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

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Taser shocks contribute to death but not delay in CPRC's investigation of Acevedo death


Art Gage Concedes Mayoral Race

But in San Bernardino Jim Penman waits to do so.

Riverside Mayoral Race

64.95% votes counted

Ron Loveridge: 11,175 69.99%

Art Gage: 4,791 30.01%

Source: Smart Voters

On the first anniversary of the officer-involved death of Marlon Acevedo in Riverside, California, the Riverside County Coroner's office stated that taser charges contributed to his death.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Dr. Scott McCormick, who performed the autopsy on Acevedo, said, in that case too, the Taser was one factor among many, the most important of which was PCP intoxication. Weighing all factors, including the proximity of Taser shocks to his time of death, McCormick decided the Taser should be listed as a factor.

"Absent the use of the Taser, he most likely still would have died. I don't think this is a reason to demonize the use of the Taser," McCormick said.

Riverside Police Department spokeswoman Sgt. Jaybee Brennan declined to comment on the case. Acevedo's family has sued in federal court, alleging wrongful death and excessive force.

Deputy Chief Boris Robinson of the Riverside County Sheriff's Department said this is the only case in which the coroner's office has cited Taser shocks as a contributing factor. Sandy Fatland, spokeswoman for the San Bernardino County coroner's office, said her office has never cited them as a factor.

One of the Inland people dying after being shocked was a 19-year-old at a mental health facility in San Bernardino. He appeared agitated and was wearing a gas mask when police tried to restrain him last month. Two others died in Riverside County in July and August after encounters with sheriff's deputies near Hemet and in Moreno Valley. Authorities said the men behaved as if they had mental problems or were under the influence of drugs. Details about the causes of death in all three cases have not been released.

It's interesting that the media was aware of the content of the autopsy report from the Riverside County Sheriff-Coroner's office months or perhaps years before the Community Police Review Commission has access to that same report. Maybe the city council should come up with other excuses besides the integrity of a criminal investigation when defending its collective actions against the CPRC fulfilling its charter mandate for investigating and reviewing officer-involved deaths. Especially since the city's legal representatives have claimed that the investigations of officers for incustody deaths by their investigations bureau aren't really criminal investigations at all in defense against two lawsuits filed by the Riverside Police Officers' Association in 2003 and in August 2009. The RPOA lawsuit filed two months ago also alleged that management and supervisory personnel in the department called one shooting "good" before the involved officers were even interviewed and that the department saw no reason to allow one of the involved officers in that shooting to retain a lawyer for his interview with investigators.

On Halloween, the Marlon Acevedo case became the third officer-involved death to hit its first year anniversary without the CPRC being allowed to investigate it since it was first barred by City Manager Brad Hudson and later by a majority of his city council from exercising its charter mandate, a responsibility given to it by the majority of the city's voters when Measure II passed in November 2004.

It's a practically a given that the fourth death, that of Russell Hyatt will probably hit its first year anniversary in mid January before the ban is lifted on the CPRC on investigating any of these deaths. Such is the state of the city council on this issue including those who have endorsed the passage of Measure II which was set up to protect the commission from exactly the same interference it's facing now.

At the time, the city council voted 5-2 to essentially bar the CPRC from doing investigations until after the police department had decided it was fine for it to do so, council members, department officials and Hudson and company assured the public that these delays would last six months at the most. As you can see from below, the city and department are 4 for 4 for officer-involved deaths that have passed the 180 day mark. The city council and Mayor Ron Loveridge who backed the council's decision last March owe the public an explanation as to why their forecast did not come to pass.

Luckily, the CPRC will provide them with this opportunity to do so given that the commission as neutered as it's become has voted 7-1 (with contracted employee Peter Hubbard naturally voting nay) to send another letter of "clarification" to Loveridge and the city council as to why these cases have been allowed to lag so long without the ban being lifted. It remains to be seen whether there will be anymore of a response to that letter than there was one sent last autumn not long after the Hudson directive was issued. It took a tremendous push to place what had taken place behind doors outside the public's eye into the public forums and place the city council and mayor in the position of having to publicly do what had intended to be done in private. And the leader of the movement to bar the commission from investigating incustody deaths, former councilman Frank Schiavone witnessed his voting support from several key neighborhoods in his ward evaporate and disappear, something that he perhaps is left to contemplate back in the private sector.

Here's the time line on the four outstanding officer-involved deaths in Riverside.

Carlos David Quinonez, Sr. (Latino) died Sept. 1, 2008: 426 days

Fernando Luis Sanchez (Latino)died Sept. 11, 2008: 416 days

Marlon Acevedo (Latino) died Oct. 31, 2008: 366 days

Russell Franklin Hyatt (White) died Jan. 17, 2009: 288 days

At its last meeting, some members of the CPRC sat and wondered whether it was usual for officer-involved death cases to be delayed this long by the police department and/or Riverside County District Attorney's office and no it is not. The previous record for a delayed case was about 300 days for the 2003 fatal shooting of Volne Lamont Stokes which had actually been completed by the Officer-Involved Death Investigation team earlier but had been placed on hold in the Internal Affairs Division headquarters until someone from the OID team could transport two copies, one to the D.A.'s office and the other to the CPRC at the same time. The cases before and after that took less than a year, with Summer Lane taking about eight months and Lee Deante Brown about seven before reaching the CPRC which of course per the charter had initiated its own investigations by that time.

And is the current load the highest the department ever had to investigate and review at one time? No, between November 2002 and December 2003, there were five officer-involved deaths and at least five nonfatal shootings, including three in April 2003.

As for the coroner in this case, it remains to be seen whether Taser International which manufactures the devices will sue for the striking of the use of tasers as even a contributing factor as the company did in Ohio.

Vote on Tuesday

Election day will be hitting this Tuesday, Nov. 3 so head for the polls if you haven't voted absentee. The Press Enterprise released its list of endorsements. This blog doesn't endorse in elections because it's up to every registered voter to educate themselves on the candidates running, the issues they stand for and behind and to come up with a voting decision they can be proud of or at least live with. The important thing is to go out and vote either in person or through absentee ballot rather than not participate at all. Don't opt out of the process because you don't think your vote counts for much or at all.

Riverside elections have been decided with as few as four to five votes. And more times than you might think especially lately, it's been by no more than a dozen or so votes, or even less.

And if you're eligible to vote and aren't registered then go out and get registered so you can participate in future elections because there's quite a few coming up in 2010 at the county, state and national level.

Here in Riverside, there is the mayoral race that has been playing out for the past several months.

Current Mayor Ron Loveridge is a long-time incumbent which makes him tough to beat and on his brochures, he's taking credit for issues that are usually dealt with by municipal legislative bodies particularly in a weak mayor system. It's difficult to compare him for better or worse with San Bernardino's mayor Patrick Morris because the role of mayor is much different in that city. On the other hand, the mayor is directly elected by voters citywide in Riverside whereas in some other cities like Moreno Valley, mayor's are appointed from and by council members who themselves were directly elected by voters in their legislative wards.

Former councilman, Art Gage is running as an "outsider" to a system he was once smack dab in the middle of and if he gets at least a third of the vote or so, it will be a win for him because he's probably hoping to get some name recognition for the first open mayoral election in years which is set for 2012. There's some pretty big names or more accurately, blasts from the past who are planning to line up for that one so a little recognition doesn't hurt.

There's also two really good write-in candidates in Ken Stansbury and Troy Kent, who's 18 and still in high school. Both are running to offer alternatives to the status quo in Riverside which many people believe has gone on for too long.

So don't forget to vote. It's your voice.

Former Riverside Police Department officer arraigned on 12 felony counts

Former Riverside Police Department officer David Reeves, jr. was arraigned on the 12 felony charges he faces and plead not guilty in front of presiding judge, Richard Fields in Riverside County Superior Court. He still remains in custody under $500,000 bail.

Operations Safe Parks, the revamping of an old program shared by the Riverside Police Department and the Parks and Recreation Department gets started back up again.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

"The best thing that happens is when the community contacts us and says, 'Hey, did you know there's an issue over here,' because we don't live in the neighborhood," Manning said in a phone interview.

At White Park, Manning said information from residents recently helped police solve about 30 burglaries in the Mount Rubidoux area and led to a sting resulting in the arrests of nine drug dealers.

"It was absolutely a result of the community partnership," Manning said.

Judy Cunningham, who lives a few blocks from White Park, is among the residents who started talking regularly with police.

Earlier this year, she noticed an increase in drug dealing and general loitering in the park. After the fenced park closed at dark, people would hang around outside the gates, she said Thursday while standing in the park.

"About six months ago it was crazy. You would walk through and there would be people over there and over there," Cunningham said, gesturing toward the trees and bushes along the fence line surrounding the park. "They would verbally say stuff to you or block the way."

More delays in the retrial of a man convicted of killing two Riverside Police Department officers in 1982. Both phases of the trial were kicked out by a higher court several years ago.

The revenue earnings by Riverside County continue to plunge.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

The county will again tap a contingency fund to stabilize the budget, but the revenue losses have pushed the structural deficit past $70 million. The gap is the difference between revenues and ongoing expenses, which are budgeted at $680 million.

"We will need every dollar in county reserves if we hope to manage multiple years of budget cuts that otherwise would decimate general-fund services," county Chief Executive Officer Bill Luna wrote in the report to the Board of Supervisors.

"While using reserves mitigates immediate issues, it does nothing to address our growing structural deficit and further erodes our fiscal safety net."

The county can achieve long-term fiscal stability by permanently cutting ongoing general-fund expenditures, Luna wrote.

"Our problems are complicated when adopted budget targets are not met, and projected revenues underperform estimates," Luna said.

Paul McDonnell, the county's chief financial officer, said the current budget did not adequately take into account the property tax revenues transferred to the newly incorporated cities of Menifee and Wildomar.

In addition, supplemental property tax refunds have skyrocketed, McDonnell said in an interview.

When a person buys a house, the owner receives a supplemental property tax bill. If the new value is more than before the sale, the owner gets an increased bill. If the opposite is true, the owner gets a refund check from the county.

With so many foreclosures, short sales and other distressed properties on the market, the refunds have dramatically increased, Assessor Larry Ward said in an interview.

"We don't send out a lot of bills right now," Ward said.

Norco gets its city manager by hiring its interim manager.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Norco Mayor Pro Tem Malcolm Miller said Friday that extending Groves' contract to become city manager is the best decision for the city.

"She's gotten a quick handle on what is important for the community," including economic development and historic preservation, Miller said.

He said he would like to see Groves focus over the next two years on preventing the city from continuing to dip into its reserves, generating new projects and continuing to work on existing ones that will bring tax revenue into the city. He also wants her to see a proposed waste-to-energy power plant to completion.

Miller said he expects one challenge Groves will face over the next two years is reducing city spending on public safety.

"I still believe that we're spending too much on public safety and we need to find ways to reduce those, find a way that's acceptable to citizens at an alternative price," Miller said.

Councilman Berwin Hanna said the decision to make Groves permanent just makes sense.

"She's already kind of familiar with the city and how we work. Then we wouldn't have to go out and go through another hiring procedure," Hanna said.

San Bernardino County unveiled its new courthouse but few people came to see it.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Disappointment at the low turnout showed clearly on the face of James C. McGuire, presiding judge of San Bernardino County Superior Court. Row after row of seats sat empty. Most of the cookies and punch on a table in the back of the room were untouched.

McGuire headed a list of municipal, civic and court leaders who attended the event, including San Bernardino Mayor Pat Morris and San Bernardino County District Attorney Mike Ramos.

To Morris and others, the 362,000-square-foot court building, projected to begin construction in 15 months, represents more than a utilitarian function of unclogging the county's court system. The new court complex is viewed as another way to revitalize a deteriorating downtown.

"This is a very important project for the county and for the city that is known as the county seat," Morris said, noting that a new transit center is planned two blocks away. "We think this will bring a new face to downtown."


Monday, Nov. 2 at 4 p.m. the Human Resources Board meets on the Fifth Floor conference room at City Hall. This meeting, Chief Russ Leach of the police department has been scheduled to appear. Will he get permission from his bosses in the city manager's office? It's hoped that he will be able to attend and speak to the board on what's going on in the police department, at least what can be talked about.

The board's agenda for this meeting is here. The Human Resources Board also has a Web site which is located here.

Tuesday, Nov. 3, at 3 p.m.
The city council will hold its typical election day abbreviated meeting meaning there will be no evening session. this agenda will tell you what you need to know.

The lawsuit filed against the city by Los Angeles Police Department Sgt. Wayne Guillary is back on the closed session agenda for the second time in several weeks. Does this mean the city's in settlement talks?

Friday, Nov. 6 at 2:30 p.m. The Finance Committee breaks its nearly year long drought on holding meetings and will discuss business on the Seventh Floor of City Hall. The agenda has been posted here and This report has been written by Asst. City Manager and Financial CEO Paul Sundeen.

Twitter De Dee

The blog Inside Riverside is on Twitter here and blogs about how much longer the Press Enterprise will last on Belo's watch.


Likewise, the Press-Enterprise/Press Enquirer destroyed its credibility by failing to conntain its opinions to the Editorial Page. When reporting on political matters, articles that could injury politicians the paper supported did not receive the proper coverage or were ignored entirely, as were articles that would be positive for elected officials The Press-Enterprise did not like.

But there is a silver lining in all of this.

The Press-Enterprise's failure to report certain news items and the Editorial Board's out-of-touch views of the world led to the birth of Inside Riverside.

Without the shortcomings of the Press Enquirer this blog never would have been born of necessity.

So we thank the leaders of the Press Enquirer for creating the opportunity to build this blog which has had an explosion of readership at the same time your once great newspaper is going the way of the Dodo.

More Press Enterprise Layoffs

Will there be more coming? The link above clicks to show layoffs six months ago. A few weeks ago, more employees including reporters were laid off. When will the hemorrhage end?

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