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, July 18, 2008

Canary in the Mine: The commission that couldn't?

This week's city council meeting on July 22 at 6:30 p.m. brings up this duo of issues on the discussion calendar. The proposed rate structure for sewer fees hikes and Operation: Reelection. Both will be discussed here more in detail before the meeting this Tuesday.

Hats off to the people who are fighting against the development of a medical building on top of what used to be Chinatown. They won a 30 day extension from the Riverside Planning Commission to prove their case which is not to dismantle the project but for it to be less intrusive on a cultural and historical landmark of the city's heritage.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

James Lu, chairman of the Riverside Chinese Culture Preservation Committee, which has led opposition to the project, said he appreciated the extra time. Committee members will spend the next 30 days deciding what concessions they are willing and not willing to make, he said.

Developer Doug Jacobs said after the meeting he has made a number of accommodations and isn't sure what more there is to discuss.

Jacobs is proposing a three-story 65,000-square-foot medical building on a 4.2-acre site at the northwest corner of Tequesquite and Brockton avenues. A Chinatown existed there in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The site is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Jacobs has agreed to conduct a full archaeological excavation of the site before construction and incorporate features inside and outside the building that reflect the site's history, including Chinese gardens and display cases in the lobby.

The culture preservation committee wants the building moved from the corner so as not to disturb archaeological resources believed buried there. They want the corner used for green space instead.

The committee says a 1990 minute order by the Riverside County Board of Education, which owns the property, stated that future uses of the site must preserve its "cultural, historical and archaeological values."

A similar battle is being waged downtown and a lawsuit was filed by the Old Riverside Foundation to overturn a city council decision made about a segment of the Fox Theater project, according to the Press Enterprise.


The proposed demolition of historic buildings is a key reason for the lawsuit, the first ever filed by the 29-year-old foundation, said President David Leonard.

"Our objective is to integrate the historic buildings into the design of Fox Plaza," he said. "There has never been such a degree of removal and demolition of historic buildings in a downtown district as Fox Plaza represents."

Developer MetroPacific Properties proposed Fox Plaza with as many as 532 residential units and 1,693 parking spaces in three garages, and as much as 76,000 square feet of restaurant and retail space.

The project would occupy nearly 6 acres downtown -- two partial blocks on the east side of Market Street between Mission Inn Avenue and Fifth Street and the square block bounded by Market, Sixth Street, Fairmount Boulevard and Fifth Street.

Historic structures that would have to be demolished to make way for Fox Plaza and for a separate parking garage for the Fox Theatre include the Stalder Building, at the northeast corner of Market and Mission Inn, and several smaller buildings on both Market and Fairmount.

The suit says the city violated the California Environmental Quality Act in part because the council's approvals did not include conditions to avoid demolishing the historic structures and because the environmental impact report contained too little analysis of the project's impact on historic resources.

The Community Police Review Commission is still silent on whether or not it's planning to fulfill its charter responsibility and investigate the death of Martin Gaspar Pablo. On this agenda the "Pablo incident" is listed as a "briefing and discussion of the CPRC purview" which probably means the city manager's office and the city attorney's office are going to explain why the CPRC won't be fulfilling its chartered responsibilities this time aroun because if it were going to do so, it would have done it already. And the commissioners minus Jim Ward will probably nod their heads collectively and say, "next".

Speaking of the CPRC, the depositions in the Cloud case are listed on its Web site as are other sources of information on the investigation into the fatal shooting of Douglas Steven Cloud. The information on the Joseph Darnell Hill case isn't available yet. If you click that link, you'll end up reading the Summer Lane shooting investigation public report. But then again, if you have some time read that report and you'll understand the politics behind the earlier mention of the CPRC.

At any rate, here are some more depositions on the Cloud case.

Officer Brett Stennett who was interviewed by plaintiff attorneys on Dec. 11, 2007 in Riverside provided his account of the shooting incident that unfolded at the scene of Cloud's crashed motor vehicle several feet away from him. He has been working at the police department after graduating from the San Bernardino Sheriffs' Academy 3 1/2 years ago.

On Oct. 8, 2006, Stennett had been partnered with Officer Nick Vazquez. They received a radio call of a "211" at the Home Depot at Indiana and Madison. They didn't receive much information about the incident but a description of the vehicle. While driving, they saw Cloud's crashed vehicle. Vazquez got out of the squad car as did Stennett after he spoke on the radio. Vazquez approached the driver's side of the crashed vehicle while Stennett went to the passenger's side. Stennett had his gun drawn as he approached.

Cloud was sitting in the car with his hands on the steering wheel. Stennett saw that the rear end of the vehicle was damaged.

Vazquez yelled commands to Cloud including "show me your hands". Stennett couldn't see clearly into the passenger window to know Cloud's position in his seat. Another man was standing by the driver's side window looking into it.

Stennett wasn't aware if the police department had any written policy on how to remove someone from a car if they didn't want to leave it, but in this case, he began pulling on Cloud's arm to get him through the driver's side window after he had moved to stand to the left of Vazquez. He didn't believe by Cloud's movement that he was injured.

Vazquez had his gun out at that point, aimed in a line towards Cloud's upper torso and he told Stennett to try to gain control of Cloud's hands. Stennett reached in up to the level of his upper arms to do that while the tires were spinning and kicking up debris from the ground.

At that point, Officer David Johansen was there and tried to help Stennett grab Cloud. But neither were able to pull him out of the window. Then Stennett heard Vazquez tell him to take a step back away from the car. He did and soon after, heard the first gunshot fired by Vazquez.

The attorney asked Stennett if he had intended to shoot Cloud.

"No. My job was to be the hands on guy. I mean I was there to have my hands free, if possible to take advantage of any situation that might arise where I could be helpful. I mean, Officer Vazquez was my lethal cover."

More shots followed and Stennett did pull out his gun but reh0lstered it when he saw that Cloud had been "disabled".

Stennett was later interviewed that day by Det. Jim Brandt and nearly a year later by Internal Affairs Sgt. Don Taulli.

Frederic E. Cagle, jr. was interviewed in Riverside on Dec. 4. 2007.

Cagle worked at Acura Dealership of Riverside on Oct. 8, 2006 and was in the fleet office when he heard the noise which brought him outside. He went to provide assistance after Cloud's car had crashed. The car had a huge dent on its rear side, it was resting on top of a downed palm tree and broken glass was everywhere. He saw a tanned man in his mid-twenties with brown hair and blue eyes sitting in the car. He told the man to be still and Cloud had asked him if he had hit him. Cagle said, no that he had hit his truck and the tree. He told Cloud he would be okay and to lie still. Cloud was dazed after the accident with a scratch over his eye and Cagle touched him on the chest to keep him still.

Cloud wasn't wearing a seat belt and there was no center console in the car near where he was sitting. Cagle stayed with Cloud telling him to be still and that everything would be all right until the officers came. A police officer got out of his squad car with his gun drawn about 20-25 feet away from where Cagle was standing. He and another officer in the same car ran to Cloud's vehicle. The officers didn't say anything to Cagle but he saw the drawn weapons and stepped away from Cloud's vehicle.

Cagle was now eight feet away from the rear point of the car.

The officers had their guns pointed as they approached the driver's side of the car, aimed inside the window at Cloud. Cagle heard the officers yell, "get out of the car". Nothing else was said by the officers that he could hear. Stennett tried to open the door but could not.

Two other officers arrived and also approached the driver's side of the door with their guns drawn. Several officers tried to pull Cloud out of the window and pulled his body out part way, from his belly button to his chest.

At some point, the officers lost their grip and Cloud went back into the vehicle. The back wheels began spinning at that point and gears were grinding. The officers stepped to their left. Vazquez shot his gun once.

"My first thought is that's not what a stun gun sounds like", Cagle said.

Vazquez paused and then lowered his gun to aim at Cloud's chest area. Vazquez fired again, two to three times. Cagle never took his eyes off Vazquez, unaware that Officer Dave Johansen had also fired his weapon.

The first voice Cagle heard after the shooting was his own.

"You just shot that kid," he said, "You didn't have to kill him."

Cagle ordered another employee to get his daughter in a car and take her home. The officers told Cagle to go back into the showroom.

Cagle was then cross-examined by John Porter, representing the city. During this interrogation, Cagle mentioned that he had expressed concerns to one of the plaintiff attorneys that he feared retaliation from the police department if he had to testify against its officers. The attorney said he didn't have to worry about that.

Cagle had spoken with Cloud's relatives several times including one time when someone came to the dealership to ask if they could plant another palm tree where the other one had been.

As gasoline prices keep soaring, more and more people are using the Metrolink trains to commute to work and to school. But what to do about the lack of parking?

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

In San Bernardino, the parking adjacent to the Santa Fe Depot was full by 6:30 a.m. Wednesday, a half-hour before the first of three early-morning Metrolink trains headed west.

Commuters who could not secure a marked space parked along an unmarked curb. Others parked a block from the station, while others circled the lot looking for a spot. Many commuters were dropped off at the station.

Several expressed their displeasure with the parking situation.

"There are days when there is enough parking (at the station) and there are days like today when there's not enough," said Allen Kreger, who commutes daily to downtown Los Angeles from his home in Redlands. "I leave at the same time of day every day. It's just a question of how close to the station I can park."

On this day, he parked a block away.

What Metrolink officials can do about the parking crunch "is a great question," he said.

"Real estate is precious. It's hard to say how you provide more parking, especially with ridership up," Kreger said. "Fuel prices and whatnot is driving more people to use it (Metrolink), which is great. I don't know where you would fit more parking around here."

The San Manuel Band of Indians is renewing its pact for services with the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department.

Another installment in the horrifying story of the murder of a young girl in 2003 because of lies told by a Los Angeles Police Department homicide detective was published in the Los Angeles Times today.

Martha Puebla, 16, was murdered in 2003 by gang members after one of them was arrested in connection with the slaying of a rival gang member. While Det. Martin Pinner and Det. Juan Rodriguez were interrogating the suspected killer, they showed him a fake photo lineup and told him that Puebla was working with police and had fingered the man as the killer. They signed her name as identifying the man being interrogated as the one responsible. Five months later, Puebla was shot and killed after the man had ordered the other gang members to kill her for snitching.

In reality, Puebla had very little to tell the police about anything related to the slaying. But being a woman of color, she was of course expendable because when these detectives used her to lie and make their case, they must have certainly known what the consequences would be.

The action taken by the LAPD occurred after this article on the appalling incident was published by the Times and it was simply to transfer the detective to another division, five years after the fact.

The mayor of Chicago has blamed the media for making police officers timid.

(excerpt, Chicago Sun-Times)

One day after Police Supt. Jody Weis acknowledged the contradictory trends of rising crime and laid back officers, Daley wholeheartedly agreed and said he has no idea how to reverse it.

Weis says cops worry about suspensions.

Never mind that police officers and their union view the mayor as quick to judge them whenever an officer is accused of brutality or other wrongdoing.

Daley blamed a news media that couldn’t get enough of the infamous videotape of now-fired officer Anthony Abbatte pummeling a diminutive female bartender.

“Remember how long you kept beating the police? That affects them. They’re human beings. They can’t take it. I’m the mayor. You can beat me up every day. That’s your job. [But] when you start beating police officers…because none of you have been in uniform, none of you have been out at 2 a.m. to stop a car, go into a home or an apartment when you see someone pointing a gun at you,” that has an effect, Daley said.

“This is a very difficult, challenging job and they’re always afraid of beefs because, once they get a beef, you write about it. [You say], ‘He has 25 C.R. numbers [complaints registered], all unfounded.’ You say, ‘Why? This fella must be a problem’. And you find out most of them are gangbangers and dope dealers [who] filed charges. And they didn't show up in court or adminstrative hearings. [Yet] you write about it….You beat em up pretty good. Now, you want to be their friend.”

Fraternal Order of Police President Mark Donahue agreed that the media shares responsibility for the phenomenon Police Committee Chairman Isaac Carothers (29th) has called “de-policing.” But so do the brass and the politicians.

But with all the serious problems which have long plagued the Chicago police, including videotaped beatings, corrupt narcotics officers (including as depicted in the book, Brotherhood of Corruption) and allegations of torture, is it any surprise that it's attracted a lot of attention including by the media? The city must have really believed it needed to clean house in that department because it hired a former federal law enforcement officer to head it. Corruption in a department is no doubt a morale buster as well, one might think.

Moving to Chicago? Here's a job opening.

City of Chicago
First Deputy Chief Administrator
Independent Police Review Authority I

The Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA) is an independent
department of the City of Chicago staffed with civilian investigators
that intakes and investigates allegations of misconduct made against
members of the Chicago Police Department.

The First Deputy Chief Administrator position reports directly to the
Chief Administrator and acts as head of department in the absence of
the Chief Administrator. The First Deputy is actively involved in and
has responsibility for establishing the goals and strategic plan of
IPRA and for implementing those through policies and every day
decision making. The First Deputy will have significant policy making
duties as well as exercise significant personal judgment and
discretion on a daily basis in supervising the functioning of IPRA.


Supervises the investigative process, establishes standards for
internal procedures and insures appropriate guidance and training for
IPRA personnel.
Recommends changes to CPD training and policy to address systemic
concerns identified through investigations, and reviewing
investigations and complaints to identify patterns.
Represents IPRA at community events and interacts with the City
Council and other city departments.
Partners with local and federal prosecutors, as appropriate to address
criminal misconduct, will also work with the Chicago Police Department
in analyzing incidents to recommend changes to policies, practices,
and training.


The First Deputy should have experience with investigating misconduct,
familiarity with police procedures, knowledge of state, federal and
constitutional law, past supervisory experience, good communication
skills, impeccable integrity, and strong analytical and writing

Interested Applicants must apply by email at: ilana.rosenzweig@ iprachicago. org


By Mail:

Chief Administrator Rosenzweig

Independent Police Review Authority

10 West 35th Street, Suite 1200

Chicago, IL 60616

Deadline to apply: Applications will be accepted until further notice.
Interested applicants should provide a resume and list of references
Benefits: Medical, Vision, Dental, Flexible Spending Account, Long
Term Disability, Twelve Paid
Holidays, Deferred Compensation, Pension Plan, Tuition Reimbursement

Salary: $136,088.00

Evaluation: Your initial evaluation will be based on information
provided on the application form and documents submitted with the
application. Applicants must be submitted by the individual applicant.
No second party applications will be accepted.

Residency Requirement: An employee must be an actual resident of the
City of Chicago. Proof of residency will be required at the time of

312-744-4976 (VOICE) OR 312-744-5035 (TTY). YOU MAY BE REQUIRED TO


City of Chicago is an Equal Opportunity/ Affirmative Action Employer

City of Chicago
Department of Human Resources

Richard M. Daley, Mayor
Homero Tristan, Commissioner

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