Antioch police refuse to release force record during FBI investigation

In the shadow of an FBI investigation into the use of force and other alleged misconduct by Antioquia police, the city refuses to release records of 12 incidents that reveal more of the force police used against residents. .

The city decided this month to stay the case as the state continues to expand its police transparency rules and as the state continues to expand its police transparency rules. FBI and county prosecutors are investigating Allegations of civil rights violations through the use of force on duty, including when police dogs inflicted illness on people.

Of the 12 pending cases, four involved police K9 causing injuries, including a man who suffered “obvious trauma” in 2016; It concerns a police officer who left a suspect unconscious using the controversial neck-hold technique, which is banned throughout. In either case, the city claims the injuries were not serious enough to warrant disclosure.

The denial was made at the request of the California Reporting Project, an alliance of various news outlets that has fought for years for public record of police misconduct and use of force across the state.

However, under pressure from lawyers representing the news agency, the city released records of seven previously withheld military incidents, including two involving K9 officers under investigation by the FBI. I agree.

For decades, most records of police use of force were kept private, but a state law passed in 2018 known as SB 1421 changed that. The law requires police to release recordings, body camera footage and even recorded interviews when a person sustains so-called “serious injuries” at the hands of police. The law passed in 2021, SB16, expands the list of records and tightens the time frame.

At the same time, police must disclose incidents of force involving “serious bodily harm” to state attorneys general. This is another legal term that is generally thought to apply to the most serious injuries.

The California Reporting Project identified 12 missing Antioch cases by reviewing what was reported to the AG and comparing it to Antioch’s previous SB 1421 release. In response, Antioquia argued that some cases reported to the AG did not need to be disclosed to the public, an unusual position taken by police agencies. Although serious bodily injury is defined under criminal law as serious or substantial injury, Antioch effectively argues that loss of consciousness is not necessarily serious injury.

Antioquia Police Chief Stephen Ford and the city attorney’s office did not respond to emailed questions as of Sunday afternoon. However, city officials responded to the news agency’s lawyers earlier this week, saying they would consider more than a dozen cases, but made no promises to release them.

Since SB 1421 became effective January 1, 2019, the California Reporting Project has filed more than 2,500 requests with law enforcement, district attorneys, and oversight agencies. Antioch is so far the only agency that has collectively refused to release cases in which a person has been rendered unconscious by the police or by the use of force by the police.

For example, the San Jose Police Department announced five such incidents, three of which involved officers using carotid artery fixation. In neither case did the subject die.

David Roy, legal director of the First Amendment Coalition, said, “For the purposes of disclosure under the California Public Records Act, terms that support disclosure must be interpreted broadly, and terms that restrict disclosure.” “Our position is to disclose records when in doubt. Always make mistakes on the side of disclosure.”

Carotid retention involves using both arms to compress specific arteries in a person’s neck. It’s intended to cause a loss of consciousness for a few seconds, but the radio waves to the brain are restricted and cannot be resumed, possibly leading to death. After the 2020 police murder of George Floyd, the police officer who killed Floyd had not been hired, but Antioquia and many other police agencies across the country have voluntarily banned the practice.

Wendell Celestine Jr., 37, February 2016 Died after being placed in a carotid hold By Mike Mortimer and Mark Moraga of the Antioch Police Department. An autopsy found he had died of suffocation, but the Contra Costa Coroner’s trial jury ruled the death an accident.

The city’s decision not to release the 12 cases follows an FBI investigation into more than a dozen current and former Antioch and Pittsburgh officials, including at least eight from Antioch. In addition to alleged civil rights violations, members of the group have been accused of crimes including distribution of cocaine, methamphetamine, and steroids. Raise salaries by earning degrees fraudulently Taking bribes to get rid of traffic tickets.

The seven records released by Antioquia this year include dog bites, a prime target of the FBI’s investigation, according to multiple law enforcement sources. An Antioch officer named Morteza Amirihas been on unpaid administrative leave for the past year. K9’s partner, Amiri, who bitten dozens of people from his Purcy from early 2019 to early 2022, is investigating a dog bite incident, though officials have not disclosed which incident. yeah. A grand jury in San Francisco has convened since last year and is expected to decide whether to indict in 2023.

Antioch released a record of Celestine’s death and suggested that they would hand over the record soon. Another man died in 2021.Officers were cleared last January after a review by the DA’s office.

Antioch isn’t the only city vying for records. The California Reporting Project analyzed record requests from 120 law enforcement agencies, including the state’s largest cities and all sheriff departments. Of these agencies, only 28 responded that they submitted complete records on time. Another five agencies said they met their obligations, but it took longer than the 45-day period currently mandated under SB 16 to make these files public.

But even these small numbers can be deceptive.

In Riverside, the County Sheriff’s Department has reported more than 30 civilian deaths to the California Department of Justice since 2016, with a nearly equal number of serious injuries such as broken bones and gunshot wounds, all related to the use of force. is. The ministry has made available only one file for a seven-year-old case during that period and has not released any files for cases in which anyone was seriously injured or killed on its transparency site. Still, the Riverside Sheriff’s Office says the response is complete.

This article was produced by the California Reporting Project, a coalition of nearly 40 news outlets statewide, including the Bay Area News Group.

Contributors include Layla Bergouty of Big Local News, Stanford Journalism, Vera Arnold and Chrissy Waite of the Investigative Reporting Program at the University of California, Berkeley’s School of Journalism, and Molly Peterson of The California Newsroom, a public media station collaboration. increase. Antioch police refuse to release force record during FBI investigation

Related Articles

Back to top button