: Oct. 2, 2005

CPRC finding: Oct. 25, 2006

Reason for delay: The department's OID investigation took until May 2006 to be provided to the CPRC. The Internal Affair Division's administrative review was not completed and forwarded to the CPRC until the middle of July 2006.

Lee Deante Brown:

Shot and killed: April 3, 2006

CPRC finding: TBA

Reason for delay: The department's OID investigation came to the CPRC last month. There are at least three separate criminal probes into this shooting. The CPRC investigation is still ongoing and the next briefing will not be until at least the middle of January 2007.

The briefings on both the Brown shooting and the Oct. 19 shooting of Joseph Darnell Hill were attended by community members including relatives of Brown and Hill as well as members of the Riverside Coalition for Police Accountability. Also in attendance were Capt. Pete Esquival who is the liaison between the commission and Chief Russ Leach's office and Riverside Police Officers Association president Ken Tutwiler, this time without the union's attorney. Capt. Jim Cannon who gave the initial briefing on the Hill shooting stayed for the Brown briefing.

Assistant City Attorney Susan Wilson also attended, as she has attended all CPRC meetings addressing incustody deaths currently being litigated by the city.

Part of Warnberg's presentation included an interesting analysis of the statements made by Officers Terry Ellefson and Paul Stucker as well as those made by police investigators and by Cannon at the department's initial briefing on the Brown shooting last April 12. Readily apparent are the discrepancies between the various versions of events by key players during key moments of the shooting incident.

What was happening when shots were fired?

Officer Paul Stucker:

"...and I pull out my extendable baton, extend it, and I hit the suspect on the lower part of the leg, below the knee, twice. And as I'm preparing to do it again, I hear two gunshots."

Officer Terry Ellefson:

"...and as I moved away, the suspect stood-kind of pushed forward and lunged toward directly at me with the taser."..."As I was pushing away, I saw that he was bringing the taser towards me. And I drew my duty weapon and fired two shots towards his center body mass."

Sgt. Kittinger:

"Officer Ellefson told me he fired two rounds in a downward direction."

Sgt. R. Shubert:

"Officer Ellefson advised me he had fired two rounds in a southern direction and the trajectory was downward."

Capt. Cannon:

"Mr. Brown was now in a squatting position, started to stand up and advance towards Officer Ellefson."

In what position was Brown shot?


"He was either squatting or sitting on his butt with his legs in front of him."


"...the suspect stood...lunged forward at me with the taser."


"...Officer Ellefson, who was backing away from the advancing Mr. Brown discharged two rounds..."

Who was Brown pointing the taser towards?

Det. Medici: "Pointing the taser at you?"

Stucker: "Yes."


"...I saw that he was bringing the taser towards me. And I drew my duty weapon and fired two shots."


"Fearing for their safety because the power indicator light for the taser was on, Officer Stucker hit Mr. Brown with his expandable baton."

Brown's position after he got shot:

Medici: "...And then right after he's hit, does he remain on the ground?"

Stucker: "Yes, he remained --remained on the ground, fell forward and with his back to--to where Terry and I were standing."

Det. Cobb: "The suspect is--still got the taser in his hand. Are you...and/or Officer Stucker still giving commands to him?"

Ellefson: "...I'm--I was giving commands for the suspect to get on the ground."

Officer Anderson: "...I arrived and saw that Officer Ellefson and Officer Stucker had their duty weapons drawn and were giving verbal commands to a subject that was laying on the ground in front of them."

Confused? You wouldn't be the only one.

The investigation into the Brown shooting continues but already it's apparent that there are serious problems involved in trying to sift through the multiple versions provided by the witnesses, the officers, their supervisors and Cannon's briefing given last spring. Not to mention the different versions of events that Ellefson shared with an unknown officer while being recorded by his own equipment, similar accounts reported by two different supervising sergeants and the different statements made in his interview with Det. Medici and Det. Cobb.

Hopefully with further investigation, a definitive chain of events that led up to and included the shooting can be reached and the multitude of questions that arise each time this troublesome incident comes up for an airing will some day be outnumbered by answers provided. Then it may be time to start dealing with the substantive issues of this case, like how should police officers be trained to interact with the mentally ill, including paranoid schizophrenics like Brown.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where's my post. It was an interesting question and point. Why are you choosing what gets posted now? What are you scared of?

Sunday, November 12, 2006 8:02:00 PM  
Blogger Five Before Midnight said...

Dear Anonymous:

LOL, you're funny. Oh wait, perhaps I rejected a post about how many times you've belched or scratched your belly at a restaurant table before the hostess asked you to leave. It really wasn't on topic as this is not an advice column.

Was that your post? I'm so sorry about that. Why don't you try to rewrite it? That is, if you can still capture the essential elements of what you stated?

Perhaps. Perhaps not. LOL.

Of course, you can get your bud to do it for you.

Have a nice belch-free evening,

Sunday, November 12, 2006 8:39:00 PM  

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