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, January 28, 2009

CPRC briefed on the Hyatt shooting; Now the wait begins...


Former Riverside Police Department Officer Robert Forman's preliminary hearing transferred to Dept. #3 in the Riverside County Superior Court's older courthouse. He's facing three felony charges of onduty sexual misconduct filed against him in October.

Court records provided more information on an incident in Rubidoux where four Riverside Police Department officers became trapped in a residence while serving a warrant and were rescued by other law enforcement officers from different agencies who responded including the Riverside Police Department SWAT Team.

Officers Darren Hill, David CastaƱeda, Eric Hibbard and Michael Crawford were placed on administrative leave after the incident which ultimately led to the arrest of Joe Luis Armenta.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

According to the declaration in support of an arrest warrant, the officers went to the home at about 9 p.m. on Jan. 6 to arrest Armenta on an outstanding San Bernardino County warrant for being a felon in possession of a firearm.

After no one responded to a knock at the door, CastaƱeda and Hibbard went around back and entered the home through a second story balcony door, triggering an alarm system, according to the declaration.

Meanwhile, the other officers identified themselves and demanded entry, which the man inside refused.

When shooting erupted inside the home, Hill and Crawford climbed in through the same balcony window.

But the four officers were pinned down on the second floor when Armenta hid in a downstairs laundry room that had a direct line of fire to the escape route and began using his red laser sight to search out the officers.

The declaration does not give details of the rescue.

Capt. Mark Boyer of the Riverside Police Department gave the department's presentation on its initial investigation into the fatal officer-involved shooting of Russell Franklin Hyatt to the Community Police Review Commission.

The police department had received calls for service on Saturday, Jan. 17 about Hyatt threatening to kill himself with his handgun. Boyer responded to a question from a commissioner about whether he had threatened to shoot other family members by saying yes. An earlier Press Enterprise article stated that Hyatt's wife had said that he had only threatened to shoot himself and hadn't aimed the gun at any of the family members.

Another call was made to the police and Hyatt was found on Mulberry Street

Hyatt lied on his stomach on the ground and aimed his weapon and then got up on his knees and according to the police department, aimed his weapon. One officer who was not identified (and that's more the trend with shootings in recent months despite a legal opinion on the issue released by State Attorney General Jerry Brown) fired twice, hitting Hyatt once and a garage. The handgun found on Hyatt was later found to belong to an acquaintance and Hyatt had taken it without this person's permission.

More on the Hyatt death here.

Boyer said that no shotgun was discharged in the incident as stated in a Press Enterprise article and he wasn't sure where that information had come from.

The Press Enterprise article on the Hyatt shooting is here.

The department press release on the shooting is here.

For the first time, no one on the CPRC requested or proposed a motion that the commission launch an investigation into the death of Hyatt. Some members including City Attorney Gregory Priamos and Asst. City Manager Tom DeSantis who sat in the audience for a while perhaps waiting for something like that to happen before leaving the meeting, which was actually one of the shortest meetings in recent memory clocking in at just around two hours.

If you can recall, the CPRC approved motions to launch independent investigations into the deaths of Carlos Quinonez, Fernando Sanchez and Marlon Acevedo, but Executive Manager Kevin Rogan refused to contact one of the commission's two investigative firms to conduct an investigation on any of these cases. In addition, City Manager Brad Hudson had authorized City Attorney Gregory Priamos to serve as the CPRC' s Treasurer and to refuse to allow the commission to spend any of the funding provided in its annual budget for investigations.

However, the commissioners who have made motions to have the commission initiate investigations have either had their efforts thwarted by Priamos' rather opportunistic interpretation of the Brown Act or by letters sent to them by Councilman Frank Schiavone. The CPRC will have yet another stake driven into its heart at the Governmental Affairs Committee (which is chaired by Schiavone) on Feb. 4 at 3 p.m. on the Seventh Floor of City Hall.

The CPRC is still discussing the drafting of a public report in connection to the Oct. 19 fatal officer-involved shooting of Joseph Darnell Hill. Yes, the correct year is 2006. It's taken over two years for this case to return to the CPRC and undergo its process there. This is what the CPRC has to look forward to in the upcoming years since the Hudson directive essentially grounded its ability to investigate officer-involved deaths in an independent, parallel and timely manner.

More questions came up from Leslie Braden, who's Hill's sister over conflicting statements given by the officers and civilian witnesses regarding whether or not Hill had one of the officer's taserin his position when he was shot and killed.

One civilian witness had said that Hill was reaching for a taser assigned to Officer Giovanni Ili when he was shot by Officer Jeffrey Adcox. Both Adcox and Ili said that Hill had the taser in his hands when he was shot. The department's investigative team tried to collect DNA samples and latent fingerprints off of the device but were unable to obtain usable samples for identification purposes.

Jim Ward said that he was concerned that Ili had said in his interview that he had turned on his department-equipped digital recorder when Hill began to get argumentative but transcripts of Ili's recording include only a conversation with a witness that took place after the shooting. Adcox recorded portions of his second contact with Hill but not his first contact, even though while interviewed by detectives, Adcox said he regularly activated his digital recorder before he left his vehicle.

Brian Pearcy, who chairs the commission responded to Braden's concern about the exclusion of one fact which was that Adcox had run a check on Hill's license and it had come back "1030" meaning that he wasn't on probation or parole.

The commission moved past the fact listing phase and went to the policy certification phase where they asked for training on tasers, use of force and collecting fingerprints. Executive Manager Kevin Rogan said he was trying to schedule the training with the police department's training division which had undergone a supervisor shift change but that it probably wouldn't be soon.

Information from the investigations into the Hill shooting.

Riverside Police Department's Officer-Involved Death investigation

CPRC investigator's report

After nearly six weeks, the new police station located in the downtown bus terminal finally received its signage. The station serves as the new home for both the North Neighborhood Policing Center and the Internal Affairs Division. It's a mystery why it took so long for the signage to appear on the building that's been housing the Internal Affairs Division since mid-December and why the general services was only given two weeks notice that the division would be moved from its former digs on Central Avenue by the city manager's office. The general services representatives who were assessing the site several weeks ago did say that work remained to be done both on the exterior and interior portions of the building.

However, what was interesting about the new signs is that one of them designated the right section of the terminal building as being used to house both the NPC and the Internal Affairs Division, which if that's true would be quite crowded and not provide the separation for the two divisions that city representatives assured would be there.

The woes of the Internal Affairs Division since its move were noted in a matter of speaking by CPRC Executive Manager Kevin Rogan when asked to update the commission on the complaint review process going paperless. He said that the Internal Affairs Division representative said that he was working on it but that the division was still in the process of adjusting to its relocation.

The building is scheduled for a water blasting to improve its appearance and more cement signage is being constructed for the parking area of the police facility.

An environmentalist group and the city of Riverside settled a lawsuit over growth and development of housing projects.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Friends of Riverside's Hills sued, saying the plan was flawed because it failed to adequately consider the substantial environmental impacts it could cause.

Under the settlement, the city agreed to several changes to the plan meant to strengthen environmental protections and improve quality of life.

Friends' member Len Nunney and Supervising Deputy City Attorney Kristi Smith said the document is better as a result of the settlement.

"The issues on which we felt most strongly got a reasonable response" from the city, said Nunney, a biology professor at UC Riverside.

The council has approved the settlement and is set to vote Feb. 10 to enact the changes, Smith said.

Plymouth Towers is getting renovated.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

In the next 40 days, Ensign awaits the state's approval of new skilled nursing and independent living licenses for Plymouth. On the applications filed by the company they listed the facility's new name, Plymouth Tower Care and Rehabilitation Center, Stapley said.

Meanwhile, he said they plan to "enhance its hominess" through an interior remodel.

"We expect to spend a sizable sum, at least 7 figures in the next two years," Stapley said. "The city is very much interested in keeping the building open."

The privately owned, publicly traded Ensign Group rescued the seven-story tower from closing. Ensign is in still in escrow to buy the building from Long Beach-based Retirement Housing Foundation for more than $1 million.

The Jean Grier Leadership Academy has graduated many people committed to civic participation.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

The Riverside African American Historical Society and The Group started the academy with the help of a three-year, $90,000 grant from the James Irvine Foundation and named it after a late teacher and civil-rights leader in Riverside.

The course covers subjects from public speaking and volunteerism to financial literacy and raising funds. Many civic leaders, from elected officials to nonprofit heads, speak to the classes.

The academy has graduated 48 women and 19 men, including 57 blacks, seven Latinos, two whites and one person of mixed ethnicity, said Patricia Byrd, project coordinator.

The participants have come from across the Inland region -- 36 from Riverside, 14 from Moreno Valley and others from Corona, Perris, Rialto, San Bernardino and Ontario, Byrd said.

At least 15 of the academy's alumni meet monthly to continue their education and engage in community service, such as volunteering to help with the Martin Luther King Walk-A-Thon in Riverside and at local candidate forums, Vaughn-Blakely said.

The academy is applying for another three-year grant from the foundation and is seeking corporate sponsorships, she said.

The Grier Leadership Academy can be reached at 951-682-5306.

The Group meets on the first and third Thursdays of each month from 7-8:30 a.m. at the Coffee Depot in downtown Riverside (on Seventh Street and Vine). There's guest speakers usually local politicians or city employees and discussions of community events and issues.

The Hemet Children's Museum is getting another chance from private donors. This saved the museum from the same fate it suffered at its former home in Riverside on the corner of University and Main.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Fingerprints Youth Museum, formerly known as KidZone Youth Museum, which serves children from throughout the Inland region, is no longer in danger of closing. However, it still needs financial support to remain viable, said Bob Duistermars, president and chief executive officer of the nonprofit organization that now runs the museum.

"It's an amazing community asset and we're working to keep it on the right track," Duistermars said.

The museum, which serves many low- and moderate-income families, features about a dozen interactive children's exhibits, including a miniaturized world for kids with a police station, medical office and more; play areas for toddlers; and rooms for rent for children's parties.

In late 2007, the then-board of KidZone stunned community members by announcing that the museum would close by the end of the year unless a funding source could be found.

Museum supporters came forward, allowing the facility to remain open until United Communities Network, a Hemet-based organization that spun off from Central County United Way, took control of the museum a few months later.

The ACLU of Orange County sent a letter to Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens to limit taser use to when officers experience a threat of death or bodily injury.

(excerpt, Los Angeles Times)

Further, the group recommended that the department revise its policy to provide more specific guidelines and clarifications for deputies about Taser use.

"There's a real question of what situations you're going to allow Tasers to be used in, and whether you think it is a lethal force weapon or no," said Hector Villagra, director of the Orange County office of the ACLU.

"Our initial recommendation is to classify it as a lethal force weapon; if you don't do it, then we think you have to seriously consider the limitations of its use and application in various circumstances," he said.

Moreno Valley's offering incentives for its employees to retire early.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

The City Council approved a plan Tuesday to give workers credit for two additional years' service with the California Public Employees' Retirement System if they decide to apply for early retirement.

"We're making it available, and it's voluntary," City Manager Bob Gutierrez said by phone.

CalPERS provides retirement and health benefits to more than 1.6 million public employees in California.

Benefits are calculated by age, salary and length of service in CalPERS, so getting credit for two more years of service would increase those benefits.

Having employees retire early would save Moreno Valley money on salaries and benefits.

The city would have to pay CalPERS to give the employees the two years' credit, but that cost would be paid out over 20 years, city Human Resources Director Chris Paxton said by phone.

Workers must be at least 50 years old, have been a member of CalPERS for at least five years and must file for retirement between March 28 and June 26, Paxton said.

About 135 employees are eligible, he said.

Different cities and counties are taking steps like this one to cut their annual budgets including Riverside County.

Cyberbulling among high school students gets an examination as it's a growing problem faced by teenagers who use computers to go online.

Several demonstrations and marches planned in Riverside in response to the fatal officer-involved shooting of Annette Garcia by Riverside County Sheriff's Department deputies near Lake Matthews.

Here's what the local response is so far:

THURSDAY JAN. 29TH:Candlelight vigil and Press Conference at Cesar Chavez Community Center in Riverside (University Ave., two blocks west of Iowa Ave. All actions have been called by Brown Berets de Aztlan, Riverside Chapter.

SATURDAY JAN. 31ST:Rally and Protest at Cesar Chavez Community Center at 10m1pm (same day) Press Conference. March route not determined yet, possibly will meet at 10m, march downtown to police station, with press conference there at 1pm.

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