Illegally released emails show former Antioch police chief questioned outside investigator on proper definition of “uncivil” in draft report

Copy of the email message from City Attorney Smith to Antioch council members. Date unknown but assumed to be sometime in September 2021.

City attorney claims that caused him to “believe that the investigation of the complaint by Tamisha Torres-Walker has been compromised”

Only three emails released, city won’t release others or give Brooks opportunity to respond, defend himself against accusations

Reveal possible internal power struggle between Brooks, Smith

Only two council members, city clerk deny releasing emails; Barbanica wants investigation into leaks, disciplinary action; city attorney won’t say consequences for releasing them

Former Antioch Police Chief Tammany Brooks. Photo: APD

By Allen D. Payton

As of Thursday, Feb. 24, portions of email conversations between former Antioch Police Chief Tammany Brooks and outside investigator Vida Thomas, on which City Attorney Thomas Lloyd Smith was copied, and from Smith to the city council, regarding the investigation on the claim by District 1 Councilwoman Tamisha Torres-Walker against the police officers involved in the incident with her sons in December 2020, were made public. The incident, as previously reported, involved her 13-year-old and adult sons illegally riding an offroad dirt bike and quad on city streets, and the councilwoman’s interaction with the officers who pursued both and stopped her younger son, after her adult son fled the scene, went home and returned with his mother. (See related article)

The email exchange is about the draft report by Ms. Thomas, an attorney with Oppenheimer Investigations Group (OIG), hired to provide an independent investigation of the incident, and claims by Torres-Walker that Officer Calvin Prieto “behaved in an ‘uncivil, disorderly or unprofessional manner” towards Ms. Walker, in violation of APD Policy 1001.3.4(a).” Emails TLSmith VThomas, TBrooks 09-21

Vida Thomas, Partner, Oppenheimer Investigations Group. Photo: OIG

Her use of the term “uncivil” was based on the dictionary definition, not that used by the Antioch Police Department.

Antioch resident Frank Sterling said he obtained the emails in his capacity as a reporter for KPFA radio but wouldn’t say how or from whom. Asked if he had received any additional emails between Brooks, Smith and Thomas, Sterling responded, “that’s it.”

As previously reported last October, Torres-Walker claimed city attorney Smith told all council members Brooks interfered with the investigation. (See related article)

Incomplete Email Record

The emails are incomplete as they don’t show all the communications between Brooks, Smith and Ms. Thomas about the investigation. Only three emails were released, and the city refuses to release the others or give Brooks the opportunity to respond and defend the accusations against him.

Reveal Possible Power Struggle Between Brooks, Smith

According to the email from Ms. Thomas, she claimed “persistent disagreements” between Brooks and Smith over who Oppenheimer’s client was, the police chief or city attorney, that “created some tension between the two”.

However, Brooks responded to her, “It is my understanding that OIG’s client was neither myself nor the city attorney, but instead was ‘the City of Antioch’” and “which should make…who is OIG’s client irrelevant to your findings

Questions for City Attorney, Torres-Walker, Other Council Members, City Staff

Antioch District 1 Councilwoman Tamisha Torres-Walker. Herald file photo.

The following questions were sent Thursday afternoon, Feb. 24, 2022, to Smith, Torres-Walker, and copying Interim City Manager Con Johnson, Interim Police Chief Tony Morefield, the other four council members and Brooks asking, “what date was your email sent to the council, please, Thomas?

How did providing the correct definition of a term used by both the APD and outside investigator to ensure its proper application cause Brooks to compromise the investigation? Did he tell Ms. Thomas to change her investigation report or merely ask her questions about her draft?

Thomas, did you see the previous email communications between Brooks and Vida Thomas? Or did you just not read them and discovered the final report was different from the draft report which caught you by surprise? Did you challenge Brooks and/or Ms. Thomas after reading their previous communications which, according to her email, you both were copied on? Also, for Thomas and Tamisha, did you two have any communication about the draft report prior to the final report being issued? If so, please provide any and all email, handwritten or typed, or details of verbal communications about the draft and/or final reports.

Is it wrong for the police chief to question anything in any report about the conduct of his officers, whether it’s internally developed or from an outside investigator, especially if it’s merely challenging the use of the definition of a term and how it’s applied by the department?

Thomas Lloyd Smith. Photo from his LinkedIn page.

Now that these emails are public, will you, the interim city manager and interim police chief release the rest of the emails between you, Brooks and Ms. Thomas regarding the outside investigation the councilwoman requested, so that our former police chief is free to defend the accusations against him? Also, so the public can see the other issue upon which Thomas Smith’s belief that the investigation was compromised?”

City Attorney Smith was also asked, “how does the issue mentioned in these emails rise to the level of Brooks compromising the investigation? Or is it the other issue that’s not included in these emails that caused you to have that belief? If so or if not, what is that other issue, please?

Who would it possibly harm if the other related emails are released? If you claim it’s the two officers involved in the incident who are now suing the City and Councilwoman Torres-Walker, let’s ask them if they mind the emails being released.”

The following questions were sent to Attorney Smith both Thursday and Friday, Feb. 24 and 25, 2022 and Interim Chief Tony Morefield on Friday: “Has another outside investigator been hired for the investigation into the police incident with Councilwoman Torres-Walker’s sons riding their dirt bikes on city streets? If so, when did that occur and is that investigation completed? If not, is that currently ongoing? If not, do you still plan to hire another outside investigator in the matter?” (See related article)

The questions were resent at 12:03 PM, Thursday, March 3 and included City Clerk Ellie Householder and Public Information Officer Rolando Bonilla providing information from previous reports by the Herald and with the additional question asking, “Which one of you released/provided/emailed a copy of the attached emails to either Frank Sterling, Lacey Brown/Ferguson or another member of the public? Lacey mentioned it in an Oct. 5, 2021, Facebook post that I reported on in an article published on Oct. 8, 2021 – Antioch councilwoman claims city attorney told all council members former police chief interfered with investigation of December incident with her sons | Antioch Herald

She claims it was from a Public Records Act request. But I find that doubtful.

However, if that’s true, then why wasn’t it shared with the Herald, as I made the PRA last fall for the emails between APD, the City and Oppenheimer and was denied my request. – 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 | Antioch Herald

As asked last fall but not responded to, is it a violation of state law? What are the consequences for doing so? Since Councilwoman Torres-Walker publicly mentioned the email between City Attorney Smith and the council, was that a violation of attorney client privilege? Was it a violation of state law?

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? If there was one, has it been completed and are the results different than the draft or final reports in the first investigation?”

Barbanica, Ogorchock, Householder Say They Didn’t Release the Emails, Barbanica Wants Person Who Did Disciplined

In response Barbanica called and asked where the Herald obtained the copy of the emails. He later said, “I reached out to the city attorney, and I encouraged the city staff to go into the server and see if they could determine where those came from based on everybody that had them. And if, in fact they could determine where they came from to take appropriate disciplinary action.”

“This is an ongoing litigation and releasing anything from it is improper,” Barbanica continued. “I can’t release anything. I won’t release anything. I have encouraged the city attorney to investigate this and try to determine where they came from and to take appropriate disciplinary action against that person.

Ogorchock also responded by asking for the Herald’s source for the emails. She later denied releasing them saying, “no. I honored the attorney client privilege and the Brown Act, and closed session rules. I wouldn’t violate those. I’m pretty sure who did.”

Asked who she thought that was, Ogorchock wouldn’t say.

Householder responded, “the City Clerk’s Office did not receive (and thus, did not process) a request for those records. This does not mean they were not released by another office or individual, since the public can request records directly from departments.”

“Since there are employees who no longer work for the City of Antioch, I will forward your records request to the Information Services Department to specifically check those closed email accounts to see if they received and/or processed a request for that email,” she added.

No other responses were received as of Friday morning, March 4, 2022. A formal Public Records Act request was made for any and all emails from the council members’ and city clerk’s official email accounts to and from their personal email accounts and/or to members of the public between Sept. 10 and Oct. 5, 2021, which include any city documents or emails from City Attorney Thomas Lloyd Smith. The city has up to 10 days to respond.

Emails from City Attorney to Council Members, Between Brooks and Investigator

Following are the three emails including one from City Attorney Smith to the city council members which included two emails between Brooks and outside investigator Vida Thomas. No date was provided for the first one:

“Mayor Thorpe, Mayor Pro Tem Wilson and City Council Members,

I believe that the investigation of the complaint by Tamisha Torres-Walker has been compromised. Please see the email discussion below.

Thomas Lloyd Smith

City Attorney


From: Vida Thomas <email address redacted by the Herald>

Sent: Friday, September 10, 2021 11:02 AM

To: Brooks, Tammany <>; Smith, Thomas Lloyd


Subject: Concern about report finding

Hello, Chief Brooks and Mr. Smith.

It has come to my attention that there are concerns about one of the findings in my final report. Specifically, the finding concerning whether Officer Prieto behaved in an “uncivil, disorderly or unprofessional manner” towards Ms. Walker, in violation of APD Policy 1001.3.4(a). Because the finding in my draft report was different from the finding in my final report, I want to clarify the sequence of events leading up to my final finding.

My draft report contained a finding sustaining the allegation that Officer Prieto had behaved in an “uncivil” manner. As my draft report indicated, I reached this finding by applying the Oxford dictionary definition of “uncivil.” After reading my draft finding, Chief Brooks informed me of the APD’s interpretation of Policy 1001.3.4, which uses a higher standard than expressed by the dictionary definition of “uncivil.” I determined that Officer Prieto’s behavior did not violate this higher standard as articulated by the Chief.

Although I explained this reasoning in the final report, I did not explain that I believed that Officer Prieto’s behavior met the dictionary definition of “uncivil.” I would be happy to provide an addendum to the final report that includes this clarification.

This investigation was unique because there were persistent disagreements about who OIG’s client was: the Police Chief (with whom OIG executed the investigation contract) or the City Attorney (whose budget funded the investigation). As you both know, this created some tension between the two of you, which made it advisable that I include you both in all of my communications. I did not do that regarding this amended finding,

which I regret. However, at all times, I endeavored to conduct an impartial investigation, balance the apparently conflicting interests of the police department and the city attorney’s office, and reach findings that were driven by the evidence and nothing else. I believe I did that.

If either of you would like me to prepare and attach an addendum as described above to the final report, please let me know in writing, and I will be happy to provide it.


From: Brooks, Tammany <>

Sent: Monday, September 13, 2021 10:04 AM

To: ‘Vida Thomas’ <email address redacted by the Herald>; Smith, Thomas Lloyd


Subject: RE: Concern about report finding

Good morning Vida,

It is my understanding that OIG’s client was neither myself nor the city attorney, but instead was “the City of Antioch.” Additionally, the service requested was “to conduct an impartial investigation” into the matter, which should make the question as to who is OIG’s client irrelevant to your findings. I trust that your final work product is reflective of your contracted obligations, and as such do not need an addendum.

Thank you,”

the attachments to this post:

Vida Thomas OIG

Emails TLSmith VThomas, TBrooks 09-21
Emails TLSmith VThomas, TBrooks 09-21

Email from city attorney to Antioch council 09-21

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