Antioch police officers’ attorney, Councilwoman Torres-Walker reveal second investigation by same investigator into her conduct, begun, ended by city manager

APOA Attorney Michael L. Rains. From RLS website. Antioch District 1 Councilwoman Tamisha Torres-Walker. Screenshot of Facebook video posted on Feb. 16, 2021.

APOA attorney issues statement regarding second investigation, original one into incident with her sons, and Angelo Quinto incident; 

Attorney letter to city manager reveals names of officers involved in, provides details of incident with Torres-Walker’s sons, claims she told officer, “I’ll have your [expletive] badge, do you know who I am?”;

Torres-Walker responds with second video claiming, “It’s a racket. It’s not real,” and “would not trust any results of this investigation;”

Both sides want “a fair and impartial review” and “independent investigation;”

Bernal refuses to answer questions;

Chief Brooks says outside investigation “is still moving forward”;

Mayor learns of second investigation on social media.

By Allen Payton

An attorney for the Antioch Police Officers’ Association (APOA), which represents the sworn officers who are not part of the department’s administration, issued a statement on Wednesday, March 3 regarding the comments by District 1 Antioch Councilwoman Tamisha Torres-Walker in a video she shared on her Facebook page. That was in response to an incident on Dec. 29 in which her two sons were pulled over by APD officers for riding a dirt bike and quad on city streets, which is illegal. (See related article)

Michael Rains, one of the APOA’s attorney, also provided documentation to support the fact of the second investigation requested of City Manager Ron Bernal. Torres-Walker is not happy that the same outside investigator was hired to handle both investigations. Rains also mentioned the recent Angelo Quinto case and the information about that incident with police in December was revealed during a press conference, las week. But Bernal won’t answer any questions about the matter.

One thing that both the APOA and Torres-Walker agree on is to have impartial and independent reviews.

APOA Attorney Statement

Following is Rains complete statement:

“This press statement is issued by the Law Firm of Rains Lucia Stern St. Phalle & Silver (RLS) on behalf of our client, the Antioch Police Officers’ Association (“APOA”) and its individual members. Our clients in the APOA expect and deserve nothing more nor less than a fair and impartial review of the multitude of official actions they are called upon to take on a daily basis, something which has not been occurring lately in the City.

The Antioch Police Officers’ Association was heartened that Police Chief Tammany Brooks was finally permitted yesterday to speak in factual terms concerning the unfortunate incident which culminated in the death of Angelo Quinto. The APOA is confident that a Coroner’s Inquest public hearing, when held concerning this matter, will verify the factual information discussed by Chief Brooks, and soundly refute the distortions and/or complete falsehoods previously asserted by members of Mr. Quinto’s family and their attorney. (See related article)

Since the press conference of Chief Brooks was limited to responding to false accusations made against the Department and its individual officers in the incident involving Mr. Quinto, he did not address another recent incident which resulted in members of the APOA being publicly maligned by City Councilwoman Tamisha Torres-Walker, simply because the officers were attempting to enforce statutory laws being violated by her two sons by driving off-road vehicles on public roadways and violating other rules of the road, endangering themselves and other motorists alike. In the aftermath of an approximate nine-minute public condemnation of the officers by Councilwoman Torres-Walker, the police department commenced an Internal Affairs investigation by an ‘outside’ investigator to determine if the officers who attempted to stop Ms. Torres-Walker’s sons, and who had to actually pursue them after they fled, acted appropriately.

The APOA and this law firm welcomes a fair, thorough and objective investigation of this incident and the actions of the involved officers.

But there was also a second investigation initiated as a result of Ms. Torres-Walker’s public ‘statement’ – an investigation commenced at the direction of the City Manager of Ms. Torres-Walker for the manner in which she conducted herself and the delivery of her ‘message’ to her constituents in the public. In her ‘message,’ rather than acknowledging that her sons were violating the law when officers attempted to stop them, Ms. Torres-Walker attempted to deflect the illegality of her sons’ behavior onto the police officers who were simply trying to enforce the

law. Her nine minute “statement” was shown prominently on social media sites and referred to by many who saw and heard it as a ‘recorded temper tantrum’ and ‘profanity laced rant’ directed at police officers of the Antioch Police Department.

In her ‘statement’ Ms. Torres-Walker referred to Antioch police officers as ‘a—holes’ nine separate times; she called Antioch police officers ‘mother f—ers’ 16 times; she used the word ‘f–k,’ or ‘f—er,’ or ‘f—ing’ 42 times; she used the word ‘sh-t’ a total of 11 times.

If any police officer represented by this law firm in Northern or Southern California would have publicly addressed any human being, let alone another public official, in terms similar to these, for any reason, they would have been terminated from their positions and would have rightfully deserved such a fate. The APOA is aware that City Manager Ron Bernal initiated an investigation of Ms. Torres-Walker’s outrageous behavior and the enormous discredit she brought to the City Council and the City Management of the City of Antioch. However, suddenly, very quietly, and entirely inexplicably, the investigation was discontinued, apparently as a result of pressure brought by Ms. Torres-Walker and/or her supporters. The discontinuation of this investigation is tantamount to City Management sanctioning displays of profanity and unprofessionalism at the very highest levels of City Government.

As the law firm proudly representing Antioch Police Officers’ Association, we ask Mr. Bernal and the entire City Council what will happen to one of our police officer clients if he/she dares in the future to refer to any member of the public with any profane reference not even approaching the level of vulgarity engaged-in by Ms. Torres-Walker?

The City Government’s response to Ms. Torres-Walker’s undeserved, unnecessary and patently outrageous behavior is itself a disgrace and disservice to the constituents of the City and to every member of the Antioch Police Department and the Police Officers’ Association.”

“The City has, in essence, sanctioned Ms. Torres-Walker’s venomous attack of law enforcement officers at the precise moment when community relations between the public and law enforcement are in desperate need of community leaders who step-up to both practice and preach the restoration of mutual trust and cooperation between the police and the public, and not to engage in a continuation of the vitriol of police hatred exhibited by Ms. Torres-Walker,” RLS Founding Principal Mike Rains added.

APOA Attorney Claims Second Investigation

Asked for documentation of the secondary investigation, Rains responded, “I’m very confident an investigation was started and discontinued,” and provided copies of letters from the APOA to Bernal requesting one.

“Our firm fired off a letter to Ron Bernal on Jan. 25th demanding an investigation into Tamisha Torres-Walker and as a result of that, he actually sent a follow up letter, because we hadn’t heard they had started the investigation,” Rains explained.

“The outside investigation is still going on,” he said, reiterating what Chief Brooks had stated. “The officers have been interviewed. The Law firm of Amy Oppenheimer in Berkeley was hired.”

“The City also retained that firm to do the investigation of Torres-Walker. There’s probably a contract or some kind of document from the City,” Rains stated, confirming Torres-Walker’s video comments about it.

“We were told that investigation was discontinued,” he continued. “What I know as of now the investigation into the cops continues but there is no longer an investigation into Torres-Walker.”

APOA Attorney Letter to Bernal Requesting Investigation into Torres-Walker’s Conduct

On Jan. 25, another attorney for the APOA, Timothy Talbot sent a letter to Bernal detailing the incident between Antioch Police officers and Torres-Walker and her sons, identifying the officers and requesting an investigation into her conduct and comments toward the officers.

“Re: Request for Investigation

Dear Mr. Bernal:

This firm is counsel to the Antioch Police Officer’s Association (APOA). We write on behalf of the APOA to request that the City of Antioch (City) initiate a thorough and independent investigation into the conduct of Antioch City Council member Tamisha Torres-Walker. During a recent traffic enforcement incident, Antioch police officers at the scene came into contact with Ms. Torres-Walker’s children and later with Ms. Torres-Walker herself. Based on the facts and circumstances known to the APOA (described below), Ms. Torres-Walker’s actions on that date appear inconsistent with the standards of professional and ethical conduct that all citizens and City employees should expect from their elected public officials and City leaders.

On December 29, 2020, Antioch Police Officers Calvin Prieto and Andrea Rodriguez were on duty and assigned to the Antioch Police Department’s Traffic Bureau. They, along with other officers and a sergeant, were primarily responsible for enforcing the California Vehicle Code (CVC) and investigating traffic collisions within the City limits. At approximately 3:00 p.m., Officers Prieto and Rodriguez were patrolling in the same marked police vehicle on A Street, which as you know is a heavily traveled four lane roadway. The officers each observed two subjects riding off-road vehicles on A Street, one vehicle was a dirt bike and the other a four-wheeled ATV. The officers witnessed the subjects riding these vehicles in violation of several CVC sections, including riding on the wrong side of the road (CVC § 21650) and riding a motorcycle (the rider of the dirt bike) without a helmet (CVC § 27803). In accordance with their assigned duties, the officers attempted to stop both riders because their actions put their own safety at risk as well as the safety of other drivers on the busy thoroughfare.

In attempting to conduct a traffic enforcement stop on the two riders for the CVC violations using emergency lights and sirens, the dirt bike rider managed to elude the officers in violation of CVC section 2800.4, while the ATV rider was stopped in the 1900 block of A Street. After making the stop, the officers learned for the first time that the rider of the ATV was Ms. Torres-Walker’s 13-year-old son. Unbeknownst to the officers on scene, the second rider who fled was Ms. Torres-Walker’s adult son, who apparently fled to his home where he notified Ms. Torres-Walker about the incident and the officers’ contact with her other son.

Although the 13-year-old was wearing a helmet, the ATV was not street legal (CVC §§ 38010, 38012) and he did not possess a valid California Driver License (violation of CVC § 12500(a)). Due to his age and the fact that the ATV would be towed, as well concerns about the second rider who fled, officers asked the 13-year-old to contact a parent who could respond to the scene and pick him up. This was done to ensure a parent, in this case Ms. Torres-Walker, was aware of the incident and to ensure the officers knew the minor would be released to a responsible adult.

A short-time later, Ms. Torres-Walker, along with her adult son, arrived in another vehicle to the location where officers stopped her 13-year-old son. Ms. Torres-Walker immediately approached Officer Prieto and Officer Rodriguez in a hostile and threatening manner as she announced her position as a City Council member and made statements to the effect of “do you know who I am?,” “I’ll have your badge,” and “I’ll have your [expletive] job, do you know who I am?” Eventually, Ms. Torres-Walker calmed down enough for the officers

to complete the paperwork to tow the ATV and issue a citation to her son. The 13-year old son was released to Ms. Torres-Walker at the scene without further incident.

Ms. Torres-Walker surfaced on social media a few hours after the incident and posted an approximate 9-minute Facebook live video. The video was very inflammatory and profanity-laden. While she was dismissive of her status as a newly elected City Council member, Ms. Torres-Walker made veiled threats towards the involved officers and expressed disdain for the Antioch Police Department as a whole. While the video was later removed from Facebook, it was posted by several local media outlets before it was deleted. (Publisher’s Note: see related article)

Ms. Torres-Walker’s inflammatory and misleading statements to and about Antioch police officers as they performed their official duties in a lawful and professional manner creates the alarming appearance that she intended to use her position as a City Council member to threaten, intimidate, or otherwise influence the officers into not doing their jobs. The APOA is also concerned that Ms. Torres-Walker may incorrectly believe her position on the City Council somehow exempts her and members of her family from complying with existing laws. The fact that Ms. Torres-Walker was seemingly emboldened enough by her status as a City Council member to threaten police officers during the performance of their duties is quite unsettling. As a community leader, Ms. Torres-Walker should recognize and appreciate the fact that the officers’ actions actually served to protect the health and safety of her children and the public that elected her to office.

The APOA does not take this incident or the request for an investigation lightly, as its members must not be subject to threats and intimidating conduct by the same elected officials whose decisions will directly impact their health, safety, and economic security. There can be no legitimate explanation for Ms. Torres-Walker’s disturbing conduct, and the City must initiate a thorough and independent investigation of this matter. Given the need for transparency and legitimacy, the APOA requests that the City present the matter to the Attorney General’s Office or the Office of the District Attorney for investigation.

Ms. Torres-Walker’s actions constitute a serious matter raising significant ethical and legal concerns, including but not limited to abuse of power and public corruption, as well as violations of the City’s own Personnel Rules. The police officers hired by this City are appropriately held to the highest standards of professional ethics and conduct, and our elected and appointed leaders obviously must be held to these same standards. We respectfully request this investigation be started without delay to ensure that the public can maintain confidence in

their local government. The community deserves nothing less.

Sincerely,

RAINS LUCIA STERN

PHALLE & SILVER, PC

Timothy K. Talbot

cc: Antioch POA”

“Tim Talbot is a partner at Rains Lucia Stern and he does most of the day-in, day-out collective bargaining work with the APOA,” Rains explained. “He’s on the labor side of our firm.”

Rains said he represents the officers on disciplinary issues.

Torres-Walker Confirms Second Investigation, Disappointed, Won’t Trust Results of Either

Councilwoman Torres-Walker confirmed a second investigation into her comments and conduct toward the Antioch Police officers in a second video posted on her council Facebook page on February 16. She said she wanted “to give people an update” into “what is going on with the…independent investigation into what happened with…me and my sons and Antioch PD.”

“The police chief actually did find someone, and they got in touch with me. On Wed., Feb. 10 at 11:00 a.m., I actually met with Vida Thomas, who is with Oppenheimer Investigations Group,” Torres-Walker stated. “They are handling the independent investigation into the situation that happened with my sons and Antioch PD.”

“I’m so disappointed in this process because through the…interview process of the investigation, the attorney, Vida also alerted me that she is also representing the Antioch Police Officers’ Association in their request for independent investigation into my conduct,” she continued. “And I thought it pretty odd that the same investigator, the same investigative firm or group, that was hired by the police department to look into the independent investigation of what happened to me and my sons, which was supposed to be a non-biased, independent investigation. That the same firm was hired by the Antioch Police Officers’ Association, the same people, same lady to investigate me for corruption and misuse of my council position.”

“What a conflict of interest,” Torres-Walker exclaimed. “And mind you, this is supposed to be an investigation that I don’t even think that I’m supposed to know about. However, the attorney alerted me to the fact that she is also working on said investigation.”

“So, now we see where the concerns start to arise. Because how can you represent me in one case, while at the same be building a case against me?” Torres-Walker asked.

“And so, when we say we want transparency, we want accountability and we want independent investigations into police conduct and use of force, this is not what we’re talking about,” she said with a chuckle. “This is again, another reason why we need to do better. We need to do better by civilians who make complaints and request of independent investigations. Because if this is what they call an independent investigation, this transparent, of course she was transparent because she let me know that she is not only investigating the police department and their conduct, but she’s also investigating me and my conduct, and I have no idea how that is not a direct conflict of interest.”

“I’m letting you know, now, it’s not a fair and independent process by any means,” Torres-Walker stated. “I would not trust any results of this investigation. I don’t think it’s a non-biased investigation and at this point I’m not sure if it’s an independent investigation. And I’m just so unhappy with the way this all was laid out. I mean if I had the power to, I would go back and request, and actually ask for this particular group be removed from completing the independent investigation into the case of me and my sons and ask for a new investigator, so then they could continue. I think it’s unfortunate that with what I see as a clear conflict of interest that this particular attorney would take on both cases at the same time knowing that she would have to interview me and she’s doing double duty, and it’s actually double dipping, and it’s actually not transparent, a transparent and fair process.”

“It’s a racket, it’s not real. We cannot trust the process, any real accountability around theses,” she concluded.

Torres-Walker was asked if she found an investigation of what was said by a council member and which occurred outside of their official duties unusual, but she did not respond as of publication time.

Second Attorney Letter to Bernal

A second letter from an APOA attorney, Timothy Talbot was sent by email to Bernal on Feb. 18th, reiterating the request for an investigation of Torres-Walker’s conduct:

Re: Request for Investigation

Dear Mr. Bernal:

As you know, this firm is counsel to the Antioch Police Officer’s Association (APOA).

By letter dated January 25, 2021, we requested, on behalf of the POA, that the City of Antioch (City) initiate an independent investigation into the actions of City Council Member Tamisha Torres-Walker that occurred on December 29, 2020. To date we have not received a response from anyone acting on the City’s behalf as to whether an independent investigation will be initiated as requested by the POA. With this in mind, we would appreciate a response as to whether the City has initiated or intends to initiate an investigation.

Your courtesy and cooperation are appreciated.

Sincerely,

RAINS LUCIA STERN

ST. PHALLE & SILVER, PC

Timothy K. Talbot

cc: Antioch POA”

Bernal Refuses to Answer Questions

Several attempts to reach Bernal were made to verify if he initiated the second investigation and to answer questions about it. The following questions were emailed to him on Thursday, March 4 at 5:10 p.m. without response as of Monday, March 8: Is that true (that Bernal had initiated a second investigation)? If so, when did that investigation begin? Who participated in conducting it and did you end it before completion? Or was there a report produced as a result of it? If you ended it before completion and there’s no report, why? Finally, is that unusual for a city manager to initiate an investigation into the actions and comments made by a council member outside of their official business? What else can you say about it, please?

On Monday, March 8, the following questions were then sent to Bernal and copied to City Attorney Thomas Smith, Chief Brooks, all five council members and the City’s PIO, Rolando Bonilla:  is the councilwoman correct in stating that Ms. Thomas also served as the APOA’s investigator into her conduct, or was Ms. Thomas working for you, at the APOA’s request? In addition, is it considered a conflict of interest for the same investigator to investigate both aspects of what occurred with her and her sons, the APD and her comments and conduct? Finally, if you have discontinued the second investigation into Ms. Torres-Walker’s comments and conduct, has a new one begun using a different investigator from a different firm?

Bonilla responded via email and text, City Administration response: “We will not be commenting on this matter.”

Another email was sent just prior publication time asking for copies of the contracts with the Amy Oppenheimer Group and for the costs of both investigations, as well as when did they begin and when did the second one end. A public records request for the same was also submitted Monday afternoon.

Outside Investigation Requested by Chief Continues

When asked about the press release from the APOA’s attorney and about the department’s outside investigator for the Torres-Walker matter, Antioch Police Chief T Brooks responded, “I hired an outside investigator to investigate my officer’s conduct due to her allegations. That investigation is still moving forward.”

Mayor Not Aware

Asked if he was aware of the additional investigation initiated by Bernal, Mayor Thorpe responded, “I found out when Tamisha Walker posted a video on her Facebook page. Not the 9-minute video. It was a follow-up video,” referring to the Feb. 16 video.

Please check back later for any updates to this report.

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the attachments to this post:


Michael Rains, RLS website, Tamisha Torres-Walker video screenshot 2-16-21


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