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

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Shades of Diallo: the main characters

The New York Police Department has begun to circle its wagons, even as its commissioner, Raymond Kelly admits that there were likely policy violations committed by five of his officers when they opened fire on three unarmed Black men in a car, according to statements he made in today's edition of the New York Daily News.

In a flash, a tragic turn

Kelly said NYPD rules prohibit cops from shooting at a car, even when it's being used as a weapon. He also said this appears to be a case of "contagious fire."

"We stress, when officers go to the range, that they fire no more than three rounds," he said. "And, then, they look."

Mayor Michael Bloomberg continues to hold meetings with the family of Sean Bell, 23, who was killed during the Nov. 25 incident and community leaders.

It's hard for me to understand why 50-odd shots were taken," Bloomberg said at the City Hall news conference, where he stood alongside several black elected officials. "To me that sounds like excessive force."

In strong disagreement with both of these men was the president of the Detectives' Endowment Association, Michael Palladino, who represents one of the five officers involved in the shooting. In the same article, he said that the shooting was justified because Bell was using his vehicle as a "deadly weapon". It doesn't seem like Palladino, who told CNN that he did not believe that the number of bullets fired was "excessive", is no less quick to rush to judgement than anyone else.

If the driver of the vehicle had responded to the detective's command this would not have happened," he said. "He would be a married man today."

What remains under dispute is who first identified themselves as police officers and when this was done. "Sources" from the department maintained that the undercover officer identified himself before he fired his weapon. Yet, the department has also admitted that so far it has found no witnesses who saw this officer actually do so. It has only interviewed the two officers at the scene who did not fire their weapons because it has no access to speak with those who did shoot. One of the officers it did interview was more than a block away at the time of the shooting; the other was Lt. Jerry Napoli who had ducked for cover beneath the dashboard of his vehicle while all the shooting was going on around him.

Besides Napoli, two other officers, both White, were identified as Det. Mike Oliver, the 12 year veteran who fired 31 shots and Officer Mike Carey who fired three times. Two Black officers and one Latino officer remain unidentified.

The New York Times did publish an article which provided further information on the backgrounds of the involved officers.

No shots fired for years, then 50 all at once


The male undercover officer is 28, a six-year veteran. He fired the first shots after confronting the men and being hit by their car. An acquaintance of the officer said yesterday that Saturday’s shooting had left him “ a little shaky,” adding, “He was upset.”

The officer grew up in Brooklyn, is single and lives with his mother, the acquaintance said. He has only 50 or 60 arrests because he has been undercover for most of his career, the acquaintance said. The number is low because undercover officers are not usually credited with arrests and, in fact, are expected to leave the scene before other officers make arrests, to protect their cover. He has one citation for meritorious police duty.

“He feels very bad for the family of the deceased,” the acquaintance said. “He feels badly that this had to come to this. He sincerely, sincerely felt that he was in mortal danger. He’s never fired his gun before and he hopes he will never fire it again.”

He fired a total of 11 shots as the other officers also fired.

All five officers have waived their immunity and agreed to testify in front of a grand jury. The Queens' District Attorney's office is handling the case.

Prosecutors received the Police Department’s preliminary report yesterday, which the person said raised as many questions as it answered, adding, “We’ve just begun to scratch the surface.”

The United States Department of Justice is also monitoring the situation as Councilman James Sanders, Jr. warns of possible unrest here.

"The temperature on the streets has increased to a large degree. While we are sitting in these meetings, a lot of people are out on the streets."

The police officers apparently believed the three men were hoods out to harm them. The three men apparently believed the officers were hoods out to harm them, as one of the wounded men apparently told others after he had been shot. Bloomberg believed that race had nothing to do with it, but from what is unfolding, it appears very much otherwise.

Here are some commentaries from the blogsphere.

bloggers speak on NYPD shooting

girl blue wrote that even with all the community leaders showing up, the real issues underlying these shootings goes unaddressed.


As usual some writers who think racism is a figment of our imagination resent the fact that Sharpton is making the shooting a "racial issue." But when is the last time you've read about an unarmed white man being gunned down by the police like a rabid animal???

At NYPD Confidential which claims to be an "inside" look at the NYPD, its author writes about how Commissioner Raymond Kelly will fare in comparison with prior commissioners who have been in his shoes. He said that Kelly had changed his tactics when dealing with officer-involved shootings since one that occurred several years ago.

Kelly’s critics say that when there’s good news he takes all credit. When it’s bad, he shares responsibility. For this news conference he mustered as many of his top brass as he apparently could find to stand silently behind him. Some haven’t been seen in years, such as First Deputy George Grasso, whom Kelly pulled from the crypt.

The folks at debate politics argue that the three men are "thugs" who ran over a police officer. Garvey's Ghost argued that it was the officers who committed the crimes. Bloggers debate the issue here as well.

Here, in Riverside, the city council received advice from its attorneys in closed session on how to proceed in litigating two law suits and three claims for damages that have been filed against the city, in relation to four officer-involved deaths. No doubt, the attorneys will be told to fight the law suits, deny the claims, business as usual even though facing all this litigation hasn't been business as usual for the past several years. The city council will probably forget what discussion took place the minute it leaves the boardroom to return to addressing its favorite subject, development issues which today include the construction of yet more high-density housing in the La Sierra area of the city.

The city council will probably not realize that at least two of the incustody deaths, Terry Rabb and Lee Deante Brown, involved individuals who were either mentally ill or medically ill. They also will not realize that many cities and counties across this country provide training for police officers including the creation of crisis intervention teams but Riverside is not one of them.

When asked about the possibility of the Riverside Police Department implementing its own crisis intervention team or any type of mental health training program, the city council members rolled their eyes, sighed and sat back in their chairs, waiting for public comment to be over so they could return to discussing their favorite topic. Only Councilman Andrew Melendrez, whose ward includes the block where Brown was killed in a motel parking lot, has expressed any interest at all and he had raised the issue on Oct. 10 when the police department gave its first "quarterly" report.

Perhaps after a few more closed sessions are held to discuss the current flurry of civil litigation as well as any future law suits or claims that come down the pike, the interest level will increase accordingly.

From inside the department, there has been no real update on the department's plans for creating mental health training for its officers, from the new personnel and training captain, Michael Blakely. Hopefully, he's just too busy working on it to be talking about it.


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