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Oakland council votes to pay police officer’s fine

June 20, 2012 Leave a comment

By Matthew Artz, Oakland Tribune
Posted: 06/19/2012 08:38:48 PM PDT

The Oakland City Council voted Tuesday to pay $40,000 in punitive damages that a judge had ordered a former Oakland police officer to pay for making two men pull down their pants in public.

U.S. District Judge Marilyn Patel last year ordered Ingo Mayer to pay $25,000 to Troy Lucas and $15,000 to Kirby Bradshaw, who sued the city and the officer after Mayer stopped and strip-searched them at a busy West Oakland intersection.

Patel found no legal rationale for the 2005 search. She ordered Oakland to pay a total of $205,000 to the men in addition to the $40,000 Mayer was ordered to pay. The city also had to pay $832,000 in legal fees to the plaintiffs’ attorneys, John Burris and Michael Haddad.
The city had no legal obligation to make Mayer’s payment, but the council voted 5-3 to do it anyway.

Councilmembers Nancy Nadel, Desley Brooks and Rebecca Kaplan voted in opposition.
Brooks said the police union had recently asked council members to indemnify Mayer.
“It’s inexcusable to allow such a practice to take place …,” Brooks said. “Punitive damage is not something a judge does lightly. You have to do something really bad.”

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Categories: policy violation

Frazier report on Occupy Oakland

June 15, 2012 Leave a comment

OPD Screws Up Scott Olsen Investigation?

June 13, 2012 Leave a comment

Originally posted at East Bay Express

A new report reveals that a department investigator may have compromised the investigation into the shooting of the Marine veteran.

By Ali Winston

Filings made last week in the court of federal Judge Thelton Henderson reveal that the Oakland Police Department’s investigation into which of its officers shot Marine veteran Scott Olsen with a beanbag round on October 25 may have been compromised by the actions of an officer assigned to the case. “It is alleged an OPD investigator compromised the Scott Olson [sic] criminal investigation,” the court document reads. “This will require interviews of several members of CID [Criminal Investigations Division] and Tango Teams [tactical teams armed with less-than-lethal munitions] but will not require any extensive analysis of video or other evidence.”

It is unclear what the officer did — OPD did not respond to requests for comment. The initial investigation into Olsen’s injury appears to have been completed, but the alleged screw-up seems to have slowed down the process. “The complainant was shot in the head with a beanbag round and then a chemical munition was thrown into a group of people attempting to render aid to him,” the report states. “All of the tango team members have been interviewed and extensive video analysis has already been completed. It is likely that interviews of additional officers, as well as a reinterview of the subject will need to be completed.”

The latest revelation marks another black eye for OPD and its response to last fall’s Occupy Oakland protests. Already swamped with more than 1,000 complaints, OPD’s Internal Affairs unit was forced to recuse itself from investigating the accusations because the commander in charge of internal affairs, Captain Paul Figueroa, had been placed in charge of Oakland cops on the night of October 25 after the first Occupy Oakland raid. Delays in contracting with third-party entities to complete reviews of complaints within the mandated 180 days also placed OPD in hot water with Henderson.

Both the Olsen investigation and the probe into allegations that an officer undermined the case are being handled by the law firm Renne Sloan Holtzman Sakai LLP, which began work on April 23. Three other cases are being handed over to outside investigators: the beating of Kayvan Sabehgi on November 2 by now-retired OPD Officer Frank Uu; an OPD sergeant’s accusation that command staff did not adequately respond to his squad being surrounded and attacked by a crowd on an unspecified date; and a complaint filed by the ACLU alleging that OPD violated its own crowd-control policy on October 25 by firing tear gas and less-than-lethal projectiles at unarmed demonstrators.

Police assault and arrest protester at Oscar Grant rally

June 11, 2012 Leave a comment

This arbitrary police arrest occurred on July 8, 2010 after the verdict of Johannes Mehserle, the BART cop who killed Oscar Grant, was announced

Judge Takes Oakland Police One Step Closer to Federal Control

June 5, 2012 Leave a comment

Originally posted at Colorlines.com

by Ali Winston

This story updates reporting supported by the Investigative Fund of the Nation Institute.

The Oakland Police Department’s nine-year-long struggle with federal oversight took a significant turn last week, as a federal judge demanded an investigation by court-appointed monitors into police shootings involving OPD officers and speculated openly about placing the department under federal control.

In a court order issued on May 31, District Court Judge Thelton Henderson indicated that an independent monitoring team raised unspecified concerns about how Oakland officials—including OPD brass, Chief Howard Jordan and “the City officials who supervise him” (i.e. City Administrator Deanna Santana and Mayor Jean Quan)—handle police shootings.

“The Monitor’s concerns surrounding officer-involved shootings highlight the uncertainty over whether Defendants will, without further intervention by the Court, ever be able to comply with the reforms to which they agreed over nine years ago.” Henderson wrote.

A Colorlines.com investigation last August highlighted the role of California state law in shielding allegations of officer misconduct from public scrutiny and accountability. The investigation found 20 officers whom have been involved in two or more shootings over the past decade, 13 of whom are still employed by the department. A large number of officers involved in shooting incidents were also assigned to tactical teams that were at the heart of OPD’s violent response to Occupy Oakland protests last fall. The independent monitor is already investigating police violence during that raid.

Last week’s federal court order, which also raises the possibility of court-imposed sanctions if misconduct is uncovered, is the latest sign of Judge Henderson’s growing impatience with OPD’s lagging reforms. The independent monitoring team, led by former Rochester Police Chief Robert Warshaw, is the third such monitoring group. Earlier this year, Henderson threatened to place the police department under the control of a court-appointed receiver if the pace of OPD’s reforms did not pick up. In late January, Henderson took a step in that direction by ordering OPD Chief Jordan and City Administrator Santana to consult with the independent monitor before making any significant decisions regarding personnel matters or departmental policy.

This most recent turn of events indicates that both the court and the independent monitor harbor serious doubts about OPD’s ability to investigate itself, and are becoming increasingly involved in the everyday workings of the department. Previously, they have only audited OPD’s investigations. Here is a passage from Henderson’s order:

This is of utmost concern, as uses of force and the manner in which they are investigated are among the most serious issues in this case, and officer-involved shootings, many of which result in death, are the most grave possible uses of force. The Court hereby directs the Monitor to identify any systemic problems that exist in the process by which Defendants evaluate such cases, as well as whether unique problems arose in any individual case, and recommend solutions to those problems.

Frequent changes in the police department and the city’s leadership have not helped matters either: three mayors and four police chiefs have come and gone since federal oversight of OPD began in 2003. However, the judge believes the time for excuses are past, and problems investigating officer-involved shootings have risen to the heart of Henderson’s deliberations on whether to place OPD under federal control.

But city authorities aren’t the only ones lagging on investigations of police shootings in the Bay Area. The Alameda County district attorney conducts a separate investigation every time a police officer is involved in a violent death. Charges are either filed against the officer (i.e. Johannes Mehserle’s murder indictment in 2009 for the fatal shooting of Oscar Grant) or a report is compiled detailing the incident and explaining why charges have not been filed. As of mid-May, the district attorney’s office has yet to complete its investigations into the deaths of Andrew Moppin, Gary King Jr., Jose Buenrostro and Mack Woodfox—all of whom were killed by OPD officers between 2007 and 2008. The latter three deaths resulted in $2.65 million in settlements with the City of Oakland. On average, the district attorney’s investigators complete their reviews of officer-involved shootings within a year of the incident.

The result of the monitoring team’s investigation will be included in their next quarterly report, due to be released sometime in August.

Categories: federal monitors

OPD run over a woman at a protest

June 5, 2012 Leave a comment
Categories: auto, protest, video

OPD assaults a camerman

June 5, 2012 Leave a comment
Categories: journalist, video