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, September 03, 2008

When past meets prologue: Will Jose Nazario be coming back?

""When someone's been acquitted you think they should be given their job back.
But sometimes the departments feel they have an insurance problem."

---Attorney John Barnett who represents police officers

"As far as I'm concerned, under the circumstances he should be back in the position immediately. We want to make sure this guy gets taken care of and pushed through the process."

---Riverside Police Officers' Association president, Det. Chris Lanzillo

"I would think they would look at reinstating him."

----Ward One Councilman Mike Gardner, who said this would apply only if the arrest had been the only cause for termination.

The Police Department considers personnel matters confidential and won't discuss them publicly.

---Riverside Police Department Public Information Officer Steve Frasher to Press Enterprise.

"This man has served his country and received an honorable discharge, awards and passed all requirements to be a police officer at the academy. His only fault is pride. Give his job back NOW!"

----20yrsusmcdad at Press Enterprise Web site

"Yes, he should be a police officer because he already knows how to "beat the (expletive) out of this (expletive) and find a reason to take him to jail."

We need more police like this to protect us from criminals that will beat the (expletive) out of us.

Moreover, as court records show, he also has experience in killing un-armed insurgents. So if he can't beat the (explicative) out of a suspect he can at kill him instead."

---sspeedracer at Press Enterprise Web site

"The modern, progressive police departments and police chiefs are responding more quickly, with more details, to community and media concerns and questions. Departments that do not respond well to these demands are clearly in need of civilian oversight and evaluation of policies, procedures and accountability systems."

---University of South Carolina professor Geoffrey P. Alpert to the Los Angeles Times.

"I decided there were systemic problems with the Riverside Police Department. There were a lot of instances in which African-Americans were beaten, Hispanics beaten and tossed in the lake, and Gays and Lesbians harassed and beaten. I spent a year and a half negotiating with the Riverside Police Department for such basic demands as psychological evaluations for officers before they are hired, up-to-date training, community relations boards, availability and training in use of non-lethal weapons, TV cameras in the chief's office and the squad room and video and audio recording in police cars. The intent of these reforms was to break the macho culture of the police department and the racism and sexism that went along with it."

---Then State Attorney General Bill Lockyer in San Diego during 2003.

What: The Riverside Police Department

Where: Riverside, California

When: September 2008

When reading the newspaper this morning, I was reminded of something that an Los Angeles Police Department officer who had been assigned to the 77th division told me years ago and that was that Riverside, in fact the entire Inland Empire region was in cowboy country and that as a result, the police departments hire cowboys to police the streets. I thought his comments were ironic at the time considering how many LAPD officers are hired as what's called, "91 laterals" by the Riverside Police Department to police its own streets. "91" being the freeway that splits Riverside in half meaning that many LAPD officers lived out in the Inland Empire and lateraled out of the LAPD after becoming weary of the daily commute.

In 1997, the Riverside Police Department hired its most notorious LAPD lateral, Bill Rhetts who had the distinction at the time of having been involved in two fatal shootings in six months. He also made a list which definitely wasn't the LAPD's honor roll but its Christopher Commission list, meaning that he was one of the 60 or so officers out of about 8,500 who were on former Secretary of State Warren Christopher's version of what's now called an Early Warning System. Rhetts made the list because he had multiple onduty shootings and numerous complaints against him. When he came to the Riverside Police Department, he had one shooting of an unarmed man in a dog house under his belt and was under investigation for comments he made to another officer about how "In L.A, they treat like a King while in Riverside, it's Miller time".

In depositions submitted as part of the Roger Sutton v the Riverside Police Department racism lawsuit, it seemed that this investigation lasted a long time without going anywhere because investigators had no idea what reference to use to place Rhetts' comments. Rhetts would eventually retire after shooting the man along with several dogs and years later, would tell the Los Angeles Times, he didn't believe he should ever have been a police officer.

Some said that other officers considered him a "rogue" after his departure but that's hard to believe considering that when he left, he left as the vice-president of the Riverside Police Officers' Association, an elected position.

Another LAPD lateral who was hired out of the Rampart's narcotics division just before the scandal broke in 1999 that led to Los Angeles' seemingly never ending federal consent decree, lasted for just over three years before being retired out of the Riverside's department. At least two civil rights lawsuits filed against him within nine months of his hiring floated around the U.S. District Court for a while after his retirement.

So it's a bit ironic indeed to hear an LAPD officer refer to officers in Riverside or the Inland Empire as being "cowboys". Most of them aren't but the reputation they garnered in the 1990s and even earlier of being just that has outlasted the careers of most of the officers who inspired it. The majority of the current generation of officers certainly those in patrol came about during the period of time the department spent under its stipulated judgment with the office of former State Attorney General Bill Lockyer. The majority of the ones who currently work in the department don't harbor any emotional vestige of what was called the Tyisha Miller era. There are many professional, hardworking officers in the Riverside Police Department. At first they bucked the tide, then hopefully they have and will become that tide but that's still off in the future of a police department still in transition.

I thought about that today when pondering the revelation that was aired in today's Press Enterprise that former police officer Jose Luis Nazario was trying to restore the life he felt was taken from him when he was fired last year by Police Chief Russ Leach after the Navy Criminal Investigators unit came looking for him for alleged crimes he had committed two years earlier as a U.S. Marine sergeant in Iraq.

Less than a week after Nazario was acquitted of manslaughter charges by a jury in federal court, he's initiated the process to get his old job back through his attorney. If you recall, Nazario was a probational officer fired by the department last year after being arrested by those same Navy investigators and later indicted by a federal grand jury on voluntary manslaughter charges in connection with the fatal shootings of four unarmed Iraqi detainees in Fallajah during 2004. Three years after that alleged incident, he had been lured to the station just as former officers, Laura De Giorgio and Adam Brown had before him under the guise of attending meetings or to sign performance evaluations only to be arrested instead. In his case, he was handcuffed by either the investigators or officers in his own department depending on whose story it is while leaning over to sign a piece of paper believing it was an evaluation.

After about a year of court proceedings, Nazario was acquitted last week in federal court by a jury which was effusive about its inability or unwillingness to carry out the law required of it because they were civilians and Nazario was an ex-Marine who had been alleged to have committed the actions which led to the criminal charges while in combat. After his acquittal, Nazario walked to the police department's headquarters downtown to ask for his job back.

One problem emerged that might haunt his chances of reinstatement even before the trial started and that involved alleged comments that Nazario had made to a friend of his (who was trying to implicate him of crimes at the time) about how he policed during the year minus several weeks he spent employed by the Riverside Police Department before his arrest.

The news article written by three reporters from the Press Enterprise quoted different players in both city politics in general and about this incident in particular. It does make note of the aforementioned comments allegedly made by Nazario to Marine Sgt. Jermaine Nelson about his stint at the police department at its very end.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

In it, Nazario said working as an officer was like the TV show "Cops," where they ride around in a car and respond to calls.

In the recording, Nazario describes responding to a domestic violence call with several other officers, stating they "beat the (expletive) out of this (expletive) and find a reason to take him to jail."

Earlier last month, the Wall Street Journal had made reference to these comments in its own article.


In a recent interview, Mr. Nazario said he went to Riverside to raise a family and "protect the people there," which was "a natural extension from my work in the Marines."

During his time in Riverside, Navy investigators arranged a surreptitiously taped phone call between Mr. Nelson and Mr. Nazario, during which Mr. Nazario described his work. Saying his job was much like the television show "Cops," he told Mr. Nelson that he regularly would "beat the s- out of" a criminal, finding "a reason to take him to jail" later, according to a transcript of the conversation.

The department's response to this publication was the same as its response to the Press Enterprise, that it couldn't discuss personnel information. It doesn't really have to, because the communities are filling in that gap that they have left through their silence on the issue. Someone asked me today that after pondering when and if Nazario would return, "so this is the new improved RPD?" That was one community leader's reaction to the situation.

There's been a lot of discussion outside the closed off police department about this situation particularly in the wake of the comments that Nazario made and then backtracked away from when asked about them by the Wall Street Journal.

The information provided in both newspaper accounts differs somewhat. The first account is of a particular incident that Nazario said he and other officers in the department responded to involving domestic violence. Instead of him saying that he beat the shit out of someone, he's saying that "they" meaning he and "several other officers" did it. Then "they" found a reason to take him to jail. In the second account, Nazario allegedly said that "he" would "beat the shit out of" a "criminal" and then would find " a reason to take him to jail" later on. Both sets of alleged comments present problems. They also present problems whether they were the truth or not.

It's not clear whether Nazario was asked to respond to these comments in the Press Enterprise but he was asked to do so by the Wall Street Journal.


Asked in an interview about the statements that led to his arrest, Mr. Nazario says he didn't understand that Mr. Nelson was referring to a particular incident in Fallujah and that he wasn't acknowledging any crime. He defends his record at the Riverside Police Department, and says he may have been drinking during the call; he describes the conversation as "two guys" who were "talking tough" about "untrue stories."

So which time did he lie? Did he tell "untrue stories" when he made the comments to Nelson? Did he lie by calling what he said "untrue stories"?

Let's take a look at the first account. The one where whether Nazario told the truth or it was what presiding U.S. District Judge Stephen Larson called engaging in "bravado", he detailed responding to a domestic violence call with several other officers and beating the (expletive) out of the (expletive) and coming up with a reason to take this person to jail. At first thought, one would think if it's a domestic violence call and a crime is being committed then the individual could be taken to jail on that or related charges without having to figure out a reason after beating the (expletive) out of this person.

There are two possibilities here. One is that Nazario told Nelson the truth, the other being that he lied or embellished the events that did take place. One obvious problem with doing either in this version of the comments is that he's involving several other officers who exist and have engaged in serious misconduct if it's the truth and who don't exist if it's a lie. But it's not quite that cut and dry, because if Nazario lied about this incident, the officers aren't completely a fictional creation of his imagination. They do exist and they are every officer in the Riverside Police Department who ever accompanied Nazario on a domestic violence (which is a very common call for service) complaint during his tenure there. Because if the Riverside Police Department is a law enforcement agency which is truly accountable to the public it serves, then it already has initiated an administrative investigation or probe into the alleged comments which may mean interviewing officers who worked with him on domestic violence calls.

What if you're a hardworking, honest and honorable police officer who worked with Nazario on a domestic violence call? What if you're one of his field training officers who tried to teach him how to do the job in a professional manner on one of those calls because that's your job? What if it turns out that you're under suspicion because Nazario told one of his "untrue stories" casting you in an unnamed supporting role in some incident that you never played during a domestic violence call that may or may not have ever taken place? And he put you in that position solely for the purpose of "bravado"? What does that say exactly about his concern about the officers he worked with?

The other possibility is that Nazario spoke the truth about this incident. That presents different problems because essentially that would mean that he and "several other officers" did beat the (expletive) out of (expletive) and made up something after the fact. Would this incident if it had happened be within administrative policies and procedures? Would it be a legal use of force under the state's penal code? Would the truthfulness of written reports after the fact meet both administrative and legal standards? Were supervisors given an honest accounting of the incidents involved?

First of all, one would hope that this incident never happened. Second of all, if it did happen, one would have hoped that the accountability mechanisms that are supposed to be in place within the department beginning at the officer level and moving up to the supervisory sergeant level would perform the functions that they were intended to do.

Did they work? Did they fail instead? Do they not apply in this set of circumstances because the incident never took place except as an expression of "bravado"? These questions should be asked and they are being asked outside the closed walls of the police department and no doubt, inside it as well. Hopefully, they're also asking how "bravado" or being brave ever came down to meaning or representing someone who was being abusive and a liar in the first place. Where did that belief system and/or code of conduct come from if that's the case?

Then there's the comments as stated in the Wall Street Journal article which make it appear as if Nazario beat the shit out of people regularly then came up with reasons to take them to jail later. There's no mention of "several other officers" here but there are related issues of whether or not a pattern of excessive force and false reporting of incidents could have happened during Nazario's brief history in the department given that it's not likely the department left him on his own in a squad car with a radio serving both as his connection to the department and as an accountability mechanism for a sizable portion of his tenure there. Most or all of his stint in the police department would have required him working under the supervision of a series of field training officers in its training program.

So what happened? Was he out abusing people on a regular basis believing that a television show called Cops should define the profession and if so, was he alone? Does the fact that he spent most of the time supervised by training officers make it less likely that he could have been a serial user of excessive force and creative report writing? Does this increase the probability that he was making up these "untrue stories"?

There's precedent in the Riverside Police Department for officers refusing to engage in lying and falsifying police reports to justify a use of excessive force by exaggerating the danger and thus ensuring that the individual who was battered by officers faces harsher criminal penalties. One of them took place under the watchful eye of the State Attorney General's office and earned the nickname, the "Pear Blossom Incident".

In November 2004, police officers responded to a call involving a mentally ill Black man who was on a roof of a garage near a residence. On the scene at some point, was a female probationary (at the time) watch commander. At some point during the situation, the watch commander ordered officers to fire over 40 less lethal munitions at the man and fire fighters to spray the man with high-powered water from their hoses.

Later on, the watch commander gathered the officers together and tried to pressure them into lying about the incident to bolster her decision to utilize the level of force that they did. They refused and stood fast until the watch commander's supervisor in management told them they had to do it. At some point, the cavalry of sorts must have ridden in to straighten it all out and in the process, the watch commander was demoted.

The incident merited a brief in the Press Enterprise when it happened and I first read about it and the aftermath here in this blog, not as an example of how awful this is but apparently as a way to prove that female officers were terrible because the individual who didn't identify him or herself felt I was being a meanie against White male officers.

Later on, the incident was explained to me by the state's monitor as an example of what some might have seen as an attempt at insubordination that is done for all the right reasons. That provided an important perspective on a complex sequence of events that began horribly but ended putting the department in a much better place.

So it's entirely possible at least in some circumstances for police officers to challenge bad orders given to them by their supervisors, but it's not clear how long it takes to determine that it's possible to do so. But it's not likely this would extend to probational officers who as said by the Riverside Police Officers' Association president aren't afforded certain job protections enjoyed by permanent employees who pass probation. In fact, in California if you're a permanent officer about the only way you can get fired and stay fired if you appeal through arbitration is to have a felony conviction on your record.

Last year, three officers who worked in Riverside and were fired in 2005 went through arbitration and two of them were reinstated first by the arbitrator and then by the city council (which reversed a vote it took to not reinstate them from the previous week). The other, Chris Gaspard was not reinstated but it's possible that the misdemeanor conviction that he received in connection with an off-duty incident where he allegedly evaded police officers was not the sole deciding factor, because it was a misdemeanor albeit one that involved defying a police officers' directions.

Does this right to essentially commit insubordination apply between probational officers and their field training officers? If a field training officer gives an order which violates a policy or a law, does the probational officer have any right to say no? If a male field training officer tells a female probational officer that if you don't have sex with me at such and such a spot, you won't pass this phase of training and will get a "failure to meet standards" instead, does she have the right to say no or does she kiss her job goodbye? This is an issue commonly litigated across the county in fact and the response to that is mixed.

It's hard to say in Riverside because the only public accounting of a female officer who filed a sexual harassment complaint against a law enforcement supervisor filed it while at the peace officer training academy and she was fired the first day of her field training program at the police department as a probational officer. Like Nazario, her rights as well as her options were very limited after being stunned by a firing she apparently didn't see coming. Unlike Nazario, no one from the department spoke out publicly on her behalf although a police union attorney represented her briefly while she filed a claim for damages against the city according to court records.

The training for new officers emphasizes the role that field training officers play in ensuring that those they train and mold into professional officers don't violate policies, don't put themselves or anyone else at risk and don't violate state or federal laws and that is very important. But the training is dearth in information provided about the options of probational officers who are present or even ordered by field training officers to commit these violations. What options do probational officers have when field training officers give them orders they simply can't follow?

Nazario spent the majority of his time in the police department under the supervision of one or more field training officers. If the events he speaks about are true or if he's talking about behavior he did on a regular basis, then what role would his training officers have in this behavior if it indeed took place? If Nazario is telling the truth about the possibly illegal conduct he engaged in, who authorized it if he wasn't the sole participant? If Nazario is telling the truth about his conduct at the Riverside Police Department then what he's essentially done is tossed a rock in a smooth lake and sent ripples from the center all the way out to its shores because it's hard for misconduct committed by even one police officer to remain isolated for long.

But the constant supervision of Nazario by field training officers could also dilute the veracity of his comments if they operate under the standards of conduct that the department puts in writing governing their behavior. If Nazario was supervised and trained by senior officers who adhered to these strict standards of conduct, then it's not as likely that there would be any or as much opportunity to engage in misconduct on the job.

The problem is that given the insulated nature of law enforcement in general and the Riverside Police Department in particular, it's hard to know which scenario Nazario operated under and how that defines whether or not his comments were true.

On a weekly and sometimes daily basis, I hear or read complaints about the police department. I've attended meetings with different organizations in the past month who are interested in what's going on in the police department and/or its relationships with the communities it serves and protects. At a meeting on Saturday in the Eastside, the regional president of the National Association of Equal Justice in America talked about being stopped by Riverside police officers who wanted to his license and to search his trunk. He said fine to both but when he handed them his driver's license, he included his NAEJA business card and after reading it, the officer suddenly decided he didn't need or want to search the vehicle trunk.

At another meeting, complaints abounded about racial profiling in another neighborhood where one particular officer traditionally receives about 90% of all the complaints and one gentleman said this officer challenged him to a fight in a local park saying he would take his badge off first. That one seemed a bit incredible even for that particular officer but it hits home the point that many complaints center around allegations of racial profiling, excessive force and lying or perjury. True or not, they provide the foundation of the more serious complaints against law enforcement officers.

The responses to these complaints often vary. To communities, they are real; To police departments including Riverside's, they don't have merit given even the commission having a sustain rate of about 3%, which has got to be one of the lowest in the country. So when an officer like Nazario makes these comments even if it's "bravado" ( a value judgment by Larson that itself had no concrete basis), then this gives individuals the evidence that yes, this is something that happens and something the department is endorsing if they know that an officer was saying these things and they hire him back into the fold. The department can make statements claiming it doesn't condone having officers using excessive force and/or lying but through the actions of rehiring someone who himself has claimed to do these things, its actions speak louder than its words. A word is a word, but a picture consists of a thousand of them.

These complaints don't often make it to the avenues provided by the police department or even the Community Police Review Commission. One major complaint is that when complaints against police officers are sent to civil rights organizations in the area, there is no response which might be why newer organizations which have national offices are coming to town looking to set up chapters to address this issue filling an apparent vaccuum. Complaints are also being sent to federal and state authorities and to other organizations like the ACLU, so much so for the latter that the national office sent a representative who specializes in racial profiling to meet with individuals in Riverside. The trend seems to be that more and more people are seeking other options for complaint filing.

It doesn't do much to inspire better community and police relations when people ask questions like if the department is not engaging or encouraging these behaviors then why does it want to rehire an officer who said that he did? It doesn't make it easier to say yes, the department has made progress in such and such an area if what it's actually doing counters that presentation. Chief Russ Leach stated that there's no role for the department to engage in speculation of past, present and future tenures of officers and he's right in that as far as the department's role in concerned but what's not clear is how much of a say the police chief has in making this decision in Riverside. I've never read an email in my history in Riverside where I saw such a large list of individuals that the police chief is deferential to at City Hall. That was very interesting and something relatively new, perhaps about two years old now.

Is the department required to rehire Nazario is another question I've been asked quite a few times. The answer is, no. The police chief has the right to fire any probational employee without naming a cause or a reason even if a reason might appear obvious in particular circumstances. Even an elected official saying that he thinks the officer should be reinstated if he was only fired for being arrested is problematic for this very reason. RPOA president, Det. Chris Lanzillo outlined the situation involving the firing of probational employees fairly clearly in the Press Enterprise article. Even as he voiced his personal preference, he realizes that it's an uphill road towards reinstatement because of the lack of access to any real appeal process including arbitration.

Another common question that I've heard in recent days pertains to civic liability, meaning that if Nazario rightly or wrongly was sued as was the city and his comments about excessive force and/or falsifying information came to light. How much money is the city going to have to pay and where will that money be coming from? The insurance carrier? Are you sure about that?

Given how many lawsuits involving wrongful death the city has settled which currently stands at roughly $1.5 million within the past year, this is a pertinent question. And the fact is that given what's gone down in this situation, if Nazario or the city gets sued over excessive force and/or falsifying information, you might as well hand the plaintiff's attorney the city's check book. But where will that money be coming from?

If Nazario and by extention, the department and city do get sued, let's hope that at least the city's insurance carrier covering civil liability within the police department is in much better shape than it's rumored to be.

The Riverside Governmental Affairs Committee did discuss the ethics code and complaint process for about three minutes. By the time the public arrived, they were almost done with the second agenda item on the allocation of Charter Communications pin money.

What was interesting was when Save-Riverside's member Kevin Dawson who videotaped the meeting pointed out that the annual review was supposed to consist of the mayor, city council and assorted other City Hall personalities but the only talking heads at the meeting were the three council members sitting on the committee. When Mayor Ron Loveridge got wind of this, he was a bit concerned but it's not clear whether or not he'll rectify the situation which violated the standards of how the review is to be conducted and reschedule another meeting to review the ethics process more in line with the rules.

Ward Seven Councilman Steve Adams was his usual self, smirking and shaking his head when Jennifer Vaughn-Blakely of the Group and the chair of the committee to create the ethics code and process outlined the recommendation to have complaints reviewed and resolved by an independent panel possibly of retired judges. She told Adams that she hoped his "smiling" was his intent to follow her recommendations.

After the meeting, Ward Three Councilman Rusty Bailey who's actually got some manners received an earful from individuals attending the reminents of the committee meeting about Adams' continuing pattern of boorish conduct at meetings which even a close call at the polls during Election 2007 not to mention a thrashing in the primaries of a state election have diminished.

In San Bernardino, the police union there wants to oust its police chief amid what it calls an atmosphere of paranoia, favortism and dysfunction, according to the Press Enterprise.


Appearing before the City Council, the San Bernardino Police Officer Association's past president read a statement describing affairs inside the department as "deplorable."

It ended by hinting at what may be the union's next move: taking a vote of no confidence in Billdt's ability to remain chief.

"Over the years I've watched varying levels of decay affecting the mindset of our officers but never rising to the level I am now seeing," said Steve Filson, a 27-year veteran of the city's police force. "Secretive closed-door meetings, interoffice memoranda, which amount to little more than divisive finger pointing, and more."

Billdt was present at the start of the council meeting but had left by the time Filson read his statement. He did not respond to requests to comment late Tuesday night left on his cell phone and via e-mail.

Inglewood's police department is showing how its own code of silence over shootings is upsetting the communities it serves.

(excerpt, Los Angeles Times)

The people in the community are asking what is going on with the Inglewood Police Department," said Donald Nicholson, vice chairman of the city's police oversight commission and a 30-year resident. "I don't have an answer for them. There's nothing from the City Council, nothing from the mayor, nothing from police."

"There's something gravely amiss," Nicholson said, referring to the most recent case in which seven police officers on Sunday afternoon fired at least 40 times at Eddie Felix Franco, 56, a homeless man who police say possessed a fake gun. "Forty to 50 [shots] at a homeless man with his dog up against a wall? To me, as a rational individual, I just don't understand it."

On Tuesday, Inglewood Police Chief Jacqueline Seabrooks and other department officials did not answer questions about the case. Since then all inquiries about the shooting have gone unanswered.

Stolen campaign signs are a problem in Colton but apparently that's nothing new.

(excert, Press Enterprise)

Petty theft and defacing signs has happened several times during Colton elections.

In June, during the recall election targeting Mayor Kelly Chastain, both sides complained that signs had been damaged, knocked down or stolen.

"It's a crime. If someone steals a sign and a police report is made, we investigate it," Colton police Lt. Bill Burrows said. "During the political season, we get calls where signs have been taken or defaced. We get the most calls on signs that have been put in an incorrect place."

During the 2006 election, City Council candidate Jake Magnant started his campaign with 250 yard signs and ended with 26, said Councilman John Mitchell.

"You've got to remember, sometimes it's just kids," Mitchell said. "Then there are people that really take (elections) personal.

"This last election, with the recall, there was true hatred," he said. "People that feel that passionate will do things."

At least one city council candidate in Moreno Valley can relate.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Mike Rios, a candidate for the 3rd District council seat, said the thefts started July 23.

He said he has filed multiple reports with Moreno Valley police, but cannot understand why he is being singled out.

"I'm virtually an unknown. I've never run in politics before," Rios said by phone. "I don't know why they focus on me. I'm not even the incumbent."

He said six more of his campaign banners were stolen over the Labor Day holiday weekend. On Sunday, at the intersection of Moreno Beach Drive and Cottonwood Ave., he said he filed another police report after someone had covered over one of his 4-by-6-feet banners with a message: "Mike Rios eats babies."

"I'm just flabbergasted. It's getting to the point that it's out of hand," Rios said Tuesday.

The name of the man shot by Riverside Police Department officers several days after allegedly brandishing a shot gun has been named but the officer or officers who shot him have not been named.

Coming soon to a venue near you: The Empire Strikes Back from City Hall.

Well, not the empire but someone close enough.

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