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

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.

the attachments to this post:

Barbanica video re APD investigation

Thorpe statement on APD investigation

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