Antioch city staff won’t respond to questions on councilwoman’s claims of interference by former police chief in investigation of her sons’ and her 2020 incident with police

District 1 Councilwoman Tamisha Torres-Walker, former Chief of Police Tammany Brooks and City Manager Ron Bernal.

Won’t allow former Chief Brooks to respond to her accusation

“to the extent that your email requested that the City provide answers to questions, the City is not obligated to do so and does not undertake to do so.” – City Manager Ron Bernal

By Allen Payton

After waiting the legal limit of 10 business days for a response to both questions and a California Public Records Act request for communications between the Antioch Police Department and Oppenheimer Investigations Group, regarding the investigation of the claims by District 1 Councilwoman Tamisha Torres-Walker about the incident involving police officers, her sons and her on Dec. 29, 2020, City Manager Ron Bernal, citing state law, responded by saying he’s “not obligated” to answer any questions and the city will not provide any documentation. (See related article)

Bernal wrote in an email on Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021:

“This is in response to your email sent on October 6, 2021, requesting:

The public is asking, what impropriety and unfairness – based on the terms used in your press release about the matter – that you recently discovered, which occurred with the first investigation of the police incident with Councilwoman Torres-Walker’s sons and her, last December that caused you to determine the need for a second investigation?

What did city staff and/or the investigator do wrong?

Why wasn’t that information included in the press release and why should that information be kept private if they are matters of process in how the investigation was handled?

Doesn’t the public have a right to know if a city employee or a contractor made a serious mistake that is costing more tax dollars and staff time? Especially when it’s in regard to an elected official?

Also, will you demand a refund of the money the city paid Oppenheimer, as Councilman Barbanica is calling for?

This is a formal public records request for all the communications between city staff members and staff of the Oppenheimer Investigations Group.

As an initial matter, please understand that the California Public Records Act (“CPRA”) does not require a public agency to create documents or provide written answers to specific questions.  (Gov. Code, § 6252, subd. (e); Consolidated Irrigation District v. Superior Court (2012) 205 Cal.App.4th 697; Haynie v. Superior Court (2001) 26 Cal. 4th 1061, 1075.)  As such, to the extent that your email requested that the City provide answers to questions, the City is not obligated to do so and does not undertake to do so.

With regard to your request for communications between City staff members and staff of the Oppenheimer Investigations Group, your request in its current form is vague and ambiguous because it fails to reasonably describe any identifiable record or records.  Consistent with its obligations under the CPRA, the City is interpreting your emails to be seeking records relating to communications between City employees and employees of Oppenheimer Investigations Group in connection with the investigation into the complaint made by Councilmember Tamisha Torres-Walker against the Antioch Police Department.  If you disagree with the City’s interpretation, please kindly advise us as soon as possible.

Consistent with its obligations under the CPRA, and based upon the City’s interpretation of your request, the City advises that it conducted a reasonable search consistent and has determined that identifiable responsive records are exempt from disclosure pursuant to: (1) Government Code section 6254, subsection (c), as “medical, or similar files, the disclosure of which would constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy”; (2) Government Code section 6254, subsection (k), as “[r]ecords, the disclosure of which is exempted or prohibited pursuant to federal or state law, including, but not limited to, provisions of the Evidence Code relating to privilege,” because the records are protected by Penal Code sections 832.7 and 832.8, the deliberative process privilege, the official information privilege, the attorney-client privilege, the attorney work product doctrine, and/or Article I, Section 1, of the California Constitution; and (3) Government Code section 6255, because on the facts of the particular case the public interest served by not disclosing the record.  Consequently, the City will not produce records responsive to this request.

More Questions for City Staff

In response, an email was sent on Wednesday, Oct. 20 to Bernal, Brooks, City Attorney Thomas Lloyd Smith, Assistant City Manager Rosanna Bayon Moore, and Interim Police Chief Tony Morefield “specifically requesting the communications between former Chief Tammany Brooks and anyone at Oppenheimer Investigations Group in which he asked questions, offered suggestions or did whatever is being referred to as interference in the investigation of the complaint by Antioch District 1 Councilwoman Tamisha Torres-Walker regarding the incident involving Antioch Police officers, her sons and her on Dec. 29, 2020 – either via email or in writing,” as well as, “whatever communication was sent by City Attorney Thomas Lloyd Smith to the members of the city council regarding Ms. Torres-Walker’s claim that former Chief Brooks interfered in the first investigation which triggered the decision for a second one.”

Some questions were repeated, and additional questions were asked, including if Torres-Walker violated any state law by sharing the information she received from the city attorney. Also, “if so, what are the potential repercussions against her? Does it require former Chief Brooks to sue her and the city for violating his rights? Also, has the second investigation begun and if so, who was hired to do that? Finally, is the city requesting a refund from Oppenheimer as Councilman Barbanica has called for?”

No responses were received as of publication time.

 

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