Antioch Council unanimously supports all three audits of police department

Mayor Thorpe told a woman in the audience to leave the Chambers for calling out from her seat during the special Antioch City Council meeting Tuesday, April 18, 2023. Video screenshot.

Following protest rally and march from Antioch Police station to City Hall, mayor has several residents removed from meeting

By Allen D. Payton

Following a protest rally and march of about 100 people from the Antioch Police Department to City Hall, the city council held a special meeting on Tuesday, April 18, 2023 at 5:00 p.m. to discuss three matters in response to the recent racist and offensive text scandal by some of the city’s officers. The protesters and other residents packed the seats resulting in a standing room only crowd during the meeting that was at times contentious with Mayor Lamar Thorpe having some residents removed for misbehavior. But he allowed one of his supporters to return and speak twice more.

A planned protest at and march from the Antioch Police Department to City Hall was held prior to the council meeting Tuesday, April 18, 2023. Photos by Allen D. Payton

During roll call at the beginning of the meeting, Mayor Pro Tem Tamisha Torres-Walker said, “I just want to make it clear, I’m not here to do business as usual. I think the public should be heard and I think we should shut it down. I’m present but I think we should shut it down.”

“We are here to hear you,” Thorpe said. “We have three items on the agenda, tonight.”

“We want change in Antioch,” yelled one of those in the audience.

Thorpe identified her as Mrs. Gardner, giving her a first warning. “If I have to warn you again, I will have the police…” He was referring to Antioch resident and homeless advocate Nichole Gardner.

Then he gave a first warning to Johnny Trizutto who was also yelling from the audience.

“This is your warning, Lamar. You’re a sucker,” Trizutto said.

“OK. You can leave,” Thorpe responded.

Item 1. – AUDIT OF THE ANTIOCH POLICE DEPARTMENT’S INTERNAL AFFAIRS PROCESS. Recommended Action: It is recommended that the City Council discuss, receive public comments, and provide direction to staff.

“We need to understand what the process is,” Thorpe said.

“We don’t need to know specific names of officers,” he continued.

“Yes, we do,” members of the audience responded.

Thorpe suggested hiring an outside firm, Mr. Greg Roland (sp?).

Public Comments on Item 1

He then opened up to public comments limiting them from the normal three minutes to one-and-a-half minutes. Almost all of the speakers were in favor of an audit of APD’s Internal Affairs. But some wanted to just defund the police.

Thorpe interrupted the first resident to speak for speaking off the subject.

“I’m here to talk about healing. To offer my services as a former counselor,” she said. “The council needs to have paid internships and staff positions to facilitate the healing process,” she concluded.

Pastor Lamont Francies referred to Antioch Police Chief Allan Cantando being married to the current Antioch School District Superintendent Stephanie Anello.

Shagoofa Kahn, who was a subject of some of the texts revealed in the DA’s Office reports, spoke next saying the offensive name she was called by one of the officers.

“I do support a full investigation…and those officers fired,” she said. “We are ready. This change we have been fighting for years, now. Unfortunately, we do need policing in our community. But we need good officers.”

Resident Gigi Crowder said, “I was triggered…it reminded me I fought all the way to the top for my sons when they were victimized by Antioch cops. I didn’t know they rotate cops. We need to have an accounting of how Internal Affairs monitors that system. I believed there would be a change when we elected three council members who I believe to be African American. We need to stop turning not bureaucracy and turning to God for change.”

“An audit is wholly insufficient,” a man name Ali said. He wants an outside agency rather than Internal audit the department. “We need to defund this police department,” he concluded.

A representative of the Contra Costa Central Labor Council condemned the racist texts and said the Antioch Police Officers Association is not part of their organization. He called the texts “an obliteration of trust.”

David Whitfield said, “I do support a complete audit of the police department.”

He spoke of his son being murdered seven years ago. “The police only came to my house and spoke to us two times. They called me combative. What happened to my son who was shot by four, clean-cut white men? I would like to see an audit of your phones. Thorpe, we have had conversations. You ignored them.”

“What kind of process will it be? We need to change the culture,” another lady said.

Francisco Torres said, “I agree with everyone here, it’s not working. We talked about reform. The police chief talked about reframe. We need a restructure, completely, everything. You need the civilian oversight commission to have power. Not advisory. Both in hiring, both in internal affairs. We want them to have power.”

Pastor Damon Owens of Genesis Church spoke next saying, “I am a victim of police brutality and have witnessed police corruption. What do you do that the color of your skin is the weapon people fear? Accountability is a two-way street. If a restaurant owner is held accountable…why aren’t our officers held accountable, as well? We need a complete overhaul of how we do things, here.”

The pastor’s wife spoke next saying she agreed with her husband in support of an audit of the department then read a prayer.

A woman who identified that she’s Mexican read a letter about her sons and the mayor had to cut her off, telling her, “I got your letter.”

“I feel like everyone should be investigated, the DA’s…everyone in the system,” one man said.

Katherine Wade spoke of her son, Malad Baldwin, who she claims was killed by Antioch police in 2014 and was a subject of some of the texts.

A Hispanic man said on Cinco de Mayo 2021 and his brother were assaulted by Antioch Police officers. “I feel we were treated like this because we were Mexican on Cinco de Mayo,” he said. “I’ve been targeted by many police departments for years…and I just wanted it documented.”

A woman named Arnita said, “We need IA to be investigated and whoever is investigating them needs to be investigated. I work in the medical field. I had to take an oath to cause no harm. These officers also have to take an oath.”

“Is there really anyone on this council that’s questioning…whether or not there needs to be an audit,” said a woman who said she moved to Antioch from Oakland. “It needs to be the people of Antioch who need to be in the room. This police department is rotten. We need to have this audit by the people then we need to have community policing.”

“When I got kicked in the face and called a f—g-t, that was 14 years ago,” Frank Sterling said. “And making jokes about kicking me in the face. Everybody who received those texts whether they texted back needs to be fired.”

Chief Public Defender Ellen McDonnell also spoke on the matter saying, “I’m deeply concerned and outraged. The community and our clients have been sounding the alarm about your department for years and years and years. We can’t downplay this issue. This isn’t just a few officers. There are 45 officers on these text chains…16 in leadership…one in Internal Affairs showing police can’t police the police. Our office will do everything we can…I ask this council for full transparency.”

“I’m so happy this came to light,” said Malad Baldwin’s aunt.

Kimberly Kidd Bailey said, “My grandson was falsely accused. The police went to San Francisco to coerce him…to change his story that he didn’t see anything. I’m for a full investigation from the top on down and not from anyone saying they recommend someone. I can’t trust anybody who sits in any seat in Antioch, period and change needs to happen, soon.”

Thorpe then directed the police chief to remove a man and then kicked out a woman who was speaking out from the audience.

Tim Manly, the father of former APD Officer Timothy Manly Williams who quit in 2021 and is a subject of both the FBI investigation and named in the racist text scandal, spoke next calling out District 3 Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock saying, “you’re old Antioch. You want it to be old Antioch, again. You know it.” He also spoke about former Police Chief “Tammany Brooks. I know you’re watching. You’re a coward. You ran. You left. You always tried to prove you’re a Black man. We have a Black police chief, now.”

A woman who said she’s lived in Antioch for 40 years read, “Proverbs 28:5 says, ‘evil people don’t understand justice.’”

“I think we need to have an audit of everybody,” she added.

Thorpe then directed Acting City Manager Forrest Ebbs to ensure either the chief or Captain Tony Morefield remove people upon his request.

Council Comments on Item 1

District 2 Councilman Mike Barbanica spoke first saying, “Thank you everyone for your comments, tonight. What I keep hearing from the community is ‘I feel betrayed.’”

“When I was in the academy, that was a long, long time ago. They said, ‘the badge you pin on is a badge of trust.’ The agency I came from had some problems.

Thorpe then asked Patricia Granados to leave for interrupting Barbanica.

“I’ve received phone calls from current and retired officers from here and elsewhere, as well asking me to support these issues,” he concluded.

Ogorchock said next, “There’s not a lot that I can say.”

The audience reacted and Thorpe had to shut the down.

“I didn’t get to finish my sentence. I am going to support this item,” she added.

District 4 Councilwoman Monica Wilson said, “I hear you. We hear you. We’re going to correct this. The texts were a symptom of a disease. Tonight, I’m angry, too.” She then read from prepared remarks.

“What’s happening at the Antioch Police Department should make you angry…it should make you do something,” she continued. “Chief Ford…this moment isn’t about anti-racism classes in your department. The community doesn’t want a dog and pony show any more. This moment is about the elimination of members of the Antioch Police Department.”

“The text messages are a symptom of a larger disease,” Wilson continued. She compared them to the cancer her father suffered and died from in 2010. “Never again will I miss the signs.”

“I need to hear you say on the record you’re prepared to terminate…regardless of rank and clout,” she continued. “Can you make that commitment to us, Chief Ford. No hiding behind words like process and investigation.”

Mayor Pro Tem Tamisha Torres-Walker spoke next saying, “I don’t have a lot articulate to say. I clearly support this audit. This could have been handled a long time ago. We still haven’t spoke about the billion dollars in settlements paid out by this council for police brutality. Someone might want to show up at the school board because they wanted police on campus. I believe this audit will take place, but I also believe it will be six months to a year before anything takes place. I’m not here for symbolism or to grandstand. The real question is what do we do, now?”

Thorpe spoke last saying, “I generally hear consensus. I think I’ve said enough at the last council meeting. Although some people have twisted my words. I said what I’m going to say and I’m not taking them back. It’s frustrating being up here, being an elected official. These processes take a long time. I appreciate having a unified voice on this. Even when you have consensus. In 2020 I just asked to have a committee…and some people could have hung me from the highest tree in Antioch. As they fought against something so simple, so basic, I realized the enormous task ahead of us. We were fortunate to have a progressive majority on the council.

He repeated the false narrative of “two in custody deaths” in his first month in office, including Angelo Quinto who died three days after the incident with police who rescued his family from him harming them, while Quinto was in the hospital and not in police custody.

“This is not the course we set out…this just happened and we’re dealing with it the best we can,” Thorpe continued. “I understand that there are people out there…I know you’re angry. We get those frustrations. It’s heartbreaking to hear all these stories.”

“I want to be very clear. This is our audit. This is our timeline. This is not your audit. I see the city attorney over there with consternation because he doesn’t like what I said. You may disagree. I don’t really care. This is our audit. You got the direction.

“We’ve got the direction,” City Attorney Thomas L. Smith responded.

“I want to be clear the audience said this is their audit,” Torres-Walker said. “If it’s the people’s audit then the people should choose the auditor,” to applause from the audience.

Item #2 – AUDIT OF THE ANTIOCH POLICE DEPARTMENT’S HIRING (PROCESSES) AND PROMOTIONAL PRACTICES Recommended Action: It is recommended that the City Council discuss, receive public comments, and provide direction to staff.

“It should read ‘processes’,” Thorpe said. “What goes into the hiring processes and promotional practices because I don’t think we know what goes into it.”

“We need to look at how the payouts work. I think police need to have their own insurances much like doctors…do,” a Mr. Torres stated during public comments on the item. “We need to make sure civilians are part of the process.”

“We need to make sure they’re monitored more than they have,” Arnita said.

Della Curry said, “We want stuff done. We are tired of everything going on. I have kids, I have grandkids. I’m not taking it laying down. Ya’ll said you’re going to get it done. We want to see it getting done.”

Resident Louie Lefrancois said, “I’m here on my own personal behalf to talk to the council. I am in support of these audits.” He spoke of the DA and FBI investigation and said, “I’m hoping this council doesn’t interfere with that process. The process needs to happen. The chief of police, even the city manager, I’m hoping you don’t interject yourselves in these proceedings.”

Lucas Chilcoate said, “I agree that there should be a look into any conflict of interest, whether marital or family that should be looked at with this audit.”

Takia (sp?) Compton, a high school junior, spoke in favor of the audit. “I think more thorough background checks need to be done. How am I supposed to feel safe when the people who are supposed to keep me safe are causing harm?”

Ronald Mohammed spoke next speaking of “Culture, cultural competency and complicit bias. Chief Ford should not be ex-ed out of that. Because of what’s happened with the police union. We may be cutting his legs out from under him. The cultural competency seems to be horrible, here.”

Lynnette Hart spoke next saying, “I worked for the Antioch Police Department. I’m extremely disappointed but in now way am I surprised by the headlines. These officers will be decertified. That means they can never be a cop in California, again. What is needed, here is community panels that are part of the hiring process. Let’s have them do some community service, first. You need to include some implicit bias training. We all have implicit biases but only police officers have the right to take your life.”

A man who said he isn’t an Antioch resident, suggested federal oversight and spoke of a consent decree.

Jennifer Baribe who said she has been a resident for 30 years said, “We want our city back. Ever since you took over, crime is going up. You’re not doing anything. What is going on? We pay taxes. We’ve been in the news ever since you took over. You gotta clean up the city. If you cannot do it have someone else do it. Cops are not doing anything for us. We’re hearing sexual harassment, DUI’s, we should not have that from you.”

“Some people have amnesia,” Thorpe said with a laugh.

Manuel Sidrian said, “You should call DOJ to work with staff. What I really got disgusted with was Martin Luther King Day, half of our mayoral staff did not show up. Half you guys weren’t here. For you to do Martin Luther King Day two weeks later, that was so disrespectful. When we call APD about sideshows they sit there and watch. We need more policing.”

“We did not postpone MLK Day, we cancelled the MLK annual event because…the atmospheric river,” Thorpe responded. “So, I read his I Have a Dream speech.”

There was a standing room only audience at Tuesday’s Antioch City Council meeting. Video screenshot.

Council Comments on Item 2

During council comments on Item 2, Barbanica spoke first saying, “When I look at this item, one of the things that’s concerning me is that we haven’t had evaluations for six years,” to support from the audience.

Thorpe stopped the audience from making comments.

“How do we go six years without police evaluations?” Barbanica continued. “You can be a supporter of law enforcement and should be a supporter of doing.”

“It has been concerning there have been no reviews over the last six or seven years,” Ogorchock said.

“I whole-heartedly numbers one, two and three,” Wilson said. “What I’m seeing is a lack of processes…and practices. We need to get this in place…externally.”

Torres-Walker said, “I think everybody up here supports this, one, two and three. There’s definitely a process and there are practices. They just haven’t been beneficial to the community. New practices and processes are necessary.”

She spoke of “HEAP, Hiring Equipment Accountability and Processes.”

The mayor pro tem spoke about Lt. Mike Mellone and that “Chief Brooks said, ‘an apology is an admission of guilt.’”

“We want to hire can we make sure they don’t have 50-year-old, 100-year-old ideologies they’ve been raised with in their homes?” she continued. “Just turning the police department Black and brown ain’t going to solve your problem.”

Thorpe spoke last saying, “Well, I proposed this so I’m for it. Our mental health crisis response team will be up and running, soon. We will be the first in Contra Costa County to do so. That was the crown jewel of our police reform effort.”

“We can’t mandate police officers or any city employee to live in the city,” he continued, speaking about his proposal for a housing incentive for new police hires which didn’t get support of the council.

“Crime has been lower since I’ve been mayor than from 2013 to 2020,” Thorpe stated. He then took a swipe at “the two blogs in our community”, falsely referring to this news organization in an attempt to denigrate it and claiming the Herald has blamed the council majority for increased crime. (Publisher’s Note: That has never happened. I challenge the mayor to show anywhere in any article or editorial on this website or in the newspaper that claim has ever been written by this reporter or any staff member. An article was published last year that included what Corporal Steve Aiello said about officers leaving the department, what they’ve said during exit interviews, and why other officers don’t want to work for the Antioch Police Department related to the current council majority. Furthermore, the recent Annual Update by Chief Ford presented at last week’s council meeting shows Part I crime was up overall 9.5% from 2021 to 2022. The update also shows rapes had increased by 7.5%, robberies were up 9.9%, burglaries increased by 28.1%, theft was up 7.5% and auto thefts increased 17.8% year over year).

“I have been hearing people talk about the crime data. Me and Chief Ford have talked about this,” Torres-Walker said. “There are at least three neighborhoods in which crime is never down.”

She spoke of the Cavallo neighborhood and said, “When you live in Sycamore crime is always up. Data absent context is dangerous. These people and community members need help, absolutely, not just from the police department. They were feeling it before we had low staffing levels in the police department.”

“In the four years I was on the city council…I don’t think we’ve ever had council members delve into certain neighborhoods,” Thorpe shared, specifically mentioning Barbanica and Torres-Walker.

“Unanimous support of the promotion practices and hiring audit,” he added then called a five-minute recess.
Item 3. EQUITY AUDIT OF THE ANTIOCH POLICE DEPARTMENT Recommended Action: It is recommended that the City Council discuss, receive public comments, and provide direction to staff.

“I brought this forward because I’ve heard this from council members twice before,” Thorpe said, referring to Torres-Walker’s request for a citywide cultural audit. But he suggested starting with the police department, first.

“Cultural auditing is what we’re talking about…to have a thorough understanding of the culture of an organization,” Acting City Manager Ebbs said. “It doesn’t usually pursue personnel. What are the tolerances? Once you understand something if you’re OK with that. What is the heart and soul of an organization?

“When I requested of the entire City’s hiring, practices, policies,” Torres-Walker said. “When you live in place like Antioch…it’s unspoken you don’t hire these kind of people, or promote certain people…or they only leverage to intimidate a certain population. Like Code Enforcement can be used to target a certain population. Starting with the police department is the lowest hanging fruit. Equity is about being fair and impartial. When you’re talking about an equity audit we’re going to have to get a lot more specific.”

“A request for qualifications would be appropriate to get a number of firms that specialize in these kinds of audits,” Thorpe stated. “That’s generally what we’re discussing, here.”

Public Comments on Item 3.

Francisco Torres spoke first saying, “Of course we need it. Yes, definitely for that. I think part of the cultural thing, we need to look at the culture of the police officers’ association. I would, again, ask the council to think about a restructuring. What it looks like, here I’m not so sure. There needs to be a relationship…there’s a lot of power in the police officers’ association. Look where they’re at. Look what they’ve done with their power.”

Harry Thurston spoke next saying, “I wasn’t quite sure what the equity part was. There seems to be an imbalance in the racial makeup of staff in the police department. I am fully in favor of creating and implementing the Antioch Police Oversight Commission to have a say in these things.”

Dr. Kimberly Payton said, “East Contra Costa County NAACP would like to respond to this Antioch Police scandal,” and spoke from prepared remarks. “When we get these reforms, this community can grow…and prosper. But when will that happen…to get rid of the disease plaguing the staff.”

Jose Cordon, “Antioch always been racist. It’s just an unfortunate fact.” He spoke about wanting police officers living in the city saying, “It’s a lot harder to abuse somebody when you see somebody at the gas station or the 7-11.”

Patricia Granados spoke next saying, “I want to look out for the good officers and make sure the audit includes them, as well.”

Devon Williams spoke last saying, “I think that an oversight commission, which I’ve applied for, needs to come back. We do need people in the community oversighting the police officers…and the officers not doing their job be removed from their job by the community who hired them. Before we leave here, tonight…we need to know these officers will be fired. Look at the Camden, New Jersey police department how they stripped it down and built it back up.”

Julia Imego-Quay (sp?) spoke next saying, “A clear smart and efficient equity audit of the police department must take place. The police chief must also be fired because the police chief is not controlling or doing anything about the racist police.” She spoke of “demilitarizing the police force” and defunding police to pay for other programs.

Dominique King said, “When you say you are for the institution of policing, the institution of policing has been inherently biased…we know 45 officers are not outliers. They are the institution.”

Tiki with Reimagine Antioch said, “When I heard equity I thought of race and gender. Rodriguez is a woman so that got to me, too. Why do they feel a certain way? Why do they protect a certain community rather than hire a certain race.”

A woman named Olga said, “The mandate you have before you is to create something new. I hear of these other places and federal oversight. But look at Oakland when they were under federal oversight. I support the audit. Just the racial equity audit in addition to a cultural audit.” She said she “found racism in the hospitals in the NICU” (neonatal intensive care unit).

Council Comments on Item 3

Barbanica spoke first saying, “I absolutely support the institution of policing. What’s the choice? Anarchy out there? I’m saying support good cops. Keeping criminals away from good people.”

He spoke of eight Pittsburg police officers he helped terminate for committing crimes in response to accusations from resident Patricia Granados.

“I do support the strong men and women who continue to work to protect our community,” Barbanica continued. “I hope we don’t lose sight of that. I do support Item 3.”

Ogorchock spoke next saying, “Promotions should be based on work product not on anything else. But on work product. We talked about community hiring. We had a previous police chief discuss that. The chief is being very mindful of the beginning of equity looking at the 30-30…women aren’t filling these spots. Are we asking women to fill these spots? Equity is not just for the police department. I am for this. I don’t feel we should use a broad brush and say all officers are bad. Because they’re not all bad. With the ones who have done things wrong, there is an investigation going on. I will support this item.”

“Yes. I definitely support this item,” Wilson stated. “Yes, definitely this needs to start in our police department but this needs to go citywide. I don’t know if it’s an RFP or RFQ process, but we need the community involved.”

She then said she wanted to ask Chief Ford questions.

“The questions have to be relevant to the subject we’re discussing,” City Attorney Smith interjected.

Wilson asked several questions about the department’s leadership.

“If you want the accurate information some of that may need research,” Ford responded.

This is the equity audit question. These questions are outside the box. These are just not appropriate,” Smith said.

“These are all police topics. They are absolutely relevant,” Thorpe said.

“The item is an equity audit of the police department. Those items are not relevant,” Smith responded.

“Of the command staff?” Thorpe asked. “Mr. City Attorney, hold on one minute. I’m not asking permission.”

“This item…is an equity audit of the police department, whether we should do an’s a directional question,” Smith explained.”

“Are they relevant to your decision to have an equity audit?” Thorpe asked Wilson.

“Yes,” she responded.

She then continued asking Ford questions about the department’s leadership, the APOA’s leadership and Internal Affairs.

Ford answered them and then said, “that’s not new information. I answered them last week.”

“I want an audit of the whole damn city,” Torres-Walker said. “Even when we say we want data, what kind of data do we want? Data on charging? On cite and release?”

“Traffic stops, in custody deaths, citizen complaints?” she continued. “We should do a budget audit and look at the hundreds of millions of dollars in settlements paid out for violating citizens’ rights,” Torres-Walker said. “This idea about a good officer versus a bad officer, a good guy versus a bad guy. We’re not in the wild, wild west. It’s a human being. That’s it. Good, bad, that doesn’t exist. It’s what in your heart. Being human you’re going to make mistakes. The very people who can make mistakes can change your life forever, forever. The fact that these folks knew better, they did. It’s not good or bad it’s just how you treat people when you serve the community.”

“We’re going to sit here, we’re going to serve the community,” the mayor pro tem continued. “But they’re just going to have to ride this out.”

“This idea of criminals. Everybody know how I feel about language,” Torres-Walker said. “When you talk about keeping the community safe from criminals, then we have a problem.” She than compared it to legislators who don’t pass gun control. “They did commit a crime.”

“I didn’t suggest an RFP. I suggested an RFQ,” Thorpe said. “I think we need to know what they can do. We need to narrow it down.”

“I prefer to tell people what I want,” Torres-Walker said.

“You can see..I don’t support any Black woman,” Thorpe responded with a laugh.

Ebbs advised, “Give staff time, and I can work with the city attorney, I’ve got to consult some people who have been down this road before to give you an informed decision.”

“Is everyone good with that?” Thorpe asked to acknowledgement from the other councilmembers. “Those who are elected every two and four years, we are held to account.”

Thorpe again mentioned two Antioch Police officers by name as he did at the end of last week’s council meeting, who are not involved in the text scandal or the FBI and DA investigation and spoke of the protests on “Second Street (in 2020) protesting Michael Mellone. Protesting Steve Aiello. Politicians hid. Mistakes were made. The only person held to account was the Mayor of Antioch and now, he’s in Idaho. The chief kept his job, Michael Mellone kept his job. The mayor did not. I’m going to push back on staff.”

“The reason we lost the Amtrak station to Oakley is because Councilwoman Wilson and I have been voting, but they didn’t give us the information. That’s our constitutional right. When you don’t get the information you need you make stupid decisions or don’t make decisions. So, I’m going to continue to push back on staff. They may not like it but that’s our constitutional right.”

The meeting was then adjourned at 8:20 p.m.

the attachments to this post:

Protest & march begins at APD 041823

Woman getting kicked out ACC041823

Standing room only audience at ACC041823

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