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

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Anatomy of a shooting: Joseph Darnell Hill

"I still don't believe there was any reason for Joe to die."

----Leslie Braden, Joseph Darnell Hill's sister.

"It could happen to anyone's family. It happened to my family, twice."

---Yvonne Hill, in reference to the officer-involved shooting death of Charles Hill by Riverside County Sheriff's Department deputies.

"Dr. McCormick reported that Hill sustained four gunshot wounds to his torso. The wounds included one on the right side of his chest near the armpit, one in the right portion of his upper chest, and two in his upper back. Dr. McCormick concluded the cause of death was due to gunshot wounds to the torso."

---Butch Warnberg, investigator Baker Street Group on Joseph Darnell Hill investigation briefing.

Anonymous said...

I Love It!!!!Mary, what are the odds that 2 "Brothas" would be shot by police under similar circumstances within a 15 year period? I can only imagine the amount of victims these two left in their in their wake over the years. I'd bet there's not enough Bath and Body candles to hold the amount of candle light vigils it would take to cover all of the people these two victimized over the years. But their "sista" can feel comfort in knowing that they are now in the hands of "Allah."

P.S. I like your new addition-the whole comment moderation thing. Nice touch for a self-proclaimed journalist/editor/advocate for free speech.

"We're a movin on up, to the East Side, to a deluxe apartment in the sky"---George Jefferson


One of Riverside's Finest

Oct. 26, 2006 at 10:47 p.m.

I know how the Darnell Hill shooting could have been prevented. His family could have turned him in after he committed that robbery of a local Riverside eatery several months ago. Oh, how come the family, who posted Stop Police Brutality signs during his vigil did not post "Stop Armed Robbery" banners? I wonder if Deputy Chief Dominguez extended his sympathies to the famalies of the officers who have been put in the unfortunate position of having to take another human life and of almost being seriuosly injured or killed themselves? I bet he hasn't. But can't say I'm surprised. Anyways, bye!

President of the Inland Empire Chapter of Accountability of Police Accountability Activists. I wanted to use "President of the League of Hot Female Cops" but I was afraid you might edit my comment.

(Oct. 27, 2006 at 4:35 p.m.)

Deceased: Joseph Darnell Hill, 33 African-American man from Riverside, California

Officers: Jeffry Adcox, Giovanni Ili

Date/Time of incident: Thursday, Oct. 19, 2006

Location: Near Arlanza, Riverside

Lawsuit filed? Yes.

The Community Police Review Commission received a report from its investigator, Butch Warnberg from the Baker Street Group on the Joseph Darnell Hill shooting while members of his family were in attendance. This briefing was made more than 18 months after the shooting occurred and unlike past briefings on other investigations, was very short.

He provided the following summary of events. It was a very brief report but then Warnberg's reports have gotten briefer since the city manager's office began contemplating hiring a variety of private investigation firms beginning in early 2007.

On Oct. 19, 2006 at about 10:17 a.m., Officer Jeffrey Adcox stopped Hill's vehicle at or near the intersection of Crest Avenue and Babb Vvenue. The officer approached the vehicle and talked with Hill obtaining his drivers license. Adcox activated his belt record (as required under policy 4.60) and returned to his car to call on the radio for assistance.

Officer Giovanni Ili soon arrived to assist Adcox. The officers approached the car and Adcox asked Hill to get out of the car which Hill did. Adcox conducted a brief pat down search of Hill's person for weapons. Adcox told Hill to sit on the curb with his legs in front of him. Hill did that but argued with the officers and said they were harassing him.

Adcox decided to put Hill in the backseat of his vehicle while the officers searched the car. Adcox told Hill to stand up and then put his hands behind his back. Hill did so and Adcox put his hand on Hill's fingers to control him while moving backward to the squad car. Hill said, "you're not going to arrest me" and pulled away. Hill spun around and put Adcox's neck in a headlock. Hill and Adcox fell to the ground in a clench. Ili also struggled and fell on the ground.

Hill made several attempts to grab Ili's handgun and was able to remove and gain control of ili's taser. Ili managed to grab it and pull the dart cartridge out during the fight. Although the cartridge was removed. The taser was activated for two seconds. Adcox ultimately fired four rounds from his gun, hitting Hill four times. Medical assistance was called and Hill was taken to Riverside Community Hospital where he died.

Warnberg took questions from the commissioners (and there were few) including one by Rotkers about Hill's criminal record which was stated in the report as follows.

"Hill had a documented criminal record with a conviction for assault in June 2006 in the city of Riverside. Hill was also alleged to have been in possession of marijuana during a warrant arrest in 2006 and alleged to have furnished alcohol to a minor resulting in an arrest of Corona of October 2006."

That was what was included and presumably taken from the police department's own investigative file although given that there's no citation for it, that is not clear. But what Rotker had addressed had something to do with an armed robbery at a fast food restaurant, possibly Der Weinerscnitzel, where the case was dropped. That part was puzzling because it's not mentioned in the report nor is it on record in the Riverside County Superior Court either. The only other mention of it that I'm aware of appears in the lovely posting cited above that was written one week after Hill's shooting written by the "President of the League of Hot Female Cops".

On the case of furnishing alcohol to a minor, the records show that Hill failed to show up at an arraignment in December 2006, two months after he was killed and a bench warrant was put out on him. The news of Hill's death apparently not reaching the courts yet.

The briefing was sparse and fairly simple about the events which led to Hill's death. What followed was neither of these things.

Because the CPRC had set up this really confusing agendizing system for the two officer-involved deaths, Acting Chair John Brandriff (substituting for the rarely seen anymore, Chair Brian Pearcy and Vice-Chair Sheri Corral) kept moving forward to the next agenda item before being reminded by Executive Manager Kevin Rogan that the commission hadn't taken public comment from the previous item. Most of the discussion in the past several meetings has been very difficult even to follow let alone understand and what comes across very strongly is that the commissioners don't seem to understand what they are doing or saying either. At least they don't come across that way. It makes you wonder about how they converse behind closed doors.

The procedure for hearing public comment on discussion agenda items has undergone quite a few changes in the past few months and it's getting harder to keep up. But that didn't really matter, because once again, there was a vote taken to change it once again.

The commission voted in the middle of the process while relatives of two individuals killed in officer-involved shootings watched, to change the process of public comment so that community members have to provide public comment before an agenda item is even outlined as to what it's about.

They did it while their chair and vice-chair were absent. They justified doing this by saying that any commissioner could do this and they didn't want to wait a whole month. Is it true that commissioners can make decisions about the process of chairing meetings while those who usually do so are absent? Yes, but it isn't really good form and it reeks of being some sort of power dynamic playing out on the dais, a dynamic that probably is most often out of the public's sight. Which is just as well because the public doesn't really care about political power plays and similar dynamics. A lot of us care about civilian review and oversight.

Unfortunately, given how much the public has seen some of those pushing the motion last night have clashed with those who were absent, that's the only way to read it. And that includes behind closed doors because when there's yelling or loud voices raised in the fifth floor large conference room at City Hall, you can hear them all the way to where the elevators are located. If not what is being said, certainly who is yelling it at that point in time.

As for waiting another month, why is it so pressing to push changes which impact and limit the community's ability to participate in discussions with the commission with any information about what is going on, yet when it comes to agenda items which impact community members in other ways besides restricting them, the commission can bump items up to six months or longer in the future through postponing them?

Essentially, putting the public in the position of having to speak before the agenda item is explained or laid out, is done to prevent community members from providing input in a meaningful way because as several people including Theresa Cloud said, how can you discuss an agenda item if you don't know what it really entails? That's the bottom line. If it's said to be done to expedite or even facilitate the process, that's not really the truth. Because how can either be accomplished by placing community members in the position of not being able to fully discuss or provide input on agenda items?

And it creates a huge disconnect between the community and the commission, but then what's becoming more and more clear is how the commission is isolating itself from community, even as it talks about doing further outreach. But maybe when the commission realizes that community members are every bit as much stake holders in the process as they are, as city staff members are, as police department officers are, then actions like these won't be taken without due consideration of the stake holders.

What the commission is showing is how effectively it can adopt strategies used by the city council to restrict public comment even those commissioners who say they are all for public participation. Because when Brandriff skipped from the Hill shooting to Cloud, there was silence on the dais even after he had just forgot or ignored the fact that several of Hill's family members had been waiting to speak until Rogan reminded him of that. Can you just imagine the uproar there would have been if Brandriff had inadvertently skipped over comments by a police representative? He probably would have been sent to the corner and left there for the rest of the meeting.

At least Rogan was paying attention to what wasn't going on.

If the chair and other commissioners can't even keep the agenda numbers of two different shooting investigations straight, how will they ever keep the two discussions separate in their minds? They had similar confusion with trying to keep discussion items for the Cloud shooting and the Lee Deante Brown shooting straight from one another at the last special meeting. They don't even seem to know what agenda item they are on most of the time, so how does that bode for being able to compartmentalize two separate shooting investigations? And why are they engaging in a process which it's clear few to none of them really understand? And why aren't copies of this new process made available for the public at each meeting discussing these shootings so the public has some idea what's taking place and what's being talked about on the dais?

Members of the public who attended the most recent meeting had a difficult time understanding what was going on because the process which the commissioners appear to barely understand themselves has never been explained to the public and the copies of the process which should be included with other information at the meetings haven't been made available to help facilitate the public's ability to track this process itself.

The commission complains and rightfully so that it doesn't like being presented with things like reports "cold" and then discussing them. Whether it matters or not, neither does the public! If allowing public comment after the presentation of an agenda item works for the city council, then it will probably work for the commission.

The new process for discussing officer-involved deaths is interesting to watch, but it's confusing to follow. You have individuals who weren't aware that they had to read the police department's own investigation file who are still catching up, you have people who've read trying to stop other people's "fact certification" questions from being forwarded and you have people who's minds are already made up and they're ready to argue and decide the case on the Cloud shooting whether anyone else is ready or not.

You have individuals fighting with each other and even making personal attacks or accusing others of doing so as in the case of the special meeting conducted earlier this month when individuals were accusing other individuals of saying or implying they were not professional. Then there were the subcommittee "serial" meetings where a majority of the commission would discuss issues on the agenda. Oh, it doesn't matter because those over the majority level aren't voting. But unfortunately to them, yes it does because the serial meetings provision of the state's "sunshine" law actually focus on what communications are allowed to take place among or between members of a Brown Act body much more so than the votes taken. And the ironic part of it, is that it's those who have prior commission experience who seem to have the most problems with the Brown Act.

A lot of egos (which isn't surprising because the political agendas of those sitting on the dais almost fill the entire room let alone the dais) expressed but not much in the way of interfacing with community members. It makes for compelling drama but to those in the audience, it just looks very dysfunctional.

The big standoff and smack down this time was between Brandriff and Commissioner Ken Rotker, when Brandriff essentially shut him off during one agenda item. Next meeting, it will just be someone else.

But for all the pandering and showdowns, any discussion of officer-involved deaths is academic because it's been two years and all the decisions made in accordance with state laws on these cases have been made and the books have been shut closed.

However, the dynamics of commissioner interactions with the public compared to police representatives is always interesting and is apparently more prevalent in Riverside than in other cities with civilian review because in part of the high concentration of commissioners with police backgrounds or connections with either the city council members who appointed them or the police department. When I discuss civilian review with people from other cities, they are puzzled at how Riverside's commission became so top-heavy with law enforcement representation. In some other cities for example, there's designated representation meaning a quota for selecting people from different backgrounds including law enforcement.

The one question that is asked in Riverside and elsewhere about the CPRC is this: Where are its community members? '

Good question. The answer is a long one.

Take a typical meeting when relatives of people who were shot and killed by police. How many commissioners even acknowledge that these individuals are even here? How many of them introduce themselves? How many of them even say, "hi" to them? Most of them walk by and pretend they're not even there. If you ask them why, they might say it's part of being impartial but then this is five minutes after they've walked in laughing and joking with one of the police department's representatives. That might seem natural to them given their ties to law enforcement and their collective lack of problems with them, but one comment that keeps being said by community members who attend one meeting and never return is that there's no separation between the department and the commission because there's not even a sentiment that the commissioners feel they even have to appear neutral given the differential ways they treat different people at meetings.

These interactions, the chats, the laughing might seen incidental to the commissioners as they probably are to the police representatives as well but they make a very strong and very negative impression on community members attending meetings that there's bias at work. And it would be interesting indeed if the commissioners were half as concerned about the perception of bias that they radiate towards police that they are of any perceived inkling of bias against them. The community doesn't receive that same consideration.

When I run into people who attend the meetings and ask them why they don't return, they say the police and the commissioners are on the same side and the public is on the outside. After all, they have said, look how chummy they are and I attended and no commissioner even introduced themselves to me or explained the process. How can we trust the decisions that they make if they don't know us? How could they ever be critical of people they are so friendly with in public when they don't communicate that way with community members?

This past meeting, about one or two out of nine of the commissioners might come up and introduce themselves after the meeting is finished. Usually after the police representatives have gone.

On the other hand, how many commissioners always greet or are seen chatting with police representatives either while arriving at meetings or at meetings? How many people are doing so while walking right past these family members as if they weren't there? And that leaves an impression on these individuals that right from the start, there's an inequality present. But the families in these most recent cases have filed active lawsuits and in the Cloud case, there was a push in that effort to institute real change in how the department does better with the hiring and training of its officers. And it's actions like those which are focused on doing so rather than placating law enforcement officers that might make the real difference in civilian accountability. How much so remains to be seen.

The Hill case is undergoing Stage II of its fact certification process or whatever they called it this week while discussion focuses on the officer-involved shooting of Douglas Steven Cloud. That discussion was very difficult to follow as well, especially since the two shootings were grouped under the same agenda item number. What's the problem with giving each investigative process its own agenda item number? Apparently, there's a huge one because they've been crammed under a single agenda item number for several meetings. But then maybe at the next meeting, there will be a whole different set of rules to follow. It's kind of like the Mad Hatter's Tea Party where his guests sit in one seat for a while and then everyone's ordered to stand up and move to the next one. The whole meeting is spent getting up and moving to the next spot.

Imagine doing that for several hours and that's what you have. Civilian oversight in Riverside, seven years later. What will it look like seven years from now?

Mayor Ron Loveridge's blue ribbon panel on the expansion and renovation of the downtown library and museum met for the last time.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Wednesday's meeting at City Hall was the sixth time the task force gathered since starting in mid-April. Its most recent meeting was a June 18 public hearing during which the panel only took comments from residents.

The city was previously planning to build a $25 million project in front of the library that would include expansion space for the library and space for the museum to host high-quality traveling exhibits, which the museum cannot now do.

But many people said the city proposal would shortchange both institutions.

The outcry led Mayor Ron Loveridge and the council to appoint the task force to study the issue and come up with recommendations.

The task force was told not to make recommendations on the architectural design of the expansions.

The library board on Monday endorsed the task force's draft principles.

Important future dates for this process include the following.

The Metropolitan Museum Board will meet on July 8 at 4 p.m. at the downtown museum. The city council will hear the recommendations by the panel on Aug. 12 at 6:30 p.m. during its weekly meeting.

Why Greyhound is not a pariah in Temecula. So maybe if that's the case then Councilman Steve Adams can shuttle Riversiders to the station down there.

As for Greyhound in Riverside, the Press Enterprise Editorial Board wants to keep it there.

Former Riverside County Sheriff Bob Doyle gets to keep his political appointment on the parole board.

Local counties seek more money for grade separations.

If you think it's been smoggier this year in the Inland Empire, it's not just your imagination.

The lawsuit filed against the Los Angeles Police Department's "Special Order 40" became history after a county judge tossed it out.

The New York Times Editorial Board continues its discussion on tasers.


If more Tasers are deployed in New York City, strict conditions would have to be imposed on who could use them and under what circumstances. They might make sense as a last-resort alternative to lethal force, but it would be folly to allow them to be used in more routine situations like crowd control or policing political demonstrations. Nor should they be seen as the full answer to the problem of police shootings.

The RAND report suggested beginning with a pilot program in a few precincts. Mr. Kelly should give the matter the most careful study before taking even this limited first step.

A police officer in Florida got in trouble for impersonating a federal agent purportedly investigating corruption in his own police department.

(excerpt, Florida Keys Keynoter)

On May 29, Capt. Frank Sauer wrote his finding of facts on the Neary case, stating "there is a preponderance of evidence that officer Thomas Neary did represent himself falsely as: an agent, associate, representative or operative of the federal government...."

Sauer's findings also stated that Neary, a Big Pine Key resident, convinced fellow and former officers and a supervisor that "this information was to be kept confidential between him and the witness officers."

For those reasons and others, Neary's behavior was deemed "unbecoming conduct" but not "unlawful conduct."

The letter also states that Neary's attorney, Michael Barnes, sent a list of "an additional 112 witnesses that he now wanted to be interviewed, including Officer Neary." Barnes has refused to discuss the case with the Keynoter.

The Neary investigation even involved bugging Lt. Kathleen Ream's office to record conversations she had with him. Transcripts from the bugging show some statements that indicate Neary told Ream he and his wife are federal agents. Barnes has questioned the validity of those transcripts, saying the department altered them.

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