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

Friday, November 10, 2006

Here and there

The city manager's office has apparently taken yet another strike against the Community Police Review Commission which has had very little breathing space since last year's sustained finding in the Summer Lane shooting case.

City manager bars CPRC executive director from meetings

Commissioner Brian Pearcy explained at a Wednesday outreach committee meeting that he spoke with Assistant City Manager Tom DeSantis to discuss the issue. DeSantis has instructed Payne to leave outreach efforts to the commissioners, Pearcy said. One concern was that Payne might not be attending a sufficiently broad spectrum of meetings, he added.

Payne said that is inaccurate. But, he said, if he has overlooked some groups they should try to expand his outreach efforts, not shut them down completely.

The fabulous Dan Bernstein chimed in here on the issue, taking the city to task for this latest action.


Who are the brain surgeons who have severed a vital connection between this voter-approved commission and ordinary citizens? The usual suspects. Assistant City Manager Tom DeSantis, who doesn't even burp without the written consent of his boss, Brad Hudson. These guys don't even go to community meetings unless their concealed weapons are tucked under their armpits. And they're worried about creating appearances?

As usual, DeSantis was unavailable for comment, but he's also been scarce in public in the last several weeks, perhaps still recovering from his alleged removal from the labor negotiation process involving several city employee bargaining units and unions a month ago.

Commissioners and community members discussed this issue at the CPRC's community outreach meeting on Nov. 8, two weeks after this topic had been placed on the agenda at the CPRC's October general meeting. Several commissioners at that meeting, including Pearcy and Chair Les Davidson expressed reluctance to hear comments from concerned community members because they said that they were not privy to the situation and had not been informed.

After protests from several people who attended the meeting, the commission finally voted to hear from the public on the pulled agenda item, as DeSantis sat in the audience and listened to people talk.

Commissioners continued to express the importance of the role of executive director in outreach, a job responsibility which is included in the current job description. Dr. Pedro Payne has done an outstanding job as executive director in all areas including outreach, convincing even this initial skeptic that he was more than up to the task.

Commissioner Bonavita Quinto-MacCallum said she was displeased that Wednesday was the first she had heard of the change. She said she was concerned because Payne has served as the commission's key representative to the community.

Quinto-MacCallum and Pearcy both said they were concerned that the commissioners -- who have full-time jobs -- would not be able to devote the amount of time to outreach efforts that Payne has.

"I believe very strongly that our executive director must be out in the community," Quinto-MacCallum said

That's a sentiment that many community members agreed with in their comments, as they keep close tabs on this continuing situation. In other news, the CRPC is also being sued along with the city of Riverside, by Officer Ryan Wilson. The city has claimed that the commission is being erroneously sued by Wilson, who through his litigation is asking the court to either order the city to compel the CPRC to nullify its sustained finding against him on the Summer Lane shooting or to grant him an administrative hearing.

The city's brief in opposition is due in mid November, according to court records.

The commission also lost one of its members, Frank Arreola who resigned last month for unknown reasons.

As for city manager, Brad Hudson, life is never dull at City Hall now with him at the helm, what with a city employee siphoning funding from the construction of the new police station on Magnolia Avenue to landscape his own home. No wonder it took so long for that station to finally be finished. It was probably due to lack of available funds.

Police looking for city employee

If you ever need some subsidized office space for your business, just contact City Hall and someone there may give you a nice tour of its basement, where apparently at least one private business has been housed. This situation led to a complaint filed with the county grand jury and is currently being investigated.

Bargain basement deal is probed

Then there are complaints to the state's Fair Employment and Housing Commission about discriminatory practices against people of color employed in City Hall and strike votes, litigation and rallies by city employees during one of the most turbulent labor negotiation periods in recent memory.

It seems like with all these issues, not to mention breathing more air to inflate the Riverside Renaissance project and seizing many of the small businesses downtown though eminent domain, that Hudson and his sidekick should have little available time to make life more difficult for the CPRC. But apparently they do their best, with what they have with the apparent blessing of the entire city council.

Another day, another videotaped incident involving Los Angeles Police Department officers who are being investigated for using excessive force against another man of color. In this incident, two officers were arresting William Cardenas last Aug. 11, an action video taped and posted on the internet. The Los Angeles Times wrote an article on the incident in question.

LAPD, FBI investigate violent incident on video


The video of the Aug. 11 arrest in Hollywood shows an officer sitting on 23-year-old William Cardenas as a second officer places his knee on the man's neck and punches him six times. Cardenas is lying on his back, waving his arms and yelling, "I can't breathe!" Cardenas' attorney, B. Kwaku Duren, said his client was treated at a hospital for black eyes, a split lip and facial bruises.

Cardenas is being prosecuted for resisting arrest, and currently, the two officers, Alexander Schlegel and Patrick Farrell are assigned to desk duty. The FBI launched a probe into the incident after the video surfaced on a YouTube Web site.

Chief William Bratton said that he found the video disturbing but that it only portrayed part of the incident.

"It is very graphic video," Bratton said Thursday. "But as to whether the actions of the officers were appropriate in light of what they were experiencing and the totality of the circumstances is what the investigation will determine."Bratton added, "It is quite clear while struggling, one of the officers struck the individual in the face but that is not life-threatening."

So, why the force used may or may have not been excessive, it wasn't lethal. Gotcha, Bratton.

He also addressed the latest video-taped incident in the LAPD's official online blog.

On CBS news, a lawyer for the two officer defended their actions, which included Farrell punching Cardenas numerous times in the face.

Gary Ingumenson, a lawyer advocating for the officers, says they were within the bounds of LAPD policy as they apparently used "distraction strikes" a tactic for subduing suspects who have refused to surrender.

CBS: FBI probe into videotaped incident

Apparently, there are quite a few video cameras operating in Los Angeles and more than a few of them are aimed at the LAPD, even as that department is in the process of purchasing video recorders to place in its squad cars. Several months ago, the agency had its federal consent decree extended by a judge for at least two more years. Now, one of the arms of that agency is once again investigating the LAPD.


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