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, December 29, 2006

No drought in sight

It might not be raining in Riverside yet, but drops of a different form have fallen on different parts of the country this past week.

Not too long after Riverside County Sheriff Bob Doyle fired Assistant Sheriff Stan Sniff, some allege because Sniff planned to run for the top spot in 2010, a sheriff of another law enforcement agency demotes an employee who had already ran for election against him and transfers him to what is akin to Siberia in that agency.

Letters were written to the Press Enterprise forum protesting Sniff's firing.

Los Angeles Times columnist Dana Parsons shares an opinion on this latest development in Southern California politics involving Orange County Sheriff Michael Carona.

Carona demotes his political rival


Carona and his backers (you see what happens when you don't back him) have said he has every right to demote a subordinate who said such mean things during the campaign.

I've read the legal arguments that support post-election demotions or terminations for public officials, and Carona's legal advisors say they apply here.At best, it's debatable. But that's not even the point.

The issue isn't whether Carona has the right to treat Hunt like a 15th century heretic.

It's whether he should.

Hasn't anyone who holds these elected positions in law enforcement ever heard the adage, keep your friends close and your enemies closer? On second hand, at least one police chief closer to home practiced that adage and suffice it to say, it didn't work out very well. He lasted what, three years? Lesson learned, make sure everyone is your friend.

Are sheriffs who fire or demote their political rivals just cleaning house or are they protecting political dynasties where elections will instead be coronations as one "retiring" sheriff hands his sceptor off to the next in line?

Parsons rips Carona apart, calling the preemptive strike made by him against underling Bill Hunt a lesson taken from the Bible.


You remember Mike Carona, right? The nice guy who ran for reelection without opposition in 2002?

The guy who made no secret of his religious faith before and after asking for our votes?

Well, this year he gave Bill Hunt a Christmas gift and an Old Testament reminder:

Vengeance is mine(italics, Parsons')


All the way in Malaysia, people are reading about the latest news out of the beleagured New Orleans Police Department which is that seven of its police officers have been indicted by a criminal grand jury on murder and attempted murder charges in connection with shooting incidents that happened after Hurricane Katrina shut down the city in 2005.

Accounts of the shootings which took place on a bridge on Sept. 4, 2005 conflict. Police officers called it a shootout, while civilians trapped in the city called it a "police ambush". Apparently, the grand jury and district attorney in New Orleans agreed with them.

Seven New Orleans Police Department officers indicted by grand jury

As it turns out, one of the police officers now under indictment had faced similar criminal charges before in relation to a fatal incident in 2001. At that time, Kenneth Bowen who is currently a sergeant was charged with murder but the case was dismissed. The city paid out $12,500 to the family of the man in connection with a law suit that was filed.

Now, 5 years later Bowen, along with Sgt. Robert Gisevius, Anthony Villaviso and former officer Robert Faulcon have been charged with first degree murder. Facing attempted murder charges are officers, Robert Barrios, Mike Hunter and Ignatius Hills.

One of those killed by the police officers was a 40-year-old Black mentally disabled man, Ronald Madison. Officers said he was shot and killed after he allegedly reached for a gun, but the autopsy report showed that he was shot seven times, including five times in the back.

District Attorney Eddie Jordan's words were unusually harsh for a county prosecutor when it comes to describing the alleged conduct or rather misconduct of police officers that are usually their bread and butter on other cases prosecuted.


"We cannot allow our police officers to shoot and kill our citizens without justification like rabid dogs," New Orleans District Attorney Eddie Jordan said in a statement.

"The rules governing lethal force are not suspended in an emergency. Everyone, including police, must abide by the law of the land."

The use of "rabid dogs" was an interesting choice of words given that more locally, when the Press Enterprise ran a poll on the officer-involved shooting of Douglas Steven Cloud, one visitor there compared Cloud to a "rabid dog" that had to be put down by the side of the road for his own good in his or her comments.

The New Orleans Police Department was heavily criticized for its handling of the hurricane, after over 15% of the officers did not show up for work and others were caught on video tape engaging in looting. Many officers did work very hard during the hurricane and afterwards even when their supervisors had left the city high but not dry, but this case was not the first one taken before the criminal grand jury and it probably won't be the last.

This police department also has a long history of corruption in its ranks, what with police officers being indicted by federal prosecutors for killing other police officers and having been placed under a federal consent decree by the Justice Department. If it's experiencing serious problems with its operations, then a natural disaster will exacerbate those problems and any others not uncovered in pattern and practices investigations.

NOLA View, a blog, has written about other arrests of New Orleans Police Department officers including Kelvin Jackson who was caught on surveillance video putting stolen merchandise in his vehicle. Human Rights Watch also did an analysis of this police department's Internal Affairs Division here. Not a very pretty read indeed.

More information:

Yahoo: Cop in Katrina shooting had prior charges

San Diego Tribune: Seven officers indicted

CNN: Ronald Madison shot in the back as he fled officers

CNN: Autopsy shows that police shot mentally disabled man in the back

NPR: What happened on Danziger bridge?

Back in Riverside,

(Excerpt from deposition in relation to the Dec. 28, 1998 shooting of Tyisha Miller)

Attorney Brian Dunn:

"Based on your training and experience as a police officer, is it not customary for the highest ranking officer to lead the other officers that are present in his presence in connection to a response to a subject incident?"

Gregory Preece:



"Why not?"


"Well, we're supervisors but just because you are a supervisor doesn't mean you have all the answers and all the tactical skills. There were a lot of officers that I had superised that had much more tactical experience than I had and I was never one--I was never a supervisor that believed because I held a rank that I was going to impose what I felt was right because there are different ways to handle the situation. If I felt that, didn't mean I always agreed with the way the situation was handled, but it doesn't mean it was a violation of policy, procedure or law. I didn't always intervene. "


"Did you agree with the way the situation was handled when you arrived?"


"For the short period of time, yes, that I was there."


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