“Recent evidence”, avoidance of “impropriety” lead Antioch to hire another investigator for councilwoman’s complaints against police

Councilwoman Tamisha Torres-Walker.

Of December incident with her sons and her; no details offered on the recent evidence or any impropriety in first investigation; “I have reviewed the information in question and I’m in full support of this” – Councilman Barbanica, calls for full refund from first investigation

By Allen Payton

The City of Antioch announced that a second independent attorney will be hired to investigate the complaint by District 1 Councilwoman Tamisha Torres-Walker against two Antioch Police officers for the incident involving her two sons riding dirt bikes illegally on city streets, due to “recent evidence” and to avoid “impropriety”. (See related articles here, here and here)

The first investigation conducted by attorney and company partner, Vida Thomas of the law firm Oppenheimer Investigations Group at a cost of almost $45,000 to the city, resulted in all of Torres-Walker’s claims in her complaint to be unfounded or not sustained. (See related articles here and here)

The councilwoman was not part of the decision for a second investigation, according to the city’s Public Information Officer, Rolando Bonilla.

In a press release issued Friday evening, he wrote, “Due to recent evidence brought to the City’s attention concerning an ongoing administrative investigation of a complaint brought by Tamisha Torres-Walker, and for the purpose of ensuring the City’s investigation into this matter is independent and free of even the appearance of impropriety, the City has decided to retain an alternative independent counsel to conduct further review of this matter.  In the interest of fairness to all involved parties, the City appreciates the patience of the parties and the public as the investigative process continues.  Due to the sensitive nature of the investigation and the privacy rights of those involved, the City cannot comment or provide additional information relating to this matter.  The City is taking these necessary steps to ensure that this matter is properly handled through a truly independent and thorough review of the circumstances.”

Asked “who will be the one to decide which outside investigator will be hired? The councilwoman?” Bonilla responded, “Councilmember Torres- Walker was not in the room when decision made, and she learned of decision the same way you did today.”

When asked what is the “recent evidence, was the investigator from Oppenheimer compromised, was there a conflict of interest between her or the company and either Chief Brooks or members of the APD, and what was the “impropriety” referred to in the press release, Bonilla did not respond.

Torres-Walker was asked, “do you have any comment you would like to add to this that you want the public to know? When were you informed of this?” and “were you part of the decision to hire a separate independent counsel to investigate your complaint?”

In addition, questions were sent to former Police Chief Tammany Brooks, whose last day was Thursday, Sept. 23, asking for comment and, “have you seen this press release and are you aware of the recent evidence and the accusation of impropriety with the outside investigation of Councilwoman Torres-Walker’s complaint?”

Acting Chief Tony Morefield was asked the same questions, Saturday morning.

The councilwoman, two police chiefs and Bonilla did not respond before publication time.

UPDATE: District 2 Councilman Mike Barbanica weighed in on the matter, Saturday afternoon.

“This is a personnel matter so, there are a lot of things I can’t comment on. But what I can say is I have reviewed the information in question and I’m in full support of this. I will tell you Councilwoman Torres-Walker had absolutely nothing to do with. I’ve dealt with several outside investigations during my time as a police administrator, and I’ve sent a message to city staff asking them to demand all of our money refunded from the previous investigation.”

“I do not in any way support her video rant, the way she spoke against the police department shown in her video. I’m not excusing anything she did it. I feel it was not becoming of a council member,” he added. “But I believe in due process, and this is the course of action for anyone.”

Please check back later for any updates to this report.

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