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, October 16, 2009

The Riverside Police Officers' Association sues the city

“It was a good shooting and that…he did not need an attorney and is not entitled to an attorney.”

---Departmental Captain John Carpenter and Sgt. Patrick Watters to Officer Daniel J. Floyd after he requested legal representation during questioning by investigators, according to the RPOA's lawsuit.

“They are a jumbled mess of conclusions of law, and the facts that are provided are contradictory and ambiguous.”

---The city in its motion for demurrer in the RPOA's lawsuit against the city.

"I can change that direction by not going into office to make friends inside Riverside City Hall in order to have a bigger political future for myself by 'playing the game'".

---Mayoral candidate Ken Stansbury on his Web site

"Brad Hudson can't run the police department. He's not qualified."

---Riverside mayoral candidate and former councilman, Art Gage at the Friday Morning Club meeting.

"All I can say is that drug addiction can cause people of all races, occupations, and statuses in life to make bad, desperate choices."

---"Shockwave" at the Press Enterprise Web site

A former RPD officer arraigned on 12 felony counts

Riverside Police Department officer David Reeves jr. was arraigned in Riverside County Superior Court on 12 felony charges including four counts of robbery, one count of attempted robbery, burglary and Assault with a deadly weapon, an gun. All the felony charges have enhancements involving the use of a gun to commit the crime. His charges stem from three armed robberies in Riverside and Moreno Valley, all of them auto parts stores within the past two weeks.

He also faces one enhancement of stolen property/public service which is PC F496(A).
Bail is currently set by $500,000 and Reeves intends to retain his own private counsel before his arraignment which has been rescheduled for Oct. 30.

The Riverside Police Officers' Association vs the City of Riverside

This labor development has been in the works for months but the Riverside Police Officers’ Association finally sued the city of Riverside on behalf of six of its police officers, alleging violations of due process in relation to state law and the Peace Officer Bill of Rights Act by other representatives of the police department when these individuals were interrogated involving internal investigations being conducted. It may or may not be followed by another similar lawsuit in relation to interrogations and procedure involving the investigations of officer-involved shootings. The RPOA last sued the city over investigative protocol for officer-involved deaths and/or shootings in August 2003.

The officers listed as plaintiffs in the action are Daniel J. Floyd, Sanchez Lopez, Juan Munoz, Paul Turner, Sgt. Ron Whitt and Giovanni Ili. These actions were alleged to have taken place January, February, March and December 2008. Below are a list of allegations made in the lawsuit.

According to the lawsuit, representatives of the police department interrogated and investigated petitioners without informing them about the nature of these interrogations and investigations and subjected them to offensive language, threatened punitive action, actually took punitive actions against petitioner and denied them representation during the interrogations and investigations. An investigation is currently open into the violations of this Act.

Officer Daniel J. Floyd

According to the lawsuit, the 2008 shooting by Daniel Floyd and David Reeves, jr. happened after they intervened in a drug sale. Floyd tried to detain seller. The driver tried to drive away and Floyd attempted to break windows and shut the vehicle off. The driver stopped vehicle and Reeves walked in front of it. The driver began to drive vehicle towards Reeves and Reeves shot that individual.

Floyd requested counsel from Vince Morris prior to an internal interrogation by department and DA. Department Captain John Carpenter and Sgt. Pat Watters told Floyd, “It was a good shooting and that…he did not need an attorney and is not entitled to an attorney.”

Because even though the witnesses and involved officers had yet to be interviewed, the investigation apparently was in a sense done. Which makes you wonder why so many officer-involved death investigations are over a year old now without reaching the Community Police Review Commission if the decision is made whether it's "good" or "bad" by supervisors and management personnel within the first few hours. Not that communities believe anything differently than this happening because the perception is strong that officers will back other officers no matter what and statements like these when they slip out in interrogation rooms and later through lawsuits don't exactly challenge that belief in a meaningful way. But anyway, the main point is that Floyd was apparently denied an attorney and if so, that's a violation of due process for criminal investigations and possibly of state evidence codes and the Peace Officer Bill of Rights as well. And that's what is being contested in this lawsuit.

But then you really have to forgive the lack of knowledge of these laws because Hudson and DeSantis probably haven't gotten to those pesky legal issues in their crash course they took when they decided to become police chiefs.

Julio Jaramillo, an attorney with the law firm on contract with the RPOA attempted to enter interrogation room and represent Floyd but Sgt. Derwin Hudson blocked him and informed them “You can’t come in…he doesn’t get an attorney because they are treating him as a witness.” He also said, “it’s not coming from me, they told me not to let you in.”

A side note, what's fascinating about Jaramillo representing Floyd is that when Jaramillo a former Santa Ana Police Department officer worked for the Riverside County Public Defender's office several years ago, he represented a woman on trial for battering Floyd and resisting arrest during an incident in Casa Blanca in October 2004. He cross-examined Floyd during that trial for over four hours. That experience provides a touch of irony in this case as he has clearly found himself on the other side of the proverbial coin but he's very acquainted with Floyd going into the interrogation.

A few days later Floyd was contacted by the department, to be interviewed to “clear up a few issues” and Floyd was not informed about it and the interview lasted 10 minutes.

Since this incident, management had stated “made a mistake by allowing [Petitioner Ili] to have an attorney. Will not allow attorneys in the future.”

This particular case is extremely fascinating for reasons included in relation to the allegations in the lawsuit but also because of the city's representation of officer-involved shootings (and deaths) being "criminal investigations" with "crime scenes" which need to be preserved from among other things private investigators hired by the Community Police Review Commission. But the funny thing is that here, the city's taking the same position that it did in a motion for summary judgment that it filed against a similar lawsuit filed by the RPOA in 2003, and that's insisting that as far as the officers are concerned, these type of onduty incidents are not criminal investigations.

According to the city, the officers are victims and witnesses, not criminal suspects and the purposes of their interviews is not to interrogate potential criminal defendants but to get information that is equivalent to what would be provided in a written report. This may or may be what's really involved here, but it's always been the city's position in legal documents that officer-involved shootings and/or deaths are not criminal investigations. The city and some department heads have rhapsodised on about how these are sensitive criminal investigations when its legal position (and probably procedural as well) is that if anyone is being subjected to a criminal investigation, it's the person who was shot and/or killed by the officer. If that person is deceased as in a fatal shooting for example, then that person can never be charged with a crime. So that criminal investigation as the city defines it is over.

It's ridiculous to continue to hold the CPRC hostage over its officer-involved death investigations by claiming that these cases involve sensitive criminal investigations when the city makes it clear over and over in responses to litigation filed by the RPOA that it believes the opposite. It did this during the RPOA's lawsuit filed in 2003 and it has already done so with the current one filed in autumn 2009, roughly one year after first the city manager's office and then the majority of the city council by vote essentially brought the CPRC's ability to effectively carry out its charter mandate to investigate incustody deaths to an end.

And if these officer-involved deaths and/or shootings are indeed criminally investigated by the department, then get these officers their attorneys already or be quiet when selling the city residents a stolen bag of goods about things like the integrity of the crime scene being jeopardized by CPRC investigators. Because the city is trying to have it both ways and it can't.

Officers Sancho Lopez and Juan Munoz

On Feb. 22, 2008 Department Sergeant Denny Corbett called Lopez in his office to discuss why Lopez and Munoz did not take police reports on a vandalism. After that meeting, Lopez went to write the report. Lopez is informed that Lt. Guy Touissant wants to speak with him. Lopez went to meet with Toussaint. Toussaint immediately yelled at Lopez stating that he was “pissed off” and that Lopez had blown Corbett off and that his answers to Corbett were “bullshit.” Toussaint accused Lopez of lying and threatened that he would “do Juan and Lopez”. Toussaint pushed a copy of PC 135 towards Lopez and said he was thinking of calling DA to file criminal charges against Lopez and Munoz for destruction of evidence.

Toussaint then allegedly threatened to remove Lopez from FTO program and retrain all his trainees.

“You make a blue rag look like shit”—Toussaint allegedly said to Lopez.

Ten minutes later, Lopez was called in by Toussaint and given a chance to “make it right” by going back to reporting party and taking report. Corbett later apologized to Lopez for the incident and said that Lopez and Munoz would receive a negative preliminary investigations report. Lopez and Munoz were told they wouldn’t be allowed to ride together until the investigation was over. Lopez was never given Miranda or Lybarger (a compelled statement can not be used against him by criminal investigators or prosecutors although this doesn't apply to federal agencies) before being threatened with the criminal charges, according to the lawsuit.

Officer Paul Turner

In March 2008, Turner was called into the department watch commander’s office and interrogated about a traffic collision hit and run that Petitioner Turner disputes the occurrence of though it doesn't elaborate on whether Turner was involved in it or took a report on one. If it were the former, then the allegations of him not being mirandized or given the Lynbarger admonition would make more sense than if he were just there taking a report or had actually witnessed it.

Still, Turner allegedly had asked for a RPOA representative and was denied. He was never advised that he was under investigation by the department. He was never given Miranda and Lynbarger admonition prior to being interrogated by the alleged criminal hit and run violation.

Officer Giovanni Ili

He was involved in an officer-involved shooting. At first management denied Ili access to RPOA representation but then they finally relented. The department or city's attorneys later called the denial of attorney a "harmless error".

Sgt. Ron Whitt

On Dec. 17, 2008, Whitt was reassigned from Special Operations Bureau to the Field Operation Bureau. He was informed that the reassignment was due to a “perception issue” and if he failed to be reassigned voluntarily, he would be “packaged up and mov[ed] anyway[s].” Whitt lost his 3% bonus pay that came from that assignment and he wasn’t provided with an administrative hearing to appeal it.

The legal action alleges multiple violations of governmental codes that were committed by the department's management.

The lawsuit asks that the court issue a permanent injunction against further violations of the act and that the city pays attorney's fees, back pay to the officers with interest and reinstates Whitt to his old position in the Special Operations Bureau.

The city responds

The city filed a motion to demurrer to try to throw the lawsuit out and in it, states that the petition should be denied by the judge because it is “uncertain, vague and ambiguous, unintelligible and contradictory”. The city alleged that Lopez wasn’t interrogated but was questioned and admonished in the normal course of duty and that initially denying Ili an attorney was a harmless error. The city stuck mostly to semantic issues when addressing the allegations in the lawsuit rather than substantive.

The city also argued that the lawsuit was formulated incorrectly in violation of a state rule of court.

“They are a jumbled mess of conclusions of law, and the facts that are provided are contradictory and ambiguous", the city claimed.

The attorneys for the city also claimed that both Floyd and Turner knew they were being interrogated while they had claimed they did not. Even if the people weren’t notified, it was a harmless error on the part of the department.

Toussaint’s reprimand was called an “informal verbal admonishment" given to an officer by the city. It's interesting that the city didn't challenge the actual content of this reprimand or challenge Toussaint's alleged use of colorful language. If that's the case, is using profanity the city's idea of an informal reprimand and the lack of the use of such language called a formal one? Of course, it's just as possible that Toussaint never said these things but then the city really should be defending him on that if that's the case as that would be the appropriate action to take.

This lawsuit is just getting started as the RPOA is currently accepting nominations from its members in anticipation of the upcoming biennial president's election. A couple individuals were thinking of running including one patrol officer who said he would carry the patrol division but that he probably wouldn't run and a sergeant and a couple members of the RPOA board or committees both long time members who might be thinking about it as well. The election if called will be held probably in November with the new term starting at the beginning of next year.

It's raining Police law suits at Riverside City Hall

If you happen to look at an agenda of the Riverside City Council meeting that is going to be held Tuesday, Oct. 20 at City Hall, you'll notice that the list of closed session items has increased a bit in the past month or so. This week, there's a plethora of litigation and "anticipated" litigation. And there are included on the docket two lawsuits filed involving the police department on the wake of discussion talks by the city council at an earlier meeting about the lawsuit filed by Los Angeles Police Department Sgt. Wayne Guillary against the department alleging racial profiling and excessive force during an incident in late 2008.

Just look at the agenda where there are two lawsuits filed by individuals in the Riverside Police Department. Both of the lawsuits including the most recent one filed by the RPOA will be covered in future postings of this blog. But as far as the city's concerned, most of the discussions involving the lawsuit filed by Lt. Tim Bacon and Lt. Darryl Hurt and the lawsuit filed by the Riverside Police Officers' Association (which is outlined above), all the discussion will take place in absolute secrecy behind closed doors. In fact, if you click the above links, there's actually nothing about the lawsuits except the parties involved and the case number, plus a bunch of generic language which is part of a form letter.

But just like any lawsuit, there's a lot going on behind closed doors and inside court rooms in both federal and state court with these case. The issues arising in both lawsuits and any future ones that are filed will be the topics of analysis and discussion in the weeks and months ahead as the police department faces a multitude of issues. Also to be discussed is the historic role of the city manager in the operations of the police department, most particularly that involving current City Manager Brad Hudson and his assistant, Tom DeSantis as well as the role of City Attorney Gregory Priamos.

Not to mention the diminishing role of Police Chief Russ Leach who doesn't appear to have been given hardly any autonomy by his bosses to run his own department. And this case could be one example of what can happen when city administrators start expanding their role to running individual departments including those in public safety. A police chief like Leach is probably cognizant about labor laws pertaining to peace officers whereas the knowledge of the city manager's office might or might be just enough to fill up the space on a postage stamp because their education is usually not that specific. If there are indeed labor violations such as these occurring inside the police department, then that would because people inside it are either not running the agency or being directed to run it in a specific way by an entity outside of it because police chiefs usually have the experience and acknowledgment of their specific area of management as part of their profession to avoid these problems and Leach certainly is no exception to that.

The lawsuit filed by Lt. Tim Bacon and Lt. Darryl Hurt speaks more through the allegations to whether or not outside entities are micromanaging the police department including Hudson, DeSantis and even then and current members of the city council, all of whom were named as defendants and/or were prominently mentioned in the lawsuit.

Because it's only been three years and some months since the dissolution of the stipulated judgment and the police department has definitely gone off-track. The city council as a body in its worship fest involving Hudson (including city council members who chair committees and wait to be told by Hudson or one of his assistant managers to be told what to do including when to hold meetings) has allowed him and DeSantis to continue to micromanage a police agency. According to former councilman and current mayor, Art Gage, Hudson had been the topic of some discussions on his handling of the police department at least two years ago and at the time, he had promised to stop micromanaging it. But apparently, that behavior is still continuing and it will be the topic of discussion in the continuing series of blog postings, Too Many Chiefs in the RPD's Kitchen.

Micromanagement 101's more humorous side

This one's kind of funny and it involves one of the most micromanaged entities at City Hall which is naturally the CPRC. Either DeSantis or his conduit of choice, CPRC Manager Kevin Rogan submitted a memo to commissioners listing the criteria for when the members of the CPRC could and couldn't wear their own shirts designating them as commissioners which they bought and paid for out of their own pockets. And then telling them they had to turn them into the city manager's office when their terms expired.

Okay, what is wrong with this picture? And you would think that DeSantis would be the last individual in a position to tell people how and when to appropriately represent themselves while wearing uniforms representing the city. Let's put DeSantis in a room with CPRC commissioners and ask them all to raise their hands if they were ever wearing their city or CPRC shirts when someone called 911 reporting them. It's highly likely that only one hand would be going up in that room.

Mayoral Candidate Art Gage appears at the Friday Morning Club

About 30 people congregated at the Friday Morning Club's meeting to listen to former councilman and current mayoral candidate Art Gage who answered their questions and presented his platform to them. They asked questions about issues including the red light photo cameras in the city's intersections, to the financial accountability of City Hall to issues involving trash and utility rates. It's been interesting to see Gage's populist campaign in action. It's difficult to know what to make of it at all but he's provided an interesting counterpart as the outsider to Mayor Ron Loveridge's stance as the ultimate insider at City Hall but given that he is going to have a tough time to win here, he's likely trying to build a base from which to run in 2012 when four-year terms are back in vogue and there won't be an incumbent.

Gage also discussed the city council's apparent decision to allow Hudson, its direct employee to run the city including the police department.

He also said that as mayor, he would within the 30 days bring all the stakeholders involved in the situation involving the CPRC's inability to "do its job" and conduct independent investigations of officer-involved deaths and they wouldn't leave the room until the consensus was reached to allow the commission to do its job. He felt that it was the mayor who was in the best position to help address issues such as that one. Gage was one of the biggest detractors of the CPRC and it remains to be seen if an adversary of the commission might be a bigger asset to it than its so-called "allies" on the dais including Loveridge. Because with friends like won't have a functional police commission much longer.

He also said that when he was a member of the Planning Commission, the Chinatown issue had come before them and the County Office of Education which owns the property including Chinatown could only build on it if it was parking, with dirt to protect the ground or a monument. He felt that the Chinatown should be rebuilt to serve as a site to preserve the history and attract tourists.

Press Enterprise Columnist Dan Bernstein wrote about his visit to Casa Blanca in Riverside where a community meeting was held inviting Riverside County Superior Court Judge Roger Luebs to address controversial remarks he made at the sentencing hearing after a murder trial.


Longtime Casa Blanca activist Morris Mendoza sat across from the bow-tied judge in a small conference room and told him: "I felt outraged. A lot of people work hard to better this community."

Danny Garcia, a Caltrans manager and CB resident: "I took it personally," and others did, too.

What did Luebs say that so offended this group? "Neighborhood" and "community." He didn't say Casa Blanca, but our story did, since this is where the killings occurred.

"When you say 'community' or 'neighborhood,' " Mendoza told Luebs, "it narrows it down. We've been working on solutions."

This may sound like a silly discussion, but it's not. There's a lot going on beneath the surface, and it can pretty much be capsulized in four words:

"You don't know us."

You don't know about our library, our park, our recreation programs. You don't know how much we're knocking ourselves out to give kids no excuse for getting hooked up with gangs and crime.

I don't think that's entirely fair to Luebs, who's lived in Riverside for years and does know about some of these things. But as long as there's the perception that a judge is sitting on high and sounding off on something he knows little about, his words -- especially if they can be misinterpreted -- will always trump bigger problems and common interests.

As the meeting went on, Luebs allowed that he should have worded his remarks differently. But that didn't change the guts of what he had to say, and he got no argument when he said it: "Gang violence is a real problem, and the city of Riverside doesn't take it as seriously as it should." It's as if it is "someone else's problem." And not just in CB.

This violence is tolerated, Luebs said. Maybe not encouraged, but enabled and accepted.

The result: Not the same old grizzled gangbangers wreaking the same old mayhem, but "a new generation of gangbangers." This will continue "until we bring other resources to bear ... a broad community response by school districts, services clubs," etc.

What Luebs said here is what he should have said at the hearing, that the gang problems in Riverside are city issues not just neighborhood ones. After all, the latest hate group and perhaps gang in the making, the Neo Nazis just protest in Casa Blanca once in a while, they don't live there.

Hemet is $800,000 in the red

Is the city of Hemet in financial trouble? The financial situation is pretty bleak.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Hemet also faces the prospect of having to turn over $4.4 million in redevelopment money to the state, said interim city Finance Director Thomas Kanarr.

"That's a big chunk of the reserves we have left in the Redevelopment Agency," Kanarr said this week during a presentation to the City Council.

Revised budget estimates after the first quarter of fiscal year 2009-10, which was July through September, show sales tax revenue continues to be weak and federal grants remain elusive.

Hemet officials failed to get a $312,000 federal grant for traffic enforcement. The city also received less than half of a $772,000 grant sought for more police officers.

City officials plan to reapply for or seek other grants, particularly federal stimulus money.

Hemet has slashed almost 30 police and fire jobs as well as dozens of other positions over the past year.

Another Mayoral Candidate Web site

Mayoral candidate Ken Stansbury who is running as a write-in has gone online.
Ken Stansbury 4 mayor. Go check it out.

He's also appearing at the Friday Morning Club's meeting next Friday, Oct. 23 at 10 am at the Janet Goeske Center on Sierra, near Streeter.

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