California Police Abuse and Police Brutality
12/21/2005 - A veteran Napa police officer resigned Dec. 15 from the department following misdemeanor criminal charges filed against him by the Napa County District Attorney's Office on Wednesday.
Napa Police Sgt. Gil Gallegos is looking at charges of attempted extortion and making harassing telephone calls.
Details of the charges against Gallegos, who has been with the department for about 22 years, were not available Wednesday.
As of Wednesday night, Gallegos had not been arrested. The district attorney's office has sent a letter to him, ordering him to appear in court, at which time Gallegos will be informed of the charges filed against him.
The date of his court appearance was not available Wednesday night.
Several months ago, an incident was brought to the attention of the Napa Police Department involving Gallegos, Napa Police Cmdr. Steve Potter said.
The investigation into the allegations against Gallegos were turned over to the Napa County Sheriff's Department investigation bureau.
Once the sheriff's department finished its investigation, they forwarded the findings to the district attorney's office and requested the misdemeanor charges be filed against Gallegos.
"It's not our case any more. The matter is now with the district attorney's office," Napa Police Chief Rich Melton said.
Melton said when allegations of misconduct come to the department's attention, "we are required to investigate the incident. It can be hard when it involves a veteran officer, but the officer has to be held accountable and held to the same standards as any other citizen."
During his tenure with the Napa Police Department, Gallegos has been a patrol officer, a member of the detective bureau, a hostage negotiator and a youth services officer. His latest assignment was as a patrol administrative sergeant.
12/21/2005 - SAN FRANCISCO - San Francisco police Officer Michael Turkington, 35, was arrested Wednesday night for alleged violations of oral copulation, false imprisonment, and providing marijuana, the San Francisco Police Department reported.
Turkington allegedly committed these acts in late 2004 while on duty and `under the color of authority,` according to the Police Department. Turkington was assigned to the Taraval police station at the time of the alleged violations.
The female victim informed the Police Department about the alleged violations in Nov. 2005. The special investigations divisions of the Police Department investigated the case.
Turkington was booked at the San Francisco County jail. His bail was set at $500,000.
Turkington is presently under suspension from the Police Department and is awaiting trial in connection with separate charges related to contributing to the delinquency of minors,
12/20/2005 - SAN DIEGO -- A former San Diego police sergeant will spend one year of house arrest for having sex with two 16-year-old girls.
Officer Toby Peale Freestone, 40, was sentenced after pleading guilty Monday to statutory rape.
Court documents say the girls were given alcohol and one was unconscious when the crimes were committed last year.
Freestone will spend five years on probation after his house arrest.
12/05/2005 - The weapons used by three Kern County jailers to kill a defenseless inmate in August were simple, District Attorney Ed Jagels said Thursday.
"Boot. Fist. Elbow," he said.
Sheriff's officials arrested five of their own Thursday -- some on suspicion of murder and others solely on suspicion of assault.
James Moore of Bakersfield was bound, hand and foot, when three detention deputies struck heavy blows to his head on Aug. 15, Jagels said.
Moore, 30, died of blunt force head trauma six days later at Mercy Hospital, according to coroner's reports.
Arrested on second-degree murder charges were Daniel Thomas Lindini, 48; Ralph Contreras, 32,; and Roxanne Fowler, 41, according to Jagels and jail records.
Lindini is a 23-year veteran of the department. Contreras and Fowler have 11 and 10 years of experience, respectively, the department said.
Two other jailers, 34-year-old Angel Lopez Bravo and 20-year-old Lisa Diane Romero, struck unnecessary but non-lethal blows to Moore's body, Jagels alleged Thursday.
Both face charges of assault under the color of authority and were released after posting $50,000 bail Thursday, officials said. Bravo was hired by the department 10 years ago while Romero was hired in June, according to the department.
All of the suspects were booked into the downtown jail where the beating occurred months ago.
Moore was arrested Aug. 15 on suspicion of making threats after he got into an argument with the mother of his younger son, his family and sheriff's officials said.
Jagels said Moore got into a total of four "violent confrontations" with jail staffers that same day, but the jailers' actions were only criminal during the fourth incident.
"Mr. Moore was acting extremely irrationally and violently. According to all the witnesses, he was incredibly strong," Jagels said.
Jagels added Moore wasn't under the influence of drugs because a test done at the time of his arrest ruled that out.
During the first three incidents, detention personnel used a baton, pepper spray and a carotid-artery hold to try to subdue Moore, according to the investigation of the incidents, Jagels said. No criminal violations were found in those incidents, Jagels said.
The fourth incident was another story.
It began when detention deputies took Moore into the parking garage, intending to put him in a patrol car and take him to Kern Medical Center, Jagels said. They wanted him checked out because of the artery hold and because of his behavior, Jagels said.
Detention officials cuffed Moore's hands to a waist restraint and they restrained his legs, Jagels said.
Moore was on the ground when one detention deputy kicked his head, Jagels said. After Moore was strapped to a gurney, he said, multiple deputies hit Moore in the head with their fists and elbows.
"The victim was completely restrained, could not present a danger to anyone," Jagels said. "The amount of force was not justified."
The investigation of the beating began when a sheriff's deputy who witnessed part of the incident wrote a memo to a supervisor, Jagels said.
With the criminal investigation completed, Wimbish said, an internal affairs investigation will proceed within the department.
Jagels praised sheriff's investigators for the thoroughness of their work in the case.
"No stone was left unturned," he said.
The investigation took months to complete because some tissue samples were sent to a private lab for analysis, Jagels said.
After more than three months of waiting, Moore's sister, Josie Chapman, said she didn't know exactly how to feel.
"I don't want to say I'm glad someone was charged with murder because I wish it had never happened," she said. "I have mixed emotions about what these people's families will go through."
Lawyer David Cohn, who represents Moore's son James Jr. in a lawsuit against the Sheriff's Department, said he's not sure the public is getting the entire story on the beating.
Cohn said he found it "perplexing" that Jagels differentiated between the four incidents in August, which he described as "beatings," not "confrontations."
"The facts have not come out in this case. I think we're a long way from the truth," he said. "How much can we trust the department to investigate itself?"
Cohn questioned the culture in the department, recalling an embarrassing incident in 2003 when photos of joke Kern County sheriff's car decals that read "We'll Kick Your Ass" appeared on the Internet.
"Apparently, that (kick your ass) message was a message that was given to the jailers," Cohn said.
James Moore Jr. said he used to play video games and fish with his dad, but he knew what he'd miss most of all.
"Just having him around," the 13-year-old said Thursday.
Lawyer Daniel Rodriguez, who represents Moore's young son Bryce in a lawsuit against the Sheriff's Department, said the family wants justice. A trial date in that case was scheduled Wednesday for July 2007.
"We just hope the District Attorney's office is as interested in prosecuting killer cops as they are cop killers," he said Thursday.
A second-degree murder conviction carries a penalty of 15 years to life. An assault under the color of authority conviction carries penalties of 16 months, two years or three years, Jagels said.
The five suspects were scheduled to appear in court on Monday, according to jail records.
Wimbish said the jailers remained on paid administrative leave Thursday, but that could change after their court appearance.
"They haven't been proven to be wrong," he said.
12/01/2005 - The publication of former OPD Officer Eugene Ralph Jennings’ testimony about the murder of Robert “Li’l Bobby” Hutton on April 6, 1968, will never soften the blow that African American communities withstand when their members are murdered at the hands of racist police.
According to Jennings, many Oakland police officers were recruited from Florida and brought with them racist attitudes and the hierarchy of white male privilege. Their arrogance was detrimental not only to the Black community generally but especially to Black police officers.
In this respect, Mr. Jennings’ experience with the police state was synonymous with the experience of the Black community and Bobby Hutton. The major difference is that Jennings was able to walk away with his life.
The abuse of African Americans by police departments in the Bay Area was no secret. Police officers walked tall in their locker rooms after whuppin’ Black heads. Blacks were routinely shot by the police.
It was from these conditions that the cry for Black self defense arose and the Black Panther Party for Self Defense was born. Organizer Huey P. Newton, originally from Louisiana, was no stranger to the practice of white racist brutality.
Li’l Bobby Hutton’s family had fled Pot Liquor, Arkansas, from nightriders. Blacks moving from the South to the Bay found hooded white sheets replaced by police uniforms worn by the “Blue Meanies.”
The 1960s was a decade for social disturbance and organizing. The Civil Rights Movement was in full swing, and the Black Power Movement had come alive. Neither movement, however, focused on the immediate urgency of police occupation and brutality in Black communities.
The Black Panther Party did. Chapters formed in major California cities, nationwide and worldwide in response to the Black community’s plea for an end to police brutality and murder within the community.
According to Eugene Jennings, he joined the police department as a result of witnessing police brutality upon Black people. His motivation was to become a better officer who could serve the needs of Black people.
At the time that he joined the Oakland PD, Black police officers numbered fewer than 15 out of approximately 680. Women numbered fewer than 10. Recruitment of officers was concentrated in the South, and recruits had to have served combat duty. The combination of these two elements – racist attitudes and combat experience – resulted in daily deadly consequences for Black people.
Jennings testified that racist statements were a mainstay in the locker rooms. The shooting of Charles Evers, brother of Medgar Evers, was frequently commented on: “Yeah, if that nigger walked into my neighborhood, I would have shot him too.” Predicting Black reaction to the shooting, police officers said, “The natives will be restless tonight.”
The assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. on April 4, 1968, prompted the Oakland Police Department to begin to hire more Black officers, many of whom were also recruited from the South. Due to the racism in the department, eventually these Black officers formed their own police officers’ association. They owed their jobs to the Black community’s revolt against police brutality.
When Denzil Dowell was killed in April 1967 in Richmond by an officer with the Martinez Sheriff’s Department, his death was labeled a “justifiable homicide.” An investigation by the Black Panther Party, however, determined that Dowell died unarmed and with his hands raised in surrender.
As Black people turned away from traditional forms of protest, the Black Panther Party became an icon. With the rapid growth of the BPP in Oakland, the Oakland Police Department began to aggressively suppress their efforts to organize.
Research shows that Cointelpro and the OPD collaborated in conducting illegal wire taps, surveillance, search and seizure and general harassment of Party members and supporters. Jennings mentions that because the police had the names and license plate numbers of members and supporters, many were arrested and harassed.
The police also utilized informants and snitches in their operational attacks upon the Party. These tactics resulted in unnecessary injuries, unjustified imprisonments and untimely deaths of Black people.
On the night of April 6, 1968, police officer Eugene R. Jennings witnessed the murder of Bobby Hutton by Oakland and Emeryville police officers. Eldridge Cleaver and Bobby Hutton were engaged in a gun battle with the police.
Jennings states in his deposition that he arrived at the scene at 1218 28th St. in Oakland and took a position across the street on top of a brick building – a building that is still standing. He did not see who was actually shooting, but he saw “flashes coming from the basement” from the house across the street.
From his observation point, he could see that the house had caught on fire. Jennings testified that Cleaver and Hutton were surrounded and had surrendered to the police. The police brutalized both panthers.
During the deposition, police investigators attempted to coerce Jennings into stating that Hutton was trying to escape or run. But according to Jennings’ testimony, Hutton stumbled after being pushed from behind, not trying to escape.
At this point an officer stepped forward and shot Hutton in the head, and other officers followed suit. Jennings’ description of Hutton’s murder mirrors the version told by Eldridge Cleaver.
It is interesting to note that Jennings’ testimony is similar to that of another Black police officer, Gynne Pierson, who was present at the scene. But Jennings’ statement was discarded, and he was labeled a “liar.”
In fact, Jennings’ testimony was not presented to the Grand Jury. He faced hostility at work – he had a gun pulled on him by a fellow officer.
Two questions must be answered:
1) Why was Jennings’ testimony not presented to the Grand Jury?
2) Why did Jennings take so long to come forth with this evidence?
The answer to the first question is the longstanding police cover-up regarding Hutton’s murder. The answer to the second question is that Jennings felt that since his life was threatened, he faced an audience that was not ready to reveal the truth.
Although this case is 37 years old, our quest for justice has not been delivered. Recently, grand juries in the Bay Area have been investigating incidents involving Black activists in the 1970s. Instead of focusing on witch hunts, they need to investigate the case of Bobby Hutton’s murder, for this is a case of justice undelivered.
11/30/2005 - HEMET, Calif. - A Riverside County sheriff's deputy was charged Tuesday with multiple criminal counts including assault by an officer, kidnapping and sexual battery.
Jeffrey Keith Sanders, 33, was booked into the Robert Presley Detention Center on $50,000 bail. A court hearing was scheduled for Nov. 28.
Sanders, who resigned from the department immediately following his arrest, had been employed there since 2000. He had been assigned to the Hemet station.
The department said in a news release that it began investigating Sanders following a complaint from a Hemet resident. The woman described inappropriate sexual conduct involving Sanders, the department said.
During the investigation, additional victims reported similar allegations involving Sanders, the department said.
It was not known how many victims were involved. Sheriff's officials refused to comment beyond the release, referring questions to the District Attorney's office, which could not be reached after hours.
Investigators believe there could be additional victims who may be afraid to come forward.
11/30/2005 - Former Sutter County sheriff's deputy Michael Slayton has pleaded guilty to a felony charge of stalking his estranged wife, according to Assistant District Attorney Fred Schroeder.
Slayton will undergo an evaluation by a forensic psychologist before he is sentenced at 9 a.m. Dec. 22 in Sutter County Superior Court. Sentencing possibilities range from probation and a jail sentence to four years in prison, according to Schroeder.
“The psychological report will be important in what the judge chooses as a sentence,” said Schroeder.
Besides stalking, Slayton was charged with three counts of spousal abuse, battery, making a death threat, burglary, six counts of violating a restraining order, and installing unauthorized wiretaps and video cameras in the house he had shared with his wife.
Slayton's employment with the Sheriff's Department ended Sept. 7. A department official declined to say if Slayton was fired or resigned.
Slayton was arrested near the house in August and has been in Sutter County Jail since then. Judge Chris Chandler refused to reduce his $1 million bail after prosecutor Diana Bermingham said Slayton was still a danger to his wife.
When ordered to surrender his numerous pistols and long guns, Slayton gave some to a relative. He felt he could still have telephone contact with his children despite a court order, said Bermingham.
Slayton “just doesn't get it,” Bermingham said at the time.
Slayton entered the guilty plea without conditions, meaning a prison sentence is possible, said Schroeder.
But Slayton also is eligible for up to five years' probation and could be sentenced to as long as a year in jail instead of going to prison, he said.
Before he was arrested in August, Slayton had been on paid administrative leave for disciplinary reasons unconnected with stalking, the official said.
Sacramento County probation officials will prepare a pre-sentence report on Slayton and recommend a sentence. Sutter County probation officials will not be involved because of their professional involvement with Slayton while he was a sheriff's deputy, said Schroeder.
11/22/2005 - An LAPD officer who called 911 early Sunday to report a fire at the Los Angeles Police Academy was arrested on suspicion of intentionally setting the blaze, authorities said Monday.
The fire damaged part of the gymnasium and burned a small portion of a rock garden before firefighters could extinguish it, said Mary Grady, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles Police Department.After the Fire Department put it out, they became suspicious about the cause," she said. "Arson investigators believed it was deliberately set and began to question the statements by the officer."
Officer Jonathan Sugar, 41, was taken into custody that morning.
The fire consumed a 20-foot by 40-foot area of brush in the rock garden often used for weddings, and caused about $5,000 in damage to the exterior of the gymnasium at the Elysian Park facility, said Jim Wells, a spokesman for the Los Angeles Fire Department.
In addition to fire officials, LAPD internal affairs detectives also responded to the scene and are undertaking their own investigation into the matter, Grady said.
Officer Sugar, a 15-year veteran of the department, was booked Sunday night and released without bail early Monday.
Grady said he is an officer at the Devonshire Division police station in the San Fernando Valley but was on loan to the LAPD's Training Division, which operates the academy.
Department officials could not say whether Sugar was back on the job Monday.
It is usual, however, for an officer arrested in a crime to be assigned to home duty pending a resolution of a crime allegation.
Sugar could not be reach for comment.
The 21-acre Los Angeles Police Academy was the setting for the 1932 Olympics' pistol and rifle competitions.
The facility includes fountains, waterfalls and flowers, and is home to classrooms, a gymnasium, track, athletic field and obstacle course, as well as a firing range.
Grady said the fire did not affect operations at the academy.
Neither Grady nor officials at the Los Angeles Fire Department, which is leading the probe, could say what the motive for the fire might be.
11/18/2005 - A former Fresno County Sheriff's deputy, charged with stealing money, is paying for his crime through a plea deal.
Ray Guidici walked out of a Fresno County courtroom Friday morning with two years probation.
Forgery charges were reduced to a misdemeanor after the judge decided Guidici had paid back his victims and is currently getting help for his gambling problem.
The former eight-year deputy was charged with stealing several personal checks from friends and relatives a year ago.
At one time, he was on the run from his own co-workers at the department.
But Friday, the judge decided Guidici is truly sorry for his crime.
In addition to paying back his victims, Guidici was ordered to stay away from all casinos and even on-line gambling.