After weeks of waiting, wrangling with city staff, emails between Torres-Walker and Chief Brooks on rideout released

Instagram post by Antioch District 1 Councilwoman Tamisha Torres-Walker’s adult son, Yomani, promoting the rideout planned for Sunday, June 20th in Antioch and offering to provide the location for those who would direct message him. (Edited due to profanity) (Herald file screenshot)

Show her resistance to helping stop son from promoting illegal dirt bike ride on city streets; same son who fled police during incident in December

By Allen Payton

Following a Public Records Act request on June 16 for the email communication between Antioch District 1 Councilwoman Tamisha Torres-Walker and Antioch Police Chief T Brooks regarding the planned rideout that one of her sons was promoting and possibly organizing on social media, City Attorney Thomas Lloyd Smith finally released them last Wednesday evening, July 14. _Emails to & from TBrooks & TTorres-Walker

Smith at first claimed attorney client privilege and provided several state codes to support it. However, the Herald researched and cited those codes in a response email, pointing out to him that nothing in the codes mentions any other city staff member but refers only to an attorney. The Herald asked Smith if he was included in the emails between Brooks and Torres-Walker and any other council member regarding the rideout. He did not respond. A further email was sent to Brooks and City Manager Ron Bernal asking the same question. Rather than responding, Smith released the emails to the Herald, later that day.

Torres-Walker Less Than Fully Cooperative Frustrating Brooks

The emails show resistance from Torres-Walker to Brooks’ request that she talk to her adult son, Yomani, to get him to stop organizing and promoting the event planned for Sunday, June 20, m on his Instagram account under the name “its_kyd”. At first she agreed to talk to him about it, But later Torres-Walker claimed he was not organizing the event nor knew who was, didn’t know where it would be held and that she didn’t think she talking to him would help.

Yomani is her same son who fled police during a pursuit of him and his younger brother who were riding off-road vehicles on A Street on December 29, 2020. That incident resulted in a 9-minute online video post by the councilwoman and has been under investigation by an outside firm hired by the police department at her request. The investigators report has yet to be released. (See related article)

Brooks first email to her on June 14 with the subject line “Need Your Help Please” reads in part:

“Good afternoon Councilmember Torres-Walker,

Several people have contacted me in regards to an illegal event planned to take place in Antioch this Sunday. Please see the attached screenshot advertising the event, which I’m being told is from your son Yomani’s Instagram account. These types of events are not only dangerous but illegal as well.

Some who are aware of this event (and your son’s alleged involvement) have mentioned wanting to notify local media outlets. I have asked that this not happen, but instead, allow me to stop the event from even occurring. My primary goal is to prevent this dangerous activity from taking place in our city. But I also hope to avoid any type of negative attention this would garner from the public (on you as an elected official, and us as a city) as well.

I am asking for your help to get this event canceled. Prevention is my first and ultimate goal. However, if you are unable to help, we will assemble a special enforcement detail using officers on overtime and seeking mutual aid help from neighboring agencies to address the public safety concern this event will create. We will take a zero-tolerance approach to any/all violations, resulting in arrests and towed vehicles for those participating. I would like to avoid this if at all possible.

Please let me know if you can help. I greatly appreciate it.”

He also shared screenshots of posts by Yomani on his Instagram page, previously shared by the Herald.

Torres-Walker responded in an email to Brooks that evening, and copied Bernal, Mayor Lamar Thorpe and Public Information Officer Rolando Bonilla, with the following:

“Hello Chief Brooks,

Thank you for the email. I was not aware of this event and my son has never organized such an event. It looks like he may have shared an event that was organized by someone else on his personal social media page which is not illegal.

I have no power to stop this but I will talk to my son about not attending because I want him to be safe and I understand that once the police engage in these kinds of events people will and have been gravely injured and/or arrested.

Please let me know if there is anything else I can do to help.”

Brooks responded that same evening with another email to Torres-Walker:

“Thank you for your response.

I agree with you that these events are extremely dangerous. Injuries can be sustained by participants, spectators, innocent members of the public who are completely unattached to the event itself, and even officers who are assaulted by those who violently resist and/or use their vehicles as weapons against them.

I did not say your son was organizing the event – I said he was advertising it. I hoped that he or they could speak to the organizers and ask them not to bring this event to our community. It is not welcomed here.

Since you do not have the power to stop it, but would still like to help, I’ll ask that you please find out from your son where this event is scheduled to take place and provide me this information? His post says he knows where this is going to occur, and having this information ahead of time would greatly benefit us to secure the area and hopefully deter potential participants from stopping in the first place. Preventing the group from congregating/organizing would greatly reduce any likelihood of confrontation, making it safer for all.

Thank you in advance for helping us work to prevent this dangerous event from occurring in our city.”

Torres-Walker responded, once again, about a half-hour later, attempting to turn it around on police, with a brief reference to the incident in December, and those who had informed Brooks about her son’s social media posts for the June 20th planned rideout. She wrote:

“Hello Chief Brooks,

I get it and my son knows what it’s like to have someone use their vehicle as a weapon to harm him.

It seems like the location is never shared ahead of the day of the event so even if I wanted to help with that request I couldn’t.

Maybe the informants that are reporting activity on my son’s social media page can use their investigative skills to find out who is organizing the event and request the location.

I will talk to my son but since he is not organizing the event and has no idea who is I’m not sure that will help either.

Have a good evening,”

Torres-Walker’s son’s IG posts regarding the expected police response to the planned rideout. The one on the right was posted after Wednesday morning’s press conference by the mayor and police chief and after she apparently had spoken with him. (Herald file screenshots)

The following morning, Tuesday, June 15, Brooks sent an email to Bernal, Thorpe and Bonilla showing additional posts on social media by Yomani on his Instagram account with the words “Stop Snitching” and other posts warning those who might participate in the rideout to “Keep yo head ona swivel” to look out for police during the rideout.

A frustrated Brooks wrote in that email:

“All,

I have no intention on responding to Councilmember Torres-Walker’s below email. It is unfortunate that she is taking this stance and refusing to help prevent a dangerous event such as this from occurring in our city. Although she claims her son is not involved, it is clear from the original screenshot I included to start this conversation that is not true. To further evidence this, please see the below screenshots that her son posted last night. Obviously Councilmember Torres-Walker informed him of my request. But instead of helping prevent the dangerous event and negative publicity it will bring us as a city, it has appeared to embolden him and he has doubled down on his messaging to continue on with the event as planned. Not only will this cost the city taxpayers’ money in unnecessary police overtime, it is endangering the lives of those illegally riding on our streets, the innocent motorists on our roadways, and the officers tasked with trying to enforce the laws being willfully disregarded. This type of behavior is not good for our community.

T”

The following day, Wed., June 16, Thorpe and Brooks held a press conference about the rideout, asking people not to participate and warning them of a multi-agency effort, fines and $3,000 impound fees, should they be caught. During that press conference, Thorpe was asked if he had spoken to her to tell her son not to promote or participate in them. Thorpe responded, “this is about cancelling the event and let the public know we are going to hold people accountable. I’m not playing games.” (See related article)

The warnings appear to have worked, as the planned rideout did not occur that Sunday.

Challenge Obtaining Emails

By state law, government officials have 10 business days to release records requested by either the media or public. However, agencies can postpone the release by up to an additional 14 calendar days under certain circumstances. It took four weeks for Attorney Smith to release the requested emails.

On June 30th Lynn Dansie, the Police Records Supervisor, sent a letter to the Herald which read, “At the request of the City Attorney we have been asked to extend our response time…for up to 14 additional calendar days, in order to search for and collect records from a separate office/unit holding the information requested. You will be notified with a response to your request on our before, July 12, 2021.” (See              )

Asked what separate office/unit was holding the information and are all communications between city staff and council members done through their official city email accounts, neither Dansie nor Smith responded.

Then on July 1, the Herald made an additional request of all emails between Attorney Smith and council members about the rideout.

On July 8, Dansie emailed another letter that read, “Per the City Attorney, records requested are not releasable at this time. The records requests are being denied under GC (government code) 6254(k) as well as the attorney client privilege under EC 954 and attorney work product privilege under Cal. Code Civ. Pro. 2018.030(a).”

Asked if the letter applied to all emails, Dansie responsed, “The codes of GC 6254(k), EC 954 and Cal Code Civ Pro 2018.030(a) are applicable to both of the records requests involving emails.”

This reporter responded on July 13 with the following, which included citing the language from the sections of those government codes:

“Thomas,

Were you included in the emails between Chief Brooks and Councilwoman Torres-Walker or any other member of the APD staff and any council member regarding the planned rideout on June 20, 2021?

Because I researched the codes provided in Lynn’s email sent yesterday, and if not, then those codes do not apply as they mention nothing about any other person, only an attorney, and you therefore must release the emails to me…post haste. Otherwise please cite the portion of those codes that do apply.

I understand you trying to protect your clients, the council members, from any possible embarrassment over what they wrote in their communication with the chief and/or any other member of the APD or city staff. But that’s not protected under the PRA according to the codes you have provided. So, let’s stop wasting all of this city staff time…and let’s allow the public to know what’s happening with their government and communicated by their elected representatives.”

Smith responded via email the next day, providing the requested emails and included an explanation of why the emails between him and city council members could not be released.

“Dear Mr. Payton,

On June 16, 2021, the City of Antioch received a California Public Records Act (“CPRA”) requesting “copies of any emails/communications between yourself (Chief Brooks)/police department/Mayor Lamar Thorpe and Tamisha Torres-Walker regarding sideshows or rideout”. After further discussion, the City and was agreed that the scope of the request was to be limited to the time period of June 8, 2021 through June 22, 2021.

This letter is in response to your emails dated July 13, 2021 and July 14, 2021.  Attached please find a 10-page document responsive to the CPRA requests that the City has determined is disclosable. Please be advised that other identifiable records are exempt from disclosure because they either involve confidential communications that include the City Attorney and/or they involve confidential communications done at the direction of the City Attorney to accomplish the purpose for which the City Attorney was consulted and are exempt from disclosure.

Thomas Lloyd Smith

City Attorney”

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the attachments to this post:


_Emails to & from TBrooks & TTorres-Walker


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