Archive for March, 2022

DA’s office, city officials won’t say how many Antioch police officers under investigation

Thursday, March 31st, 2022

Thorpe issues statement claiming investigation is to help with council’s police reform efforts; Barbanica posts video about APD staffing level concerns, says interim city manager won’t return calls to providdetails

DA won’t clearly defin“crimes of moral turpitude”; Thorpendorsed DA Becton, APOA endorsed her opponent, Deputy DA Knox

Thorpe’s statement on the investigation of APD officers posted on his official Facebook page on Saturday morning, March 27.

By Allen D. Payton

One week later, neither the Contra Costa DA’s Office nor Antioch city officials will say how many police officers are under investigation by the FBI and D.A.’s Office of Antioch that began last Wednesday, March 23 and was announced last Friday. The Pittsburg Police Department immediately responded Friday afternoon informing the public on social media that three of their officers had been placed on paid leave. (See related article)

On Tuesday, Assistant Contra Costa D.A. Simon O’Connell was asked how many Antioch police officers are under investigation. He responded, “As stated on Friday, due to the ongoing nature of the investigation, no additional details will be released at this time.”

Thorpe Issues Statement Claims It’s Done to Help in Fight to Reform APD

Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe posted a statement about the investigation on social media Saturday morning, along with a video of a KPIX Channel 5 news report. But the statement did not provide any additional details and is not known if it is the official statement from the City of Antioch.

“Mayor Thorpe’s statement regarding investigation [sic] Antioch Police Officers:

Since I assumed the Office of Mayor, a little over a year ago, I have been committed to reforming the Antioch Police Department. In order to achieve our goal of having a safe city there must always be a level of trust between our community and our officers.

I appreciate the FBI’s and District Attorney’s willingness to help in our fight to reform the Antioch Police Department. They have my personal assurance that the City of Antioch will continue to assist them in this matter.”

Barbanica Posts Video, Concerned About Antioch Police Department Staffing Levels, Can’t Get Call Back with Details from Interim City Manager

Screenshot of Barbanica YouTube video on the APD investigation.

On Saturday, Antioch Mayor Pro Tem Mike Barbanica posted a YouTube video on his official Facebook page in which he said he had tried unsuccessfully 10 times to reach Interim City Manager Con Johnson to get details. Barbanica also said he was concerned about staffing levels in the police department.

“The men and women of the Antioch Police Department that are out there doing their job the right way, every day, one hundred percent have my support and I thank them for continuing to come to work…and doing everything they can to make sure we have a safe community,” he said. “The other group that we’re talking about here, I couldn’t tell you. I have no confirmation who these people are. So, I really don’t know…the true details of what’s going on.”

“I can’t get return phone calls from our city manager’s office to give me the facts,” Barbanica continued. “Very sad day for law enforcement any time police officers are investigated for anything. But I don’t know where it stands. I don’t know if an arrest has been made.”

“Staffing levels are a huge priority for me to make sure we that have enough people out there on the street,” he stated. “I can call the chief, but he can’t call me back to give me the details of it because of the policy out of the…interim city manager’s office that the department heads can’t talk to council members unless the city manager or his designee is present and I can’t even get a call back from the CM’s office.”

So, I’ll update you as I know, which right now is very little. I’ve been kept in the dark. I will let you know as I know,” Barbanica added.

Questions for Thorpe, City Council and Staff Go Unanswered

A copy of the mayor’s statement and questions were sent late Saturday night, March 26 to Thorpe, copying the other four council members, Interim City Manager Con Johnson, City Attorney Thomas Lloyd Smith, Interim Police Chief Tony Morefield, Antioch Police Officers Association President Steve Aiello, Assistant City Manager Rosanna Bayon Moore and Public Information Officer Rolando Bonilla asking, “Is that the City of Antioch’s official statement? If so, who helped you prepare it, the PIO, interim city manager, city attorney or someone else?”

If not, why hasn’t one been issued by either the PIO or APD like the statement issued by the Pittsburg Police Department, which provided the information on their three officers who have been placed on paid leave, on Friday about an hour after the DA’s office issued their press release?

If Pittsburg PD can share that information without mentioning names of their three officers, why can’t you?

If not or if so, is what you issued the appropriate and responsible way to provide a response to such an announcement?

If not, when will the official statement be issued by either the PIO, APD or you?

If not, aren’t you, again jumping to a conclusion and assuming Antioch Police officers are guilty of something wrong before the investigation has been concluded, like you did in the Angelo Quinto case?

How many Antioch Police officers are being investigated? How many have been placed on paid administrative leave? Differing reports by Bay Area TV stations are claiming 8 or 10 officers because the City isn’t doing like the Pittsburg PD has and immediately responded to the DA’s press release. From where are they obtaining that information? Is Rolando providing that to them? Has he spoken to any media about this investigation?

Have you and the other council members been informed of how many officers are being investigated and how many have been placed on paid leave? If so, when did that occur? Also, if so, have any of you shared that information with any member of the public or media? If so, to whom did you share it?

What is the definition of crimes of moral turpitude used by the FBI, DA and APD? How does it apply to the possible crimes committed by Antioch officers? Reports by Bay Area TV media claim it’s steroid abuse and jokes about officers asking if someone is bringing cocaine or heroin with them somewhere. Is any of that true and part of the investigation?

How does the investigation of an unknown number of officers have anything to do with the police reforms approved by council majorities over the past year? Are you trying to take credit for the investigation? Did DA Becton, anyone in her department or anyone in the FBI say the investigation was to help reform the Antioch Police Department?

Did you or anyone from the Antioch city government request the investigation? If so, when? Was the investigation a topic of discussion with DA Becton during your reported private meeting with her this passed Tuesday afternoon, March 22 the day before the investigation?

Was that meeting by you and the DA appropriate since, due to your DUI arrest on March 19, you’re currently the subject of an investigation by the Contra Costa DA’s Office?

Is your statement an attempt to deflect from the news about your DUI arrest?

Did she or anyone in the DA’s office or FBI inform any of you about the investigation prior to Wednesday’s actions? Did any of you speak with Becton, anyone in her department or the FBI following the Wednesday actions? If so, when, how, what was discussed and with whom?

Have any of you endorsed and/or made any financial contributions to DA Becton’s re-election campaign? If so, when and how much?

For Lamar – has Becton endorsed you in or contributed to your campaign to beat the recall? If so, when and how much?

Has the Antioch Police Officers Association endorsed Becton’s opponent, Deputy DA Mary Knox and/or contributed to her campaign? If so, when and how much?

For Interim Chief Morefield – were you aware of any of the activity by the APD officer(s)? How long has it been occurring? Was there an internal investigation done by your department? When did that occur? What were the results? Did you invite the outside investigation?

Prior to this investigation being announced I was informed there were 83 active sworn police officers on the Antioch force the previous week and 81 this past week. Are or were those figures correct? If any Antioch officers were placed on paid leave as a result of the investigation how many were also on paid leave for injury or another reason? How many active sworn officers does the APD have, now as a result of this investigation?”

No responses were received as of Thursday, March 31 at 5:00 p.m.

Becton Endorsed by Thorpe, Opponent Knox Endorsed by APOA

A review of the campaign websites for the two candidates for district attorney, incumbent Becton and challenger Deputy District Attorney Mary Knox, they show Thorpe has endorsed Becton for re-election, as well as Antioch Councilwomen Tamisha Torres-Walker and Monica Wilson. The Antioch Police Officers Association has endorsed Knox along with all the other police officers’ associations in the county, except for Richmond’s, which hasn’t endorsed either candidate, yet. In addition, Antioch Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock and Mayor Pro Tem Mike Barbanica have also endorsed Knox, although his doesn’t currently appear on the campaign website. Barbanica announced his support in a YouTube video posted on his official Facebook page.

DA’s Office Won’t Provide Clear Definition of Crimes of Moral Turpitude

Assistant D.A. O’Connell was also asked on Friday, March 25 after working hours and again on Tuesday, March 29 to provide the definition of the legal term “crimes of moral turpitude” as it is being applied in the investigation of the Antioch and Pittsburg Police Departments.

He responded, “The definition of a crime of moral turpitude is explored and articulated by the Supreme Court of California in People v Castro (1985) 38 Cal 3d 301 and People v. Beagle (1972) 6 Cal 3d 441.”

O’Connell was then asked, “You really can’t provide what your office defines as a crime of moral turpitude upon which you’re investigating two police departments?” He did not respond.

In the 1985 case, according to case-law.vlex.com, the defendant was found guilty of receiving stolen property.  In the 1972 case, also according to case-law.vlex.com, the defendant was found guilty of attempted arson and arson.

O’Connell was then asked after hours on Tuesday, “Does that mean receiving stolen property, attempted arson and arson fit the description of crimes of moral turpitude? Is your response a hint at what the possible crimes that were committed by the officers that your office is investigating?” He did not respond as of Thursday at 5:00 p.m.

Please check back later for any updates to this report.

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“Tour of Shame” held at Antioch apartment complex, rally highlight calls for eviction and tenant protections

Thursday, March 31st, 2022

Protesters hold signs during a rally across the street from Twin Creeks Apartments in Antioch before a “Tour of Shame” at the complex on Wednesday, March 30, 2022. Photos by Allen D. Payton

On eve of March 31st deadline for state’s rental assistance program and as Antioch City Council considers stronger tenant protections; new ordinances would require more city employees to enforce

About 30 people gathered for a rally before the “Tour of Shame”.

As the California Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) is set to expire today, Thursday, March 31 and housing organizations warn of pending evictions, the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE) Action-Contra Costa in cooperation with the East County Regional Group (ECRG) hosted a “Tour of Shame” at the Twin Creek Apartments on James Donlon Blvd. in Antioch on Wednesday. The effort highlighted calls for rent stabilization, tenant anti-harassment and just-cause for eviction ordinances in the city, along with the extension to ERAP.

A rally attended by about 30 people, held in the dirt lot across the street from the apartment complex, and tour follows the Antioch City Council vote on January 25, 2022 directing City staff to begin drafting ordinances, which will be brought back for votes at a future meeting.

The event began with a brief presentation from ECRG of the preliminary findings from a recent housing needs assessment of over 1,000 renters in Antioch, bringing attention to rising rents, evictions, and claims of harassment in the city. Several people spoke including District 1 Councilwoman Tamisha Torres-Walker, District 4 Councilwoman Monica Wilson and Leah Simon-Weisberg, Legal Counsel for ACCE. (See video)

The event offered preliminary findings from ECRG’s housing assessment, entitled “Antioch CHANGE – Community Housing Assessment of Needs, Gaps, and Equity”, on rising rents, evictions, and harassment concerns in the city. The report collected the housing needs and concerns of over 1,000 Antioch renters between April and June 2021. Although the survey did not ask about harassment, surveyors report hearing many stories of tenant harassment. http://www.first5coco.org/antioch-housing

Among other results, the report finds that the biggest concern of Antioch renters is housing affordability, where approximately 50% of those surveyed are concerned about the possibility of being evicted from their homes. The report also highlights that low-income Black, indigenous and other people of color families, especially single-mothers with young children, continue to face higher levels of housing insecurity and harassment.

To drive home ECRG’s report and their findings, ACCE-Contra Costa led the tour to highlight the conditions that some Antioch renters are facing such as at Twin Creek Apartments. During the rally those in attendance held signs and chanted “Fists up don’t give up”.

“FPI Management is not doing repairs,” said David Sharples, Director of ACCE-Contra Costa. “We’re doing a walk of shame to bring attention to the bad conditions.”

After gathering for a group photo, they marched with their signs across James Donlon Blvd. to the Twin Creeks Apartments where they tried to enter the rental office, but the door was locked.

Protesters in the “Tour of Shame” shouted chants outside the Twin Creeks Apartments office.

Tenant Complaints, Compliment

Before the event, tenants of the Twin Creek Apartments shared about their experiences with their building manager FPI Management, who has a history of harassment and negligence, and gave a tour of their apartments.

ACCE-member Lisa Omorowa is one of the many tenants who claim they’re facing negligence and harassment under FPI Management for the past three years. She has lived in complex with her husband and five children since 2019, and shares that most appliances and fixtures in their apartment are either outdated or are no longer working.

Many issues that Omorowa and her family face, such as both shower faucet handles in her bathrooms being so rusted that she has to turn the water on and off for her children, are considered by FPI to not be an “emergency” and are left unresolved. Their maintenance requests are met with the same level of inaction from FPI Management – issues like their oven needing replacement due to rust and nonfunctional burners, the cabinets and other fixtures falling apart, and the living room light not working since July 2021.

“This is my third year here and they have increased my rent over five times, even though everything here is old and broken down” said Omorowa, who pays $2,540 a month. “There needs to be a change of management because they make it difficult for us Black people to live here. This new management is not human, they don’t have empathy.”

Lanae Jackson is another ACCE member and a current college student living in the Twin Creek Apartments. She, like many others in the building, has experienced harassment, in which her landlord has refused to address urgent safety and habitability issues – including cockroaches, mold, and faulty electrical wiring. For example, several weeks ago a wall socket in Jackson’s apartment needed replacing and a handyman came to repair it. But instead of fixing the mistake, the handyman nailed a board over the socket to cover the hole.

Jackson is also severely rent burdened, earning $600 a month as a student advisor but paying approximately $990 for a two-bedroom apartment.

“It’s awful to not feel safe being in your own home” Jackson said about her apartment’s conditions. She hopes the city council passes stronger tenant protections for renters like her. “Passing ordinances in Antioch would finally bring peace of mind.”

A man who lives with his family in one of the Twin Creeks apartments, but who chose to not be identified, shared his experience, which is improving.

“When we first moved in, it got pushed back two weeks so they could get the placed fixed up and ready. But then we moved in and all it was, was the new carpet,” said the resident. “The mirror in the master bathroom is falling off the wall because the counter is broken and sagging. The dishwasher wasn’t fixed for six months.”

“The demo they showed us, my fiancé was star struck and fell in love instantly,” he stated. “But the apartment we moved into smelled and had calcium build up in the shower. Had they actually cleaned it, they would have seen it.”

For their two-bedroom, two-bath unit with one single assigned parking slot he said he pays $2,160 per month on a 14-month lease.

He did point out something positive currently occurring at Twin Creeks.

“The new maintenance guy they have is good. But he’s getting overworked. He’s at my apartment but has to leave for an emergency to another apartment,” the tenant stated.

FPI owns other complexes, he shared, including the one where his daughter lives, in Davis and is experiencing the same challenges.

As the group stood near the front of the rental office, they were led in chanting, “FPI, you’re no good. Make repairs like you should,” and “FPI, you can’t hide. We can see your greedy side,” and “What do we want? Repairs, now!”

Protesters march on the “Tour of Shame” inside the Twin Creeks Apartment complex.

“FPI is known for buying properties, pushing tenants out and jacking up the rent,” said Simon-Weisberg.

Asked who should tenants turn to for help, she said, “There’s no enforcement in Contra Costa County. That’s why it has to happen at the city level.”

Asked who would enforce the proposed ordinances in the city, police or Code Enforcement, Simon-Weisberg explained, “it will have to be city employees, part of an enforcement team.”

“Fight, fight, fight. Housing is a human right,” the group was also led in chanting.

“Aqui estamos. Y no nos vamos,” they chanted in Spanish, meaning we are her and we aren’t leaving.

Sharples placed a demand letter through the mail slot in the door to the office. Addressed to FPI Management, the list of demands included, hire professional maintenance staff, fix the plumbing, eradicate the mold, repair the lighting fixtures, fix all non-emergency work orders right away and give adequate notice before water shut-offs.

He then led the group of protesters on a walk through the complex.

FPI Management Does Not Respond

The Folsom-based FPI Management’s slogan on their company website of “Culture Grounded in H.E.A.R.T.”, refers to Humility, Excellence, Accountability, Respect and Teamwork. Several efforts to reach someone at the company for comment about the rally and tour, and a response to the complaints from their tenants at Twin Creeks were unsuccessful. In addition, a message was left on the voicemail for Twin Creeks Apartments on Thursday, but no response was received as of publication time at 4:25 p.m.

Antioch Has High Eviction Rate

The city of Antioch has been the ground for the largest number of evictions within the Bay Area according to a March 2021 KQED investigative report which found Antioch’s eviction rate to be 207.2 per 100,000 renter households. That’s nearly double that of Richmond and approximately 50 times the rate of Oakland. Moreover, 60 percent of Antioch renters, who make up 40% of all Antioch residents, report paying more than 30 percent of their income on rent in 2021.

More video of the day’s action can be viewed on ACCE’s Facebook page.

Allen D. Payton contributed to this report.

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Park District presents design of new regional park on former Roddy Ranch golf course in Antioch

Wednesday, March 30th, 2022

Roddy Ranch regional park Preferred Concept Birdseye View. Source: EBRPD

By Eddie Willis, Planner, East Bay Regional Park District

Location of regional park planned for the former Roddy Ranch golf course in Antioch. Source: EBRPD

Greetings Regional Park supporters!

Notable features of the preferred design concept include:

  • Approximately 4 miles of new trails, including a 1.6-mile accessible loop
  • Dedicated equestrian and bus parking
  • An interpretive pavilion and shade structure
  • An upper and lower picnic area
  • Two acres of enhanced seasonal wetlands and vernal pools
  • 7 miles of channel restoration/creation/enhancement

Roddy Ranch regional park Preferred Concept Plan. Source: EBRPD

These design documents can be directly viewed on the project webpage, and here is a brief summary of each:

  • Preferred Concept – Video Overview: a short video explaining the main elements of the preferred design concept.
  • Preferred Concept – Map: The preferred concept focuses on maximizing wetland habitat and drainage channels by directing water to existing wetlands and by creating new vernal pool and pond features. Runoff at the top of the watershed will strategically flow along the surface and underground toward the wetlands at the base of the hills. Recreational improvements are concentrated toward the east and allow the open landscape to be experienced toward the west. A short accessible loop welcomes users at the entrance and is paved with concrete, reminiscent of the former golf course cart paths. The trail network also includes an additional accessible trail, as well as overlooks and longer earthen trails that lead visitors through a variety of experiences.
  • Preferred Concept – Bird’s Eye View: This is a perspective view of the preferred trail alignments and restoration features of the future park at the former golf course. The view is looking northwest toward Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve in the distance. The future staging area is at the bottom center of the image.
  • East Overlook – Rendering: This image shows the reuse of a former golf tee box as an informal overlook. Mt. Diablo is not visible from all locations onsite, but it is from this overlook. Informal multi-use trails are shown meandering across the hillside in the background.
  • Staging Area – Rendering: This image shows the new multi-use accessible trail and the shade pavilion in the background with the new parking lot/staging area marked by the grove of trees to the far right.

If you have any comments or questions on the preferred design concept, the project team would be happy to receive them through the project page’s Comment Box here.

Thank you for supporting the Park District and Habitat Conservancy’s efforts to develop this 230-acre former golf course into Antioch’s newest Regional Park, and please feel free to reach out to me directly at ewillis@ebparks.org or 510-544-2621.

 

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Contra Costa DA Becton holds private meeting in her office with Antioch Mayor Thorpe three days after his DUI arrest

Wednesday, March 30th, 2022

Contra Costa County District Attorney Diana Becton and Antioch Mayor Thorpe.

While DA’s office investigating incident; city attorney or interim city manager may have been present; topic of discussion not revealed

By Allen D. Payton

Three days after Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe was arrested for DUI and while the Contra Costa District Attorney’s Office was investigating the incident, on Tuesday, March 22, 2022, he held a private meeting with D.A. Diana Becton in her office in Martinez, according to reports of what was seen on her visitor sign-in log. Neither Becton, her staff nor Thorpe will say what the meeting was about or if anyone else, such as the city attorney or interim city manager, was in the room with them. Becton is running for re-election in the June Primary and Thorpe is facing possible recall. (See related article)

A Public Records Act request for a copy of the visitor sign-in log for Becton’s office for that day was emailed on Friday, March 25 at 3:55 p.m. to Assistant D.A. Simon O’Connell and Becton’s Executive Assistant Bobbi Mauler.

Questions for Becton About Meeting Go Unanswered

In addition, questions for Becton about the meeting were included in that email asking, “What was the purpose of that meeting? What was discussed? Did it have anything to do with Thorpe’s arrest for DUI by the CHP last Saturday morning? Was anyone else in the meeting with you two?”

It was then shared with Becton and her staff, “according to the CHP PIO you will not allow that department to release Thorpe’s complete arrest report showing the reason the officer pulled him over or what his blood alcohol content was when he was tested at the CHP office in Martinez.”

She was then asked, “was it appropriate for you to have such a meeting – even if his arrest was not a topic of conversation – when his arrest is under investigation by your department?”

At 4:09 p.m., that day O’Connell issued a press release about the investigation of the Antioch and Pittsburg Police Departments for possible “crimes of moral turpitude”. (See related article)

Questions for Thorpe Go Unanswered

In an email on Friday, March 25, Thorpe was asked, “What was the purpose of that meeting? When did you first schedule the meeting with the DA? What was discussed?  Did it have anything to do with your arrest for DUI by the CHP last Saturday morning? Was anyone else in the meeting with you two?”

He was then told, “according to the CHP PIO the DA’s office will not allow the CHP to release your complete arrest report showing the reason the officer pulled you over or what your blood alcohol content was when you were tested at the CHP office in Martinez.”

Thorpe was also asked, “was it appropriate for you to have such a meeting – even if your arrest was not a topic of conversation – while your arrest is under investigation by the Contra Costa District Attorney’s office? Were you seeking favorable treatment from the DA in dealing with your arrest? Might it give the appearance that you were seeking a favor from the DA who is up for election, this year and while you are facing possible recall?”

He was then asked if instead, was the meeting in regard to the press release issued by the DA’s office received, that day and if he had filed a complaint about that the allegations against the Antioch Police officers with the DA’s office during that meeting.

Thorpe did not respond as of Wednesday, March 30 at 5:00 p.m.

DA Refuses to Confirm Meeting, Claims Privilege in Not Releasing Visitor Log, Won’t Reveal Topic of Discussion or If Anyone else Present

In response to the PRA request to the D.A.’s office for a copy of the visitor log, Assistant D.A. Simon O’Connell wrote in a letter on Tuesday, March 29, “Records that contain information protected by the deliberative process privilege and the official information privilege, are exempt from disclosure. (Gov. Code, section 6254(a), (k); Evid Code, section 1040; Rogers v. Superior Court (1993) 19 Cal.App.4th 469.) In accordance case precedent, the release of visitor logs would inihibit the free and candid exchange of ideas necessary to the decision-making process. (Times Mirror Co (1988) 53 Cal.3. 1325.) There is a compelling public interest in enabling public agencies to evaluate and candidly communicate in confidence. Public disclosure of such information interferes with the District Attorney’s Office ability to meaningfully deliberate and perform core functions. For these reasons, the public interest in nondisclosure of this information clearly outweighs the public interest in disclosure.”

In response, additional questions were sent Tuesday afternoon to both O’Connell and Mauler, including, “Confirming that a meeting was held by the DA in her office with an elected official who is currently under investigation for a DUI arrest just three days prior is not of public interest? Is the visitor log a public document? If not, what’s the purpose of having one? Can you please at least confirm if a meeting was held by DA Becton in her office with Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe and if anyone else was in the meeting with them, and if so, who that was?”

No response was received as of Wednesday, March 30 at 5:00 p.m.

Mayor Pro Tem Barbanica Says He Should Have Been in Meeting Instead of Thorpe

When reached for comment about the meeting, Antioch Mayor Pro Tem Mike Barbanica said, “I don’t know anything about the meeting. But if there was one and if it was regarding the investigation of the Antioch Police Department and the mayor had asked for me to go in his place, I would have and I should have been there instead. I did not receive any calls about it.”

Please check back later for any updates to this report.

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Tryouts for The Whiz Jr. play for Antioch residents only begin Thursday

Tuesday, March 29th, 2022

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Contra Costa Public Defender wants names of Antioch, Pittsburg officers under investigation by DA

Tuesday, March 29th, 2022

McDonnell issues statement about investigation, wants to conduct own review of cases; Becton hasn’t responded

By Allen D. Payton

In a letter to Contra Costa District Attorney Diana Becton on Monday, Contra Costa Public Defender Ellen McDonnell asked for the names of the Antioch and Pittsburg Police officers who are the subjects of an investigation into possible crimes of moral turpitude. The DA’s office announced last Friday the investigation which began last Wednesday and “a review of both active and closed cases involving these officers…to evaluate whether those cases are now compromised.” (See related article)

McDonnell is also asking for all the current, pending cases the involving the officers so her office can conduct a separate review. As of 5:00 p.m. Tuesday, McDonnell said she had not received a response from Becton.

“To date, I have not been provided with any information about what this investigation of the officers is about,” McDonnell later shared.

Following is the letter:

“March 28, 2022

Diana Becton

Office of the District Attorney

900 Ward Street

Martinez, CA 94553

Dear Diana,

In light of the recent media disclosures regarding conduct involving moral turpitude on the part of officers from Pittsburg and Antioch Police Departments, I am requesting that you identify all officers from those departments currently under investigation by your office. We believe that such a disclosure is mandated by the United States Constitution, XIVth Amendment, Brady v. Maryland (1963) 373 U.S. 83 & progeny, and California case law.

I am also asking that you identify all cases currently pending that include any of the involved officers, as well as all previous cases involving those officers. Please provide us with a list of such cases in which the client is or was represented by the Office of the Public Defender or the Office of the Alternate Defender.

While we understand from your press release that you intend to conduct an internal review of affected cases, we respectfully request that you identify those officers so that we can conduct our own review according to our own practices.

Thank you in advance for your assistance and cooperation with this matter. If you have any questions about this request, please let me know.

Sincerely,

Ellen McDonnell

Public Defender Contra Costa County”

————————–

According to supreme.justia.com, in the case McDonnell cited, the court found, “The government’s withholding of evidence that is material to the determination of either guilt or punishment of a criminal defendant violates the defendant’s constitutional right to due process.”

McDonnell Issues Statement About Investigation

The Public Defender issued the following statement Tuesday evening:

“I am deeply concerned about these revelations.  Our office first heard about this investigation when the District Attorney’s Office issued a press release on March 25th.  We immediately requested that the names of any involved officers be released to our office so that we could begin the process of reviewing impacted cases and determining what role these officers played in any arrests or convictions.  Timely transparency is necessary to ensure due process of law and the fair administration of justice for our community and for those impacted by our criminal legal system, some of whom may be currently incarcerated based on the word of these officers.

This investigation into the conduct of officers from both the Pittsburg and Antioch Police Departments will potentially impact many hundreds of cases.  This includes not only current cases where these officers are witnesses, but also previous arrests and convictions involving these officers.  It is important to determine whether these officers were under investigation and suspected of committing crimes of moral turpitude while they continued to remain on the force and continued to arrest individuals, to author police reports, and to testify as witnesses in criminal court.”

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CHP: Antioch Mayor Thorpe under investigation by DA’s office for DUI, possibly weaving when stopped

Tuesday, March 29th, 2022

DA won’t allow CHP to release arrest report showing Blood Alcohol Concentration level, probable cause for stop; Thorpe refuses to answer questions about incident, prior activity on Friday

By Allen D. Payton

A Public Records Act (PRA) request to the CHP was submitted Monday afternoon March 21, for the report of Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe’s arrest for DUI, early Saturday morning, March 19, showing his Blood Alcohol Concentration level at the time, and for the probable cause the officer had for pulling him over. CHP Golden Gate Division Public Information Officer Andrew Barclay was also asked if Thorpe was swerving, driving too fast or too slow. In response Barclay wrote, “I believe he was stopped for weaving.” In addition, copies of the officer’s car dash and body cam videos were requested. (See related article)

However, Barclay said the Contra Costa District Attorney won’t allow the CHP to release any additional information on Thorpe’s arrest because the incident was under investigation by the DA’s office.

In a formal response letter to the PRA request on Tuesday, March 29, CHP Golden Gate Division Chief C.C. Costigan wrote, “these records are being withheld pursuant to Government Code section 6254(f).” That section does not require the disclosure of records of investigations conducted by state or local law enforcement agencies. In addition, regarding release of audio and video recordings of an incident Section 6254(f)(4)(A)(ii) reads, “up to one year from that date, the agency may continue to delay disclosure of a recording if the agency demonstrates that disclosure would substantially interfere with the investigation.”  CHP PRA Response Letter 032922

Barclay suggested the Herald “resubmit a subsequent PRA for both the report and dash cam footage once the DA’s office has concluded their investigation.”

Questions for Thorpe Go Unanswered

Because people are questioning his claim in the video apology in which he said “the drink” meaning he had only one alcoholic beverage that night, he was asked the following additional questions Monday, March 21: “Did you have more than one drink that night? With whom did you have dinner and a drink Friday night/Saturday morning? Is that friend willing to corroborate your claim of you only having one alcoholic beverage?

Where did you eat dinner and have a drink? Will the server or bartender corroborate your story?

How long were you at the establishment? Did you go to more than one restaurant or bar that night? Did you or the person you had dinner with pay with cash or by credit/debit card? Did either one of you keep the receipt(s) from your dinner and drink?

Are you willing to provide copies of the receipt(s) for the public to see to support your claim of only having one drink? At what time do you remember having the drink and finishing it?”

Additional questions were sent to Thorpe Tuesday morning, March 29 asking, “Did you consume any alcoholic beverages at those or any restaurants or bars, either in Antioch or anywhere else on Friday, prior to leaving Antioch and East County and arriving at the location where you claim you had dinner with a friend and ‘the drink’?

What was your Blood Alcohol Content that the CHP measured in your chemical test they administered? Who drove you home from the CHP office in Martinez? Were you still inebriated at that time? Have you ever been stopped before for driving under the influence? Have you ever claimed to be inebriated at the time you were accused of another crime? Have you ever sought drug or alcohol abuse counseling?”

Thorpe did not respond as of Tuesday, March 29 at 4:30 PM.

Please check back later for his answers and any other updates to this report.

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