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, December 09, 2008

Verdict first, investigation second

"Sentence first, verdict afterward."

---Lewis Carroll

Another discussion has started on the filing of a $5 million claims for damages filed by a Los Angeles Police Department officer against the city of Riverside. An anonymous individual wrote this comment about the situation.

(excerpt, Inland Empire Craigslist)

I don't have the time to scroll through Mary's posts, but I recall her account of the FBI meeing and Mr. Guillary getting up and telling his account of his "incident" with RPD.

I remember thinking while reading it. . . . . WHY IN THE HELL DIDN'T HE SAY HE WAS A COP? No where in Mary's account of Mr. Guillary's account did she mention he tried to tell the cops he was a cop. It struck me as extremely odd!

Now, suddenly he has a "witness" that verifies he tried to do so - come on! He knew he had an ace in the hole and played for all it's worth - 5 million now.

Sounds to me Mr. Guillary got his duck in order to fatten up a huge lawsuit against the city.

He was looking for a lawsuit to make him rich from the first Hello. Not the first time, won't be the last. He could have avoided the entire incident with a few words - instead he took it as far as he could in order to cry foul!

Shame on Mr. Guillary! Money hungry manipulater!

Tax payers should NOT cave to this manipulation. Mr. Guillary saw the dollar signs the minute he challenged the police department! What an opportunistic ass!

Karma's a bitch and this will come back to bite him in his sorry ass.

btw I'm not with rpd.

I would ask Mary to re-post her original post about the event as was told to the FBI forum by Mr. Guillary and as she reported it. In Mary's "report" he didn't identify himself as police officer until AFTER HE played it to the extreme and he never indicated that there was a witness that said he did. That's my recollection of reading her account. But then, a blog's re-post could be manipulated. Put your bias aside and recount it here Mary.

Sounds like this individual has more than a casual curiosity about the case. When terms like "karma" and "bite him in his sorry ass" start getting invoked, there's some serious angst involved.

This individual raises some interesting points in his or her comment. First of all, a link to the old post is included in the one preceding this one and the account provided by Guillary at the forum actually took place after he had filed his claim for damages with the city and wrote a letter about the incident to the Community Police Review Commission.

Except for adding an ironic bent to the alleged incident, the issue isn't whether Guillary identified himself as a police officer or did not. It wasn't even as much about whether or not he even was a police officer or not unless you believe law enforcement officers carry special privileges or rights in these situations. Of course if Guillary hadn't been a law enforcement officer, this incident wouldn't have received nearly as much attention as it has received.

The issue was whether or not Guillary was trespassing on the property or not and whether or not the officer had probable cause to believe that might be the case. And if so, what was that based upon. Was it based on Guillary's actions which aroused suspicion or did it have to do with the fact that he was Black, the woman he spoke to was Black and they were sitting in front of a $1 million mansion in one of Riverside's upper crust neighborhoods?

As for not immediately identifying himself as a police officer, it's possible that if that's the case it was because Guillary could have been asserting himself as the property owner instead because that's the more relevant issue here than whether or not he was a police officer.

It's been two months since the report was written by the police officer that Guillary was resisting arrest so his first court date on those charges must be coming up soon because most often, the Riverside County District Attorney's office files charges very quickly on similar cases. So perhaps the procession of the criminal case which takes place in a public forum will provide some answers.

According to Dan Bernstein's column, it appears that the investigation by the police department on this incident is already completed by the department's internal affairs division, its conclusions have been reached as evidenced by comments made by Police Chief Russ Leach and so it would be perfectly valid to ask the department to release one "eye witness" account of the incident and that would be the belt recording submitted by the police officers who responded to the situation including the first responder. Not to mention any video recordings that originated from the dash cameras that are now installed inside every squad car. Equipment which has exonerated officers of false misconduct allegations in the past.

According to departmental policy, any police officer who initiates a professional contact with an individual is required to activate his or her department issued belt recorder. If the department is insisting that the officer was responding to complaints (which wouldn't have been covered by the policy), then perhaps those records could be produced as well. Hopefully, that will be done soon so that this situation can be exposed for what it is, true or false.

If the police department is upset about the press coverage of this incident and its inability to respond in an open fashion, the blame shouldn't be placed on the media and members of the public. After all, neither the media nor the public lobbied aggressively for Penal Code 832.7 or the Police Officers Bill of Rights, the latter being set up to protect the rank and file from abuses from management not to shield them from the public. These laws are what is gagging the police department from responding and it should understand that you can't have it both ways. You can't demure under state law by saying you can't talk about something and then talk about it anyway, knowing that state law prevents you from providing evidence to back your exonerated finding to the media as long as it's under the administrative banner. But that's what is being done here. And if the involved Riverside police officer is the innocent party here, it's not karma that's biting him so to speak, it's these state laws set up to "protect" him. If he's guilty, then these same laws are protecting him by shielding misconduct from the public. Now there's a dilemma but it's not one of the public's making.

One of the interesting things about Leach's comments to Bernstein is that he said that Guillary was taking the incident public to get exonerated in an internal affairs investigation being done by the Los Angeles Police Department when he could have said that Guillary was using the press to exonerate himself from a criminal investigation of resisting arrest being done by the Riverside Police Department because that's the paramount investigation of the three as far as the department is concerned. It's hard to know what to say when the police department which is conducting the criminal investigation has more to say about another agency's internal investigation.

Also interesting is that when Leach produced a brief list of priorities in addressing this situation, examining the actions of his officers was at the bottom of his "to do" list.

But first you had a nonresponse from the police department in an article, then a response from the police chief in a column. Neither provided much of a service or really provided much in the way to feel confident in the complaint investigation process except to spread the perception that the department's got its mind made up about complaints against its officers before its completed its investigations which might take many months. That's very unfortunate.

A better response from the police department would have been to say that we've received the information, we've initiated an investigation which will be conducted in a thorough, objective and timely manner. The reason to do this doesn't so much have anything to do with the current situation but it's necessary to do it for the benefit of the department's complaint and investigation process. The department is the one that says that of all people, they can't jump to conclusions and make premature statements about an incident early on in its investigation.

There's been a lot of talk about the necessity of maintaining the integrity of departmental investigations in the discussion that's taking place more or less on the CPRC's power to conduct independent investigations of officer-involved deaths. Even dragging out straw men arguments like the one Bernstein raised about investigators trampling over crime scenes after an officer-involved death has happened. When asked by numerous people when that had ever happened during the CPRC's eight year history, what was the response?

***pin dropping***

But what is it exactly doing when representatives of the police department say they can't talk about it publicly but then they wind up doing so anyway, by painting a complainant's story in the press as publicity being done to "win" an internal affairs investigation elsewhere. As if the police department's never used the media in connection with one of its own investigations before. And in this case there are at least two investigations by the Riverside Police Department and one by the Los Angeles Police Department which are still being conducted.

After reading Bernstein's column, I didn't even need to guess when the first time would be that a person wanting to file a complaint through the police department's state mandated complaint system would express concern that the police department would start talking about it in the press or basically sustain an investigation before it had even been done. They would ask if it's true that complaints were actually decided so early on in the process of investigation when they might have been told it would take several months or longer before they would hear back about it. After all, more often than not the average time it takes for a complaint to just reach the CPRC is more than 100 days, sometimes much more. But if it appears that the department decides early on they are unfounded, then why does it take 100 to 200 days or longer for the complaint to even make it to the CPRC let alone have the complainant receive a final letter of disposition from the city?

It seems like that letter should be sent out within the first month.

Since the investigation of the Guillary case is clearly over and done with given the statement by Leach, that means that it's probably way ahead of that curve. That's good news for the CPRC because if the investigation's done and the officer's been exonerated by the police chief himself in the press, the case material should be on its way to the CPRC by a week or so at the latest so it can reach its own recommended finding to forward to the city manager's office.

This discussion is continuing on as well as it has been for a couple of days.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

I just read both articles. And its unfortunate in both cases with Mr Guillary and RPD. It is obvious there was some form of miscommunication. What I don't understand is how some people judge a whole department by the actions of one man. Whether it was LAPD or RPD, people don't understand that we are not the enemy. Police Officers are the only ones that keep you and your family safe from the real criminals. Just remember and don't forget who you call in a case of an emergency. In the case of Guillary maybe he should had said something, identify himself, spoken up, advise him that he was the owner, not just walk away like uncooperative suspect. And Riverside Ofcr maybe he wasn't that experience and or was afraid...Yes Police Officer do become afraid at can blame the guy working in a single man unit.

kcgirl05--I don't think there is any reason that any attention should be diverted away from this story, and that was not at all my intention to do so. However, the point that I WAS trying to get across, is that off-duty police officers ARE NOT ABOVE THE LAW! So when RPD arrived to the location, and inquired as to what business these two people had "at the far end corner" of Mr. Guillary property, and his response was to walk away and toward the home ignoring the officers request he made the wrong decision(period) Is it because LAPD thinks that they are above all other law enforcement while off duty ? and can do as they please? Simply ignore the law that everyone else has to abide by? Hell, even mortally wound an innocent person and face little if any repercussion? (oh and if you werent already aware, that off duty LAPD officer driving the HummerH2, that was involved in the fatal shooting in Corona, he was also black) so dont let ethnicity play a factor in YOUR judgment.

i try to make sense of this but can not. why did the officer stop and confront Guillary at his house and treat him like he had robbed a bank. no quest to get identification prior to pulling his gun. i would expect that in Mississippi in 1960

ChargerDsrt8 & GLF4LF14 you guys need to wake up! God Bless both of you. GLF4LF14! Didn't you read the articel? Guillary did try to ID himself. According to Ms. Young he tried but the officer wouldn't let ID himself and did't want to believe that he was a police officer or the home owner. Blatant Racism. Secondly, Guillary was under no compulsion to ID himself to this officer. He was off-duty, not bothering anyone. The person who should have been professional was the police officer

My dad was a Gardena Police Department reserve officer during the early '60's. I worked as a community liaison with LAPD Southeast Division while serving as a block captain in the LA City Strip in the '80's. I've always respected and supported our police officers and our current neighbors are wonderful law enforcement officers serving two IE agencies. But in my opinion, RPD needs all new leadership at the highest levels and new direction in discipline and field training. I've seen the aftermath and affect of their over-reactionism and brutality, as well as inappropriate behavior on-scene (this incident is a drop in the bucket here, folks). I'm sure there are some damned good RPD cops out there who have a ton of integrity and character, who can diffuse a volatile situation without resorting to extreme measures, and build community relations - bless you men and women. But RPD definitely has officers on the force who ought to be stripped of their badges, and I mean NOW. Believe me, RPD needs radical reform from the ground up. City managers, you have a very, very serious problem in River City. I sincerely wish you all the best, Officer Guillary.

Okay, ChargeDsrt8, first of all, I don't let ethnicity play a factor in my judgment, so give it a rest with the assumptions. Anyone who is astute should be able to ascertain from this story that there was obviously racial profiling going on here. RPD approached this guy because he was a black man in this high-priced area, and they probably thought he was "bothering" the poor white people. This wouldn't have happened to me if I were standing on this property (I am white), nor would it have happened to Mr. Guillary if he were white. Anyone who says that isn't true is being disingenuous.

Lastly, if the police approached ME on my own property and tried to hassle me, not only would I walk toward my house, but I would tell them where to stick it. You are also being disingenuous if you say you would not do the same. Perhaps you don't know that a person has the right to resist an unlawful arrest or detainment, but that is the law in CA. Mr. Guillary had every right to do as he wished on his property, and the behavior of these officers was appalling.

I think the only thing 'interesting' about this story, is how fast everyone seems to jump to conclusions about an incident involving police, regardless of city/race etc. Im sure that there is a lot more to this story then what you all are commenting on. How quick you all are to judge, do none of you remember the incident that occured a few months ago? In which AN OFF DUTY LAPD OFFICER FATALLY SHOT AND KILLED AN UN-ARMED CIVILIAN AFTER A FREEWAY ALTERCATION IN CORONA. Never heard anything more about that, and the sickest part is that the LAPD officer still frequents the parking lot where he killed an innocent person(who was not black) for cutting off his HummerH2. I dont know very many cops that arent armed at all times, on duty or off. YOU DO THE MATH

Dan Bernstein's column is receiving comments as well.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

It is obvious that the public campaign to exonerate his officer is being conducted by Russ Leach and the RPD. I notice that Leach did not mention conducting a comprehensive investigation into his officers actions. At what point did Guillary fit the profile of a "solicitor in the neighborhood". RPD is looking to cover this up and make it go away.

Russ lets be open and tell the truth about the complaint history of your rogue officer..keeping him on the force is whats referred to as negative retention.

I sure hope the community does not allow RPD to exercise KARL ROVE like tactics ie.. when you have no defense for your actions, attack the person complaining.

Over the edge: I agree man! This whole thing does not make sense! If this sergeant did some outrageous things that day, then why wasn't he arrested, charged with threatening an officer or something? This is all BS! I bet any money RPD is trying to sweep this s... under the rug. Secondly! If this thing got out of control on the date it occurred, why wasn't Chief Leach, his subordinates (commanders,captains and those with power) involved at the very beginning to help minimize the damage? Or did Leach himself participate in filing the report with RPD and then sending it to the sergeant's employer. The sergeant told his side of the story. Come on Leach! Tell the truth. It will set you free! If all this .... against the sergeant is false, I hope he (sergeant) gets them (RPD) for defamation of charter. And the same should stand true for the sergeant if he has lied.

These six retired judges will be presiding over civil trials in Riverside County to reduce the backlog in that system which was caused by the ongoing trial backlog in the criminal courts. So one of these judges might be trying a civil case in a classroom at an abandoned elementary school near you.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

"This is a who's who of Riverside County judges," Fields said of the volunteers. "They really bring experience to the table."

Fields said the judges did not give an end date to their volunteer service, "but they are retired, and we respect that. As we reduce some of the older civil cases, the need is going to be reduced."

The court began several efforts this year to reduce the civil case backlog. Four civil-trial-only courtrooms were opened, three in January at the former Hawthorne School in Riverside and one in September in Palm Springs.

An experimental program during the summer used volunteer lawyers at the downtown Historic Court to help settle some civil cases before trial.

The summer settlement effort was formalized into a Civil Mediation program that starts next month, with 36 participating attorneys trained last month by the Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution.

In the Historic Courthouse, Superior Court Judge Gary Tranbarger has also been hearing civil trials. The district attorney's office has an ongoing policy of filing papers to keep Tranbarger from hearing criminal cases.

Even as many cities are laying off their employees, Rialto's city council has seen fit to give itself a pay hike.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Later in the same meeting, the council voted to give its members 10 percent pay raises but rejected a proposal to accept $600-a-month car allowances.

Mayor Grace Vargas was sworn in by Councilman Joe Baca Jr. Councilmen Edward M. Palmer and Ed Scott were sworn in by City Clerk Barbara McGee, who also was re-elected.

Palmer unseated two-term Councilwoman Winifred "Winnie" Hanson.

He told his fellow council members that he would abstain from voting on the pay raises.

"It didn't seem right on my first night on the council to vote myself a raise," he said.

In Maywood, California, the mayor and two city council members facing a recall vote stemming from its controversial appointment of Al Hutchings to be an interim police chief of the city's beleaguered police department. Hutchings brought with him to the position, two firings including one from the Maywood Police Department for getting caught having sex with a woman on video and a conviction for petty theft. He would be the second interim chief in the row to have a criminal record.

After a threatened lawsuit by Deputy State Attorney General Lou Verdugo, Hutchings was ousted and replaced by the current leader.

(excerpt, Los Angeles Times)

Supporters of the recall drive said their campaign stemmed from the council's decision in February to appoint Al Hutchings, who was convicted of theft and resigned from the Los Angeles Police Department, as the city's interim police chief. Mayor Felipe Aguirre and council members Veronica Guardado and Ana Rosa Rizo are the targets of the recall effort.

"They voted three to two in favor of Alfred Hutchings," said Ramon Medina, 49, who hopes to unseat Aguirre in today's election. The auto repair shop owner said he voted for Aguirre when he first ran for office in 2005.

But after Hutchings' appointment, Medina said, he felt the mayor was not acting in the best interest of the city.

"I was disappointed because we've been hoping to take Maywood in a direction where the neighbors are living a normal life, having a safe community, a place where you enjoy living," Medina said. "We lost all of those feelings."

Hutchings' selection prompted protests from residents. Aguirre then asked Hutchings to step down and withdrew his support after meetings between the city and the state attorney general's office, which had been investigating allegations of wrongdoing by officers in the troubled Police Department. The Los Angeles County district attorney's office was also conducting an investigation, authorities said.

Two weeks after Hutchings' appointment, the City Council voted unanimously to appoint Maywood Police Cmdr. Frank Hauptmann as interim chief.

Three New York City Police Department officers have been indicted by a grand jury in connection with an alleged assault against a man in a subway station.

(excerpt, New York Daily News)

Officer Richard Kern faces trial for aggravated sexual abuse and assault, while fellow officers Alex Cruz and Andrew Morales were charged with trying to cover it up, Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes announced.

Authorities say two other cops testified about the attack before a grand jury and that the DNA of the accuser, Michael Mineo, was found on the baton.

"We're pleased that the grand jury has contemplated and given significant weight to very reckless and serious acts that were committed against my client," said Mineo's lawyer, Kevin Mosley.

More information on the indictments was provided by the New York Times.

Several hundred Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department deputies may be going to Washington, D.C. to work at the inauguration. However, some of the county's supervisors are cross about that.

Rioting continues in Greece since the officer-involved death of a 15-year-old teenager. Violence broke out during the funeral.

While salaries remain frozen at Belo Enterprises (which publishes the Press Enterprise, the CEO gives himself a raise.

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