Archive for the ‘City Council’ Category

Investigation of December incident involving Antioch councilwoman, her sons and police shows all her claims were “unfounded” or “not sustained”

Wednesday, September 15th, 2021

Investigators hired in January following demand by Councilwoman Torres-Walker

By Allen Payton

It began as a routine traffic stop of two brothers riding dirt bikes illegally on Antioch streets. But it turned into an online, anger-filled, profanity-laced diatribe by a newly elected, anti-cop councilwoman, that continued with her demand for an outside investigation and her filing of a formal complaint against the officers. That resulted in the hiring of an independent investigator who produced a report showing all of the councilwoman’s complaints about how she and her sons were mistreated were baseless. (See related articles here, here and here)

Over eight months after the incident between Antioch District 1 Councilwoman Tamisha Torres-Walker, her two sons and police officers occurred on Dec. 29, 2020, and over seven months after she demanded the investigation and filed the formal complaint, the Confidential Executive Summary of the investigative report from the independent investigator, Oppenheimer Investigations Group, has finally been released. It was made available Tuesday night by Antioch Police Chief T Brooks and describes each of the councilwoman’s claims as either “unfounded” or “not sustained”.

The investigation included interviews with Torres-Walker, APD Officers Calvin Prieto and Andrea Rodriguez, and five others, who were not named in the executive summary nor shared by Brooks, as it is a personnel matter. The investigation included video footage and documents. Those are part of the criminal report which is not yet available.

The Executive Summary provides details of what occurred during the traffic stop and confrontation of the officers by Torres-Walker, as well as your complaints and the findings by Vida Thomas of Oppenheimer.

See the six-page here Executive Summary of Report Concerning Complaint Filed by Tamisha Walker and below.

Questions for Torres-Walker

Torres-Walker was asked if she had the chance to read the Executive Summary and if she had any response or comments she wanted to share. In addition, the councilwoman was asked if she had seen the complete report, including the video footage and documents referred to on page 2, below the heading 1. Introduction and Scope?

She did not respond as of publication time.

Q&A With Chief Brooks

Asked if the complete Investigative Report has been provided to Councilwoman Torres-Walker, and/or the mayor and other council members, he responded, “No. They received the same document you did. The full investigative report is part of the officers’ personnel file and is confidential.  The executive summary was written specifically to provide publicly available information due to the public interest generated in this case.”

In addition, he was asked if the related video footage and documents were available to the public, what video footage was included in the investigation other than the councilwoman’s online rant and if there was cell phone video of the incident. Brooks responded, “Any/all video gathered regarding this incident is part of the criminal report, which is not yet publicly available.”

The criminal report is about the arrest of Torres-Walker’s older son, Yomani Mapp, for evading police after he didn’t stop, when the police attempted to pull him, over while he was riding a dirt bike. Antioch Police submitted a felony charged against Mapp using Vehicle Code (VC) 2800.4, because he drove in the opposite direction while evading police. He could have faced six months to a year in jail or a fine of $1,000 to $10,000, or both. But Contra Costa DA Diana Becton reduced the charge to a misdemeanor using VC 2800.1(a) for just evading police and, if convicted, Mapp could face up to one year in jail. The filing with the court occurred on March 23, the same day Torres-Walker made a $500 contribution to Becton’s re-election committee, according to the DA’s campaign finance report.

Follow up questions were sent to Brooks asking, “when will the criminal report be publicly available, please? And is it completed?” He responded, “The criminal report has been completed and a complaint was filed by the DA’s office.  However, the case has not yet been adjudicated.”

He was also asked if all the witnesses cooperated with the investigation and who were the other five witnesses. Did they include Torres-Walker’s sons, and residents of the nearby homes or other witnesses at or near the scene? “The executive summary is all the information being provided to the public,” Brooks responded. “The details of full investigation cannot be disclosed.”

Finally, he was asked why did it take over seven months to complete and is that common for outside, independent investigations? “Each investigation is unique and the time to complete them varies for differing reasons,” Brooks stated.

Investigation Cost

The contract for the investigation included payment of $420 per hour for the lead investigator, $180 per hour for an editor/writer and $120 per hour for an intern’s time, as well as other related costs of the investigation.  Brooks didn’t know how much it cost the city saying, “All legal services are paid through the city attorney’s office.” An email was then sent to City Attorney Thomas Lloyd Smith asking how many hours was spent on the investigation and the total amount the city has paid or will pay. He did not respond before publication time.

Please check back later for any updates to this report.

CONFIDENTIAL EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Oppenheimer Investigations Group LLP September 1, 2021

I. INTRODUCTION AND SCOPE

On January 14, 2021, the City of Antioch (“the City”) retained Oppenheimer Investigations Group LLP (“OIG”) to conduct an impartial investigation of Antioch City Councilmember Tamisha Walker’s complaint against Antioch Police Department (“APD”) officers Calvin Prieto and Andrea Rodriguez, who are assigned to APD’s Traffic Unit. Vida Thomas was the principal investigator.

On December 29, 2020, Prieto and Rodriguez, who were on patrol, observed Walker’s two sons, who were 23 years old and 13 years old at the time, riding a motorized, off-road dirt bike and an off-road ATV, respectively. The officers began pursuing the older son. After the pursuit, Prieto and Rodriguez detained the 13-year-old. In a formal complaint filed on January 27, 2021, Walker alleged that Prieto and Rodriguez dangerously pursued her oldest son, tried purposely to hit him with their patrol car, and verbally and physically mistreated the younger son while detaining him.1 (See Exhibit 1.) In an interview with the undersigned, Walker also alleged that both officers spoke discourteously to her younger son before she arrived at the scene, and that Prieto spoke discourteously to her once she arrived.

Once the scope of the investigation was determined and agreed upon, the investigator operated with complete independence as to witness identification, interview content, and preparation of findings. The investigation included interviews with eight witnesses – including Ms. Walker, Officer Prieto and Officer Rodriguez – a review of video footage, and a review of documents.

This is a Confidential Executive Summary of an Investigative Report. It is anticipated that this Report will be maintained confidentially by the decision-makers and will not be disseminated except as required by law or as determined by the decision-makers.

II. FINDINGS

At the request of APD, the investigator used the following findings used in APD administrative investigations, pursuant to Policy 1011.6.3. Thus, the investigator used these findings where applicable:

Unfounded – When the investigation discloses that the alleged acts did not occur or did not involve department members. Complaints that are determined to be frivolous will fall within the classification of unfounded (Penal Code § 832.8).

Exonerated – When the investigation discloses that the alleged act occurred but that the act was ustified, lawful and/or proper.

Not sustained – When the investigation discloses that there is insufficient evidence to sustain the complaint or fully exonerate the member.

Sustained – A final determination by an investigating agency, commission, board, hearing officer, or arbitrator, as applicable, following an investigation and opportunity for an administrative appeal pursuant to Government Code § 3304 and Government Code § 3304.5 that the actions of an officer were found to violate law or department policy (Penal Code § 832.8).

No Finding – The complainant failed to disclose promised information to further the investigation; the investigation revealed another agency was involved, and the complaint or complainant has been referred to that agency; the complainant wishes to withdraw the complaint or the complainant is no longer available for clarification.

A. FINDINGS CONCERNING OFFICER PRIETO

1. Did Officer Prieto engage in racial profiling of Walker’s sons? (Policy 401.3 – Bias- Based profiling Prohibited)

Not sustained. A preponderance of the evidence did not support a finding that Prieto engaged in racial profiling of Walker’s sons.

The evidence showed that, while patrolling along A Street as a normal part of their traffic enforcement duties, Prieto and Rodriguez saw Walker’s sons riding a dirt bike and an ATV on the wrong side of the street towards oncoming traffic, and creating a traffic hazard. The evidence also showed that Prieto and Rodriguez had a legitimate law enforcement reason, unrelated to race, for pursuing Walker’s sons.

2. Did Officer Prieto engage in a racially biased use of force towards either son? (Policy 300.2.2 – Fair and Unbiased Use of Force)

Unfounded. A preponderance of the evidence did not support a finding that Prieto engaged in a racially biased use of force towards Walker’s sons. That evidence did not support a finding that Prieto tried to hit the older son with the patrol vehicle or run him off the road; had his hand on his taser as he exited the patrol car after stopping the younger son; pulled his taser when approaching the younger son; or pushed the younger son to the ground after he stepped off the ATV.

A preponderance of the evidence supported a finding that Prieto did handcuff the younger son, but only after the younger son engaged in behavior that gave the officer reasonable concern that he would be a harm to himself or others or attempt to flee. Therefore, the handcuffing complied with APD policy.

3. Did Officer Prieto engage in an unreasonable use of force towards Walker’s sons? (Policy 300.3 – Use of Force)

Not sustained. A preponderance of the evidence did not support a finding that Prieto tried to hit the older son with the patrol vehicle or run him off the road; had his hands on his taser while exiting the patrol car; pulled his taser when approaching the younger son; or pushed the younger son to the ground after he stepped off the ATV.

A preponderance of the evidence supported a finding that Prieto handcuffed the younger son while he was detained. However, the officer only did so after developing a reasonable concern that the younger son would harm himself or others or flee. Therefore, the handcuffing complied with APD policy.

4. Did Officer Prieto behave in an uncivil, disorderly, or unprofessional manner towards Walker’s younger son? (Policy 300.3.1 – De-Escalation Requirement)

Unfounded. A preponderance of the evidence did not support a finding that Prieto behaved in an uncivil, disorderly, or unprofessional manner towards the younger son.

Walker reported that Prieto made rude comments to her younger son while he was being detained. Prieto denied making the comments, and Rodriguez denied hearing Prieto make the comments. The available video footage of the incident was not very revelatory. Therefore, there was insufficient evidence that Prieto made the comments ascribed to him.

5. Did Officer Prieto behave in an uncivil, disorderly or unprofessional manner towards Tamisha Walker? (Policy 1001.3.1(a) – Conduct Unbecoming-Neglect of Duty; Policy 1001.3.4(a) – Behavior During Public Contact)

Not sustained. A preponderance of the evidence did not support a finding that Officer Prieto behaved towards Tamisha Walker in an uncivil, disorderly or unprofessional manner. The evidence showed that Prieto’s behavior complied with the APD’s interpretation of the applicable APD policy.

6. Did Prieto’s report fail to accurately reflect the December 29, 2020 incident? (Policy 326.1.1 – Report Preparation)

Not sustained. A preponderance of the evidence did not support a finding that Prieto’s report failed to accurately reflect the December 29, 2020 incident.

The Combined Case Report (“Report”) prepared by Prieto and Rodriguez (Exhibit 2), appears to comply with the requirements set forth in APD Policy 326.1.1. The Report accurately reflect the incident that occurred on December 29, 2020. Its description of the incidents is consistent with the evidence gathered during this investigation, including video camera footage. There is no evidence that anything in the Report is false.

B. FINDINGS CONCERNING OFFICER RODRIGUEZ

1. Did Officer Rodriguez engage in racial profiling of Walker’s sons? (Policy 401.3 – Bias-Based profiling Prohibited)

Not sustained. A preponderance of the evidence does not support a finding that Rodriguez engaged in racial profiling of Walker’s sons.

The evidence showed that, while patrolling along A Street as a normal part of their traffic enforcement duties, Prieto and Rodriguez saw Walker’s sons riding a dirt bike and an ATV on the wrong side of the street towards oncoming traffic, and creating a traffic hazard. The evidence also showed that Rodriguez had a legitimate law enforcement reason, unrelated to race, for pursuing Walker’s sons.

2. Did Officer Rodriguez engage in a racially biased use of force towards either son? (Policy 300.2.2 – Fair and Unbiased Use of Force)

Unfounded. A preponderance of the evidence did not support a finding that Rodriguez engaged in a racially biased use of force towards Walker’s sons. That evidence did not support a finding that, while pursuing the sons on A Street, Rodriguez’s patrol car almost struck the older son and tried to run him off the road.

3. Did Officer Rodriguez engage in an unreasonable use of force towards Walker’s sons? (Policy 300.3 – Use of Force)

Unfounded. As set forth in the finding above, a preponderance of the evidence did not support a finding that Rodriguez tried to strike Walker’s sons while pursuing the older son.

Therefore, the allegation that Officer Rodriguez engaged in an unreasonable use of force towards Walker’s sons was unfounded.

4. Did Officer Rodriguez behave in an uncivil, disorderly, or unprofessional manner towards Walker’s younger son? (Policy 1001.3.1(a) – Conduct Unbecoming-Neglect of Duty; Policy 1001.3.4(a) – Behavior During Public Contact)

Not sustained. A preponderance of the evidence did not support a finding that Rodriguez behaved in an uncivil, disorderly, or unprofessional manner towards the younger son.

Walker reported that Rodriguez made rude comments to her younger son while he was being detained. Rodriguez denied making the comments, and Prieto denied hearing Rodriguez make the comments. The available video footage of the incident was not very revelatory. Therefore, there was insufficient evidence that Rodriguez made the comments ascribed to him.

For these reasons, this allegation was not sustained.

5. Did Officer Rodriguez behave in an uncivil, disorderly or unprofessional manner towards Tamisha Walker? (Policy 1001.3.1(a) – Conduct Unbecoming-Neglect of Duty; Policy 1001.3.4(a) – Behavior During Public Contact)

Unfounded. A preponderance of the evidence did not support a finding that Officer Rodriguez behaved in an uncivil, disorderly or unprofessional manner towards Tamisha Walker.

It is undisputed that, throughout her encounter with Walker, Rodriguez behaved in a calm manner, using de-escalation techniques to address Walker’s concerns. However, Walker said that when Rodriguez initially called her from the scene to report that her younger son had been stopped, Rodriguez made a rude and unprofessional comment to her, a claim Rodriguez denied. There was no evidence to corroborate this claim and for this reason, this allegation was unfounded.

6. Did Officer Rodriguez’s report fail to accurately reflect the December 29, 2020 incident? (Policy 326.1.1 – Report Preparation)

Not sustained. A preponderance of the evidence did not support a finding that Rodriguez’s report failed to accurately reflect the December 29, 2020 incident.

The Combined Case Report (“Report”) prepared by Prieto and Rodriguez (Exhibit 2), appeared to comply with the requirements set forth in APD Policy 326.1.1. The Report accurately reflected the incident that occurred on December 29, 2020. Its description of the incidents were consistent with the evidence gathered during this investigation, including video camera footage. There was no evidence that anything in the Report was false.

Respectfully submitted,

Vida Thomas

1 The names of Walker’s sons are withheld from this summary out of respect for their privacy. They are referred to herein as her older son and her younger son. Walker did not consent to her sons being interviewed

Attorney-Client Privileged

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Payton Perspective: Antioch mayor and 3 council members need to hold off on city employee vax and testing mandate

Monday, September 13th, 2021

Photo courtesy of CC Health Services.

Only Barbanica wisely voted against; city doesn’t know the costs, yet; lawsuits over similar mandates filed, more expected; no meet and confer, yet with APOA; any policy must include the 3 CDC proclaimed “effective” therapies with the same FDA Emergency Use Authorization the vaccines have had

By Allen Payton, Publisher

During their meeting Tuesday night, the Antioch City Council will consider approving a “COVID-19 Mandatory Testing and Vaccination Policy” for all city employees, contractors and volunteers. It would require they get one of the COVID-19 vaccines or undergo weekly testing. According to the city staff report for the agenda item, “During the August 24, 2021 City Council meeting, the City Council directed staff to return to Council with a resolution…with costs borne by the City, time to do so would be limited to a certain duration, and the policy would include a start and end date.” (See agenda Item 13)

It was proposed by Mayor Lamar Thorpe during a press conference in August and supported by him, and all council members except District 2 Councilman Mike Barbanica.”

That was in spite of the fact that two of the council members, Districts 1 and 3 Councilwomen Tamisha Torres-Walker and Lori Ogorchock spoke against a mandate, during that meeting, before voting to support it.

Don’t Know Costs, Yet

Also, according to the staff report the city doesn’t even know, yet what the cost of such a mandate will be. It reads, “Costs related to this policy are unknown at this time. Costs may include, but may not be limited to, the cost of weekly testing, the cost of a third part to administer the test, mileage, loss in productivity.”

Wait for Lawsuits Over Other Mandates to Be Settled

Multiple lawsuits are expected to be filed against President Biden’s national mandate he just issued in an executive order, last week. According to the New York Post, “Larry Cosme, president of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, issued a statement Thursday calling the mandate unnecessary, overbearing and counterintuitive.

‘This executive order villainizes employees for reasonable concerns and hesitancies and interest the federal government into individual medical decisions,’ Cosme said. ‘People should not be made to feel uncomfortable for making a reasonable medical choice.’”

There has also been a lawsuit filed “by a slew of unions” against Mayor DeBlasio for his mandate in that city.

Antioch council members should hold off for the results of those lawsuits before opening up our city to legal challenges and costs.

Violates Health Privacy – Were City Employee Groups Consulted?

Questions were sent to city staff, early Monday afternoon asking, “Have city staff met with the various employee groups to meet and confer on the proposed ordinance for mandating COVID-19 vaccines or weekly testing? If so, what were the results of those meet and confer meetings? Do their contracts need to be amended? If so, did all the groups agree to that?”

They were also asked, “isn’t this a violation of privacy of city employees, contractors, and volunteers, specifically with regards to their health and medical care, since they have to reveal to other city staff members if they’ve had a specific medical treatment or not?”

APOA Requests for Meet and Confer Ignored

Corporal Steve Aiello, Vice President of the Antioch Police Officers Association said there’s been no meet and confer, yet for his organization.

“On two occasions the APOA has reached out to the city, to (Administrative Services Director) Nickie Mastay in personnel and requested a meet and confer,” he stated. “But there’s been no response.”

“It’s a work condition change,” Aiello added as the reason a meet and confer is required.

Additional questions were then sent to City Manager Ron Bernal, after Monday work hours with, “Ron, I just spoke with Steve Aiello of the APOA. He said they’ve sent two email messages to Nickie Mastay requesting a meet and confer on the vaccine and testing mandate, but she has not responded. Is that correct? If so, why not? He said it’s required since it’s a change to their work conditions. Is that true? If so, shouldn’t the APOA and all the city’s employee groups have a meet and confer on the mandate before the council takes a vote?” As of 6:30 p.m. he has not responded to either the emailed nor texted questions, nor has City Attorney Thomas Lloyd Smith.

Please check back later for their responses should they provide them.

Painful Weekly Testing Alternative, Punishment for No Vaccine, One Test Ineffective

Nurse’s tweet of COVID test graphic.

While the proposed policy includes an alternative for weekly testing for those employees, contractors and volunteers who choose to not take a vaccine, have any of the council members been tested? Do they know how painful it is having those swabs scrape the back of your nose and throat? If not, all four should undergo that, first to see what they’re planning on subjecting our city employees, contractors and volunteers to that weekly pain, before voting to mandate it as one of the two options.

According to a New York Times report, “If you’ve seen the test (there are plenty of Instagram videos), then you know it looks as if someone is poking your brain: A swab is inserted deep in through your nostrils…The test itself is quick — only a few seconds — but most describe the sensation as highly uncomfortable.”

According to a Newsweek report, “’This test being demonstrated is a nasopharyngeal swab or NP swab collection. It uses a small flocked swab on a flexible plastic shaft to collect a sample from the posterior nasopharynx,’ Wesley Long, a microbiologist from Houston Methodist Hospital, told Newsweek. ‘Nasopharynx’ is a term that refers to the back part of your nose where it joins the throat.”

I watched as my son get a COVID test last year, and he winced when they put those long swabs up his nostrils. Then I had a test recently and now I know why he winced. I did, too. Ouch, two times! So, basically, that part of the mayor and council majority’s mandate would effectively serve as punishment for those employees, contractors and volunteers who won’t take the vaccine.

Plus, one of the COVID-19 tests that has been in use since February 2020 has been determined ineffective and discontinued by the CDC – but not until Dec. 31, 2021 for some unknown reason – because it can’t tell the difference between the virus and the flu. Yet, those test kits are still being used. The CDC has requested that a new test be developed. The council should wait on that, as well.

Dangerous Side Effects of Vaccines, Other Medical Conditions, Religious Exemption

I’m not going to get into all the details of the fact that there are good reasons for people who don’t want the vaccines due to all their dangerous side effects, have other medical conditions that prevent them from taking the vaccine or have a fundamental religious conviction for not wanting the jab.

Vaccines Still in Clinical Trials, Mandate Violates Nuremberg Code

Plus, all three of the vaccines are still undergoing clinical trials one until Nov. 1, another until 2023 and the third until 2024! (See Moderna Dose-Confirmation Study to Evaluate the Safety, Reactogenicity, and Immunogenicity of mRNA-1273 COVID-19 Vaccine in Adults Aged 18 Years and Older here, Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 BNT162b2 Vaccine Effectiveness Study here, and Janssen-Johnson & Johnson Study of (COVID-19) in Adults here)

So, they’re still experimental and therefore such a mandate clearly violates the Nuremberg Code which was established after World War II in response to the Nazis experimenting on the Jews during the Holocaust and others. It prohibits medical experimentation on humans without their consent.

According to the National Institutes of Health website the first lines read, “The Nuremberg Code 1. The voluntary consent of the human subject is absolutely essential.”

CDC – “Effective Therapeutics Are Available”

According to the CDC’s website under the subheading, “SARS-CoV-2 Monoclonal Antibody Therapies” it reads, “In the United States, there are three anti-SARS-CoV-2 monoclonal antibody treatments with FDA Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for the treatment of COVID-19: bamlanivimab plus etesevima, casirivimab plus imdevimab, and sotrovima.” In addition, the CDC website reads, “effective therapeutics are available.”

The only public mention of monoclonal antibody therapies by the government or major media that I’ve read or heard has been about what Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is doing in his state to offer it to his state’s residents at multiple locations. Yet, the CDC’s website offers treatment recommendations and guidelines for administering the alternative therapies.

According to a report by CBS4 Miami, “Monoclonal antibody treatments can be prescribed by health care providers to individuals 12 years of age and older who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or who have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 and are at high risk for severe illness and hospitalization.”

Council Should Wait

For these reasons and more, the council should wait to approve the testing and vaccine mandate policy. In the meantime, just follow the current CDC guidelines and if a city employee, contractor or volunteer is experiencing COVID symptoms, the must stay home and self-quarantine for 10 days.

However, if the council insists on moving forward with their mandate, they must include the three effective therapies in their policy, so employees who don’t want the vaccine will have an alternative to painful, weekly testing. Otherwise, they’re acting like they’re medical experts, and worse, Nazis, not following the science, the CDC or FDA, nor abiding by the Nuremberg Code and giving OUR city employees – because they work for and are paid by we the people – all the options available to them.

Proposed Policy

Following is the language for the proposed policy resolution:

RESOLUTION NO. 2021/**

RESOLUTION OF THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF ANTIOCH ADOPTING A COVID-19 TESTING AND VACCINATION POLICY

WHEREAS, the City has an interest in protecting the health, safety, and welfare of City personnel, community members with whom City personnel interact, and all residents and visitors of the City;

WHEREAS, many City employees come in close contact with members of our community as part of their daily job duties and this often includes members of our community who are unable to receive the COVID-19 vaccine at this time, such as children under the age of twelve, or those with medical conditions contraindicated for the vaccine;

WHEREAS, all City of Antioch employees are designated to be Disaster Service Workers under California Government Code sections 3100-3109 and are required to return to work during an emergency;

WHEREAS, all City employees shall either be vaccinated for COVID-19 or be subject to weekly COVID-9 testing requirements; and

WHEREAS, this policy is an effective way to ensure that City personnel do not pose harm to the public or other employees.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the City Council of the City of Antioch as follows:

Section 1. The COVID-19 Testing and Vaccination Policy shall address: vaccinations; weekly testing for City employees and contracted personnel at the City’s expense for a specified duration that commences on October 1, 2021.

Section 2. Policy implementation shall be administratively executed by the City Manager and incorporatee any applicable Federal, State and local policy directives on an ongoing basis.

 

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Antioch Council to consider ban on police restraints, requiring city employees to be vaccinated or undergo weekly testing

Tuesday, August 24th, 2021

By Allen Payton

Photo: FDA

In spite of the recent County Coroner’s Inquest Jury finding that the death of Angelo Quinto in December was not the result of a knee-to-neck restraint by Antioch Police Officers, the Antioch City Council will discuss adopting a resolution on banning the use of police officer restraints, Tuesday night. (See related article)

According to the staff report, “It is recommended that the City Council adopt the resolution directing the City Manager and the City Attorney to work with the Chair of the Police Oversight Standing Committee (of the entire city council) and the Antioch Police Department to develop a policy that protects members of the public involved in law enforcement incidents by identifying and prohibiting the use of Police Officer restraints, holds, tactics and maneuvers that pose a substantial risk of positional asphyxiation, potentially resulting in unconsciousness or death.” The item is #6 on the agenda.

In addition, at the request of Mayor Lamar Thorpe, who held a press conference about the matter, last week, the council will consider requiring all city employees get vaccinated for COVID or be required to be tested each week.

The council begins at 7:00 p.m. following closed session discussions beginning at 4:00 p.m, including a legal matter with the Quinto family and an employee performance evaluation of City Manager Ron Bernal.

Members of the public seeking to observe the meeting may do so at https://www.antiochca.gov/live_stream, on Comcast Channel 24, or AT&T U-Verse Channel 99.

Public Comments

Members of the public wishing to provide public comment may do so one of the following ways (#2 pertains to the Zoom Webinar):

  1. Fill out an online speaker card by 3:00 p.m. the day of the Council Meeting located at:
  1. Provide oral public comments during the meeting by clicking the following link to register in advance to access the meeting via Zoom Webinar: https://www.antiochca.gov/speakers

– You will be asked to enter an email address and a name. Your email address will not be disclosed to the public. After registering, you will receive an email with instructions on how to connect to the meeting.

– When the Mayor announces public comments, click the “raise hand” feature in Zoom. For instructions on using the “raise hand” feature in Zoom, visit:

https://www.antiochca.gov/raise_hand. When calling into the meeting using the Zoom Webinar telephone number, press *9 on your telephone keypad to “raise your hand”. Please ensure your Zoom client is updated so staff can enable your microphone when it is your turn to speak.

  1. Email comments to cityclerk@ci.antioch.ca.us by 3:00 p.m. the day of the Council Meeting. The comment will be read into the record at the meeting (350 words maximum, up to 3 minutes, at the discretion of the Mayor). IMPORTANT: Identify the agenda item in the subject line of your email if the comment is for Announcement of Community Events, Public Comment, or a specific Agenda Item number. No one may speak more than once on an agenda item or during “Public Comments”.

All emails received by 3:00 p.m. the day of the Council Meeting will be entered into the record

for the meeting.

Speakers will be notified shortly before they are called to speak.

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After weeks of waiting, wrangling with city staff, emails between Torres-Walker and Chief Brooks on rideout released

Wednesday, July 21st, 2021

Instagram post by Antioch District 1 Councilwoman Tamisha Torres-Walker’s adult son, Yomani, promoting the rideout planned for Sunday, June 20th in Antioch and offering to provide the location for those who would direct message him. (Edited due to profanity) (Herald file screenshot)

Show her resistance to helping stop son from promoting illegal dirt bike ride on city streets; same son who fled police during incident in December

By Allen Payton

Following a Public Records Act request on June 16 for the email communication between Antioch District 1 Councilwoman Tamisha Torres-Walker and Antioch Police Chief T Brooks regarding the planned rideout that one of her sons was promoting and possibly organizing on social media, City Attorney Thomas Lloyd Smith finally released them last Wednesday evening, July 14. _Emails to & from TBrooks & TTorres-Walker

Smith at first claimed attorney client privilege and provided several state codes to support it. However, the Herald researched and cited those codes in a response email, pointing out to him that nothing in the codes mentions any other city staff member but refers only to an attorney. The Herald asked Smith if he was included in the emails between Brooks and Torres-Walker and any other council member regarding the rideout. He did not respond. A further email was sent to Brooks and City Manager Ron Bernal asking the same question. Rather than responding, Smith released the emails to the Herald, later that day.

Torres-Walker Less Than Fully Cooperative Frustrating Brooks

The emails show resistance from Torres-Walker to Brooks’ request that she talk to her adult son, Yomani, to get him to stop organizing and promoting the event planned for Sunday, June 20, m on his Instagram account under the name “its_kyd”. At first she agreed to talk to him about it, But later Torres-Walker claimed he was not organizing the event nor knew who was, didn’t know where it would be held and that she didn’t think she talking to him would help.

Yomani is her same son who fled police during a pursuit of him and his younger brother who were riding off-road vehicles on A Street on December 29, 2020. That incident resulted in a 9-minute online video post by the councilwoman and has been under investigation by an outside firm hired by the police department at her request. The investigators report has yet to be released. (See related article)

Brooks first email to her on June 14 with the subject line “Need Your Help Please” reads in part:

“Good afternoon Councilmember Torres-Walker,

Several people have contacted me in regards to an illegal event planned to take place in Antioch this Sunday. Please see the attached screenshot advertising the event, which I’m being told is from your son Yomani’s Instagram account. These types of events are not only dangerous but illegal as well.

Some who are aware of this event (and your son’s alleged involvement) have mentioned wanting to notify local media outlets. I have asked that this not happen, but instead, allow me to stop the event from even occurring. My primary goal is to prevent this dangerous activity from taking place in our city. But I also hope to avoid any type of negative attention this would garner from the public (on you as an elected official, and us as a city) as well.

I am asking for your help to get this event canceled. Prevention is my first and ultimate goal. However, if you are unable to help, we will assemble a special enforcement detail using officers on overtime and seeking mutual aid help from neighboring agencies to address the public safety concern this event will create. We will take a zero-tolerance approach to any/all violations, resulting in arrests and towed vehicles for those participating. I would like to avoid this if at all possible.

Please let me know if you can help. I greatly appreciate it.”

He also shared screenshots of posts by Yomani on his Instagram page, previously shared by the Herald.

Torres-Walker responded in an email to Brooks that evening, and copied Bernal, Mayor Lamar Thorpe and Public Information Officer Rolando Bonilla, with the following:

“Hello Chief Brooks,

Thank you for the email. I was not aware of this event and my son has never organized such an event. It looks like he may have shared an event that was organized by someone else on his personal social media page which is not illegal.

I have no power to stop this but I will talk to my son about not attending because I want him to be safe and I understand that once the police engage in these kinds of events people will and have been gravely injured and/or arrested.

Please let me know if there is anything else I can do to help.”

Brooks responded that same evening with another email to Torres-Walker:

“Thank you for your response.

I agree with you that these events are extremely dangerous. Injuries can be sustained by participants, spectators, innocent members of the public who are completely unattached to the event itself, and even officers who are assaulted by those who violently resist and/or use their vehicles as weapons against them.

I did not say your son was organizing the event – I said he was advertising it. I hoped that he or they could speak to the organizers and ask them not to bring this event to our community. It is not welcomed here.

Since you do not have the power to stop it, but would still like to help, I’ll ask that you please find out from your son where this event is scheduled to take place and provide me this information? His post says he knows where this is going to occur, and having this information ahead of time would greatly benefit us to secure the area and hopefully deter potential participants from stopping in the first place. Preventing the group from congregating/organizing would greatly reduce any likelihood of confrontation, making it safer for all.

Thank you in advance for helping us work to prevent this dangerous event from occurring in our city.”

Torres-Walker responded, once again, about a half-hour later, attempting to turn it around on police, with a brief reference to the incident in December, and those who had informed Brooks about her son’s social media posts for the June 20th planned rideout. She wrote:

“Hello Chief Brooks,

I get it and my son knows what it’s like to have someone use their vehicle as a weapon to harm him.

It seems like the location is never shared ahead of the day of the event so even if I wanted to help with that request I couldn’t.

Maybe the informants that are reporting activity on my son’s social media page can use their investigative skills to find out who is organizing the event and request the location.

I will talk to my son but since he is not organizing the event and has no idea who is I’m not sure that will help either.

Have a good evening,”

Torres-Walker’s son’s IG posts regarding the expected police response to the planned rideout. The one on the right was posted after Wednesday morning’s press conference by the mayor and police chief and after she apparently had spoken with him. (Herald file screenshots)

The following morning, Tuesday, June 15, Brooks sent an email to Bernal, Thorpe and Bonilla showing additional posts on social media by Yomani on his Instagram account with the words “Stop Snitching” and other posts warning those who might participate in the rideout to “Keep yo head ona swivel” to look out for police during the rideout.

A frustrated Brooks wrote in that email:

“All,

I have no intention on responding to Councilmember Torres-Walker’s below email. It is unfortunate that she is taking this stance and refusing to help prevent a dangerous event such as this from occurring in our city. Although she claims her son is not involved, it is clear from the original screenshot I included to start this conversation that is not true. To further evidence this, please see the below screenshots that her son posted last night. Obviously Councilmember Torres-Walker informed him of my request. But instead of helping prevent the dangerous event and negative publicity it will bring us as a city, it has appeared to embolden him and he has doubled down on his messaging to continue on with the event as planned. Not only will this cost the city taxpayers’ money in unnecessary police overtime, it is endangering the lives of those illegally riding on our streets, the innocent motorists on our roadways, and the officers tasked with trying to enforce the laws being willfully disregarded. This type of behavior is not good for our community.

T”

The following day, Wed., June 16, Thorpe and Brooks held a press conference about the rideout, asking people not to participate and warning them of a multi-agency effort, fines and $3,000 impound fees, should they be caught. During that press conference, Thorpe was asked if he had spoken to her to tell her son not to promote or participate in them. Thorpe responded, “this is about cancelling the event and let the public know we are going to hold people accountable. I’m not playing games.” (See related article)

The warnings appear to have worked, as the planned rideout did not occur that Sunday.

Challenge Obtaining Emails

By state law, government officials have 10 business days to release records requested by either the media or public. However, agencies can postpone the release by up to an additional 14 calendar days under certain circumstances. It took four weeks for Attorney Smith to release the requested emails.

On June 30th Lynn Dansie, the Police Records Supervisor, sent a letter to the Herald which read, “At the request of the City Attorney we have been asked to extend our response time…for up to 14 additional calendar days, in order to search for and collect records from a separate office/unit holding the information requested. You will be notified with a response to your request on our before, July 12, 2021.” (See              )

Asked what separate office/unit was holding the information and are all communications between city staff and council members done through their official city email accounts, neither Dansie nor Smith responded.

Then on July 1, the Herald made an additional request of all emails between Attorney Smith and council members about the rideout.

On July 8, Dansie emailed another letter that read, “Per the City Attorney, records requested are not releasable at this time. The records requests are being denied under GC (government code) 6254(k) as well as the attorney client privilege under EC 954 and attorney work product privilege under Cal. Code Civ. Pro. 2018.030(a).”

Asked if the letter applied to all emails, Dansie responsed, “The codes of GC 6254(k), EC 954 and Cal Code Civ Pro 2018.030(a) are applicable to both of the records requests involving emails.”

This reporter responded on July 13 with the following, which included citing the language from the sections of those government codes:

“Thomas,

Were you included in the emails between Chief Brooks and Councilwoman Torres-Walker or any other member of the APD staff and any council member regarding the planned rideout on June 20, 2021?

Because I researched the codes provided in Lynn’s email sent yesterday, and if not, then those codes do not apply as they mention nothing about any other person, only an attorney, and you therefore must release the emails to me…post haste. Otherwise please cite the portion of those codes that do apply.

I understand you trying to protect your clients, the council members, from any possible embarrassment over what they wrote in their communication with the chief and/or any other member of the APD or city staff. But that’s not protected under the PRA according to the codes you have provided. So, let’s stop wasting all of this city staff time…and let’s allow the public to know what’s happening with their government and communicated by their elected representatives.”

Smith responded via email the next day, providing the requested emails and included an explanation of why the emails between him and city council members could not be released.

“Dear Mr. Payton,

On June 16, 2021, the City of Antioch received a California Public Records Act (“CPRA”) requesting “copies of any emails/communications between yourself (Chief Brooks)/police department/Mayor Lamar Thorpe and Tamisha Torres-Walker regarding sideshows or rideout”. After further discussion, the City and was agreed that the scope of the request was to be limited to the time period of June 8, 2021 through June 22, 2021.

This letter is in response to your emails dated July 13, 2021 and July 14, 2021.  Attached please find a 10-page document responsive to the CPRA requests that the City has determined is disclosable. Please be advised that other identifiable records are exempt from disclosure because they either involve confidential communications that include the City Attorney and/or they involve confidential communications done at the direction of the City Attorney to accomplish the purpose for which the City Attorney was consulted and are exempt from disclosure.

Thomas Lloyd Smith

City Attorney”

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Barbanica calls for increasing police force by 2.5% per year, adding six officers over next two years, 55 more total

Sunday, July 18th, 2021

Antioch District 2 Councilman Mike Barbanica calls for more cops in a video he posted on his YouTube channel and official Facebook page on Saturday, July 17, 2021. Screenshot.

Until city reaches state standard of 1.48 sworn officers per 1,000 population, which equals 170; second council member to request more police last week

By Allen Payton

Another Antioch council member is calling for more sworn officers on the city’s police force. District 2 Councilman Mike Barbanica is calling for increasing the Antioch police force by 2.5% per year until the department reaches the state standard of 1.48 sworn officers per 1,000 population. That would add about three officers per year over the next two years above the 115 currently allocated in the budget, and give the city 170 total sworn officers.

Currently the city has about 1.0 sworn officers per 1,000 population and the goal since the mid-1990’s has been to achieve 1.2 sworn officers per 1,000.

He joins District 1 Councilwoman Tamisha Torres-Walker, who posted a Facebook video on Saturday morning, calling for the addition of four more officers and have them focus on the Sycamore area. That was in response to her spending time in that part of her district, which has long been the area of the city with the highest level of crime for decades, and hearing complaints from business owners and residents. (See related article)

That’s in spite of the fact that both council members voted along with Mayor Lamar Thorpe and Mayor Pro Tem Monica Wilson for the new two-year budget on June 22 which does not include any additional officers.

On Saturday at 5:20 p.m., Barbanica posted a video and comments about the proposal on both his YouTube Channel and his official Facebook page, but wrote that he made the video last weekend and informed Thorpe about his idea on Tuesday.

“After the meeting Tuesday night, I called the mayor and told him that I’m formally requesting that this be placed on the agenda,” Barbanica told the Herald. “And I followed up with a formal email.”

He said he was pleasantly surprised to see Torres-Walker’s request she announced earlier on Saturday.

Following is Barbanica’s Facebook post:

“Antioch First! Public Safety

I made this video last weekend and I know some of you are curious, yes, it was before Tuesday night’s standing committee meeting. But, that changes nothing…I am still going to push to get the body cams, car cams, taser technology upgrade and I am introducing a plan for getting staffing where it needs to be. Following the meeting Tuesday night, I called the mayor and told him about the video and that I would be coming out with it. On Wednesday night I emailed the mayor with a formal request to bring this addition of officers to council as an agenda item. Is this a big ask?…yes. Would this take years…yes. However, there would likely be adjustments along the way. Is our community worth it…YES!

So far, here are the results of some of the votes:

Body/Car cams 5-0 (5 yes)

Taser Technology Upgrade 2-3 (2 yes 3 no)

Double the size of Code Enforcement 4-1 (4 yes 1 no)

Recommend implementation of body/car cam policy 2-3 (2 yes 3 no), and that was a standing committee vote, which will come back to us, so it is not a dead issue.

I have proposed that the city council adopt a resolution that would assure the public that PD officer staffing levels will increase each year by a minimum of 2.5% until we reach our goal that I talk about in this video. I have made the request to have this placed on the agenda.

We are re-visiting the budget in November and I think this would be a great time for this to come to the council.”

Following his vote for the budget, when asked why he didn’t include a request for additional police then, Barbanica said “the chief didn’t submit a request for any additional funds. But we can revisit it during the mid-year budget review.

An effort to reach Thorpe asking if he had any comments on Barbanica’s email from earlier in the week and if he will place the matter of additional police requested by the two council members on the next meeting agenda was unsuccessful prior to publication time. Please check back later for any updates to this report.

 

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Antioch Councilwoman Torres-Walker calls for hiring 4 more police officers for Sycamore corridor

Saturday, July 17th, 2021

City’s highest crime area; would reverse recent two-year budget vote that includes no additional officers; also calls for removal of officer from community detail

“You have individuals threatening to take the law into their own hands if we, as a city, don’t do something, because they’re at the end of their ropes.”

“This is, like, a super tough decision.”

“they know more police isn’t the answer. But we gotta think about the short-term solutions while we dive into the long-term solutions. Our people need relief, right now.”

“this is what the community is asking for, proactive policing in their community and I, as a leader, have to support that.” – Councilwoman Torres-Walker

Screenshot of Antioch District 1 Councilwoman Tamisha Torres-Walker’s video posted on her official Facebook page on Saturday, July 17, 2021. It has since been removed.

By Allen Payton

In a major reversal from her votes and previous statements, Antioch District 1 Councilwoman Tamisha Torres-Walker made a surprise announcement on Saturday, July 17, 2021 that she’s asking the mayor to place on the next council meeting agenda the hiring of four additional police officers and to focus them on the Sycamore corridor, which has long been the neighborhood with the greatest crime problems in the city. (See Part 1 and Part 2 of video)

In a 17-minute live video posted on her official Facebook page, entitled “Leadership is not easy”, (which has since been removed) Torres-Walker said she had been meeting with business owners in the small shopping center at the corner of Sycamore Drive and L Street, and that they’re struggling to stay open “because of the activity in the area.” She also said that the Quikstop “is pulling out” and that the corporation has given the local franchisee the opportunity to buy them out and become an independent.

She said she’s sent emails to the mayor, police chief, city manager and city attorney “to see what can we do to really look closely at the Sycamore corridor.”

“For a very long time, this particular community has been overlooked,” Torres-Walker said.

“I absolutely believe in police accountability, transparency and reform and on the other hand I also believe in healthy communities and keeping communities safe, and something is just not adding up in that particular community,” she stated. “This is where the hard decisions need to be made and I think that the city council, myself included, needs to have a real conversation about what do we do on the Sycamore corridor…to make that community safe.”

“Some of the biggest challenges are trying to figure this all out and in all reality…there’s no way to get around the fact that we need more patrol in that area,” Torres-Walker shared. “I have no agenda, here. I just want to help people. And right now, people are saying we need help. We don’t want to keep paying these high rents and we can’t even come outside of our house. Our kids can’t even play outside. We can’t go to the store.”

Just last month, she and the council majority, with only District 3 Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock voting no, approved a two-year budget that shows increases in the General Fund of over $13 million, and included the creation of 17 new positions, but no additional police officers. In addition, Torres-Walker, along with Mayor Lamar Thorpe and Mayor Pro Tem Monica Wilson, has twice voted down approving new, high-tech tasers for the department. (See related article here)

In her video, Torres-Walker, wearing a shirt with the words “NOT TODAY SATAN” across the front, struggled to share her recognition of the need for more police. She also repeated a previous claim that “police don’t prevent crime. They show up after a crime or harm was already committed.”

Yet, she spoke of bringing back the program initiated by the city council in the late 1990’s of community policing in the Sycamore corridor, in which officers walked the beat and had regular interaction with residents. As a result, from 1995 to 1998 serious crime in that part of Antioch was reduced by 80%.

“I feel so bad for this community and I think we really need to look at increasing APD by four additional officers,” Torres-Walker continued. “The reason why I’m saying this because there used to be a focus in this community and it was called proactive policing and that went away a long time ago.”

“But if we’re really going to commit to this community, we have to do what’s best for Antioch, and what’s best for Antioch residents,” Torres-Walker stated. “And I cannot ignore the voices of business owners, homeowners and community members who want their community to be safe on Sycamore.”

“And we need to do pro-active policing in the City of Antioch,” she continued. “And so, right now, today, I am asking the Mayor of Antioch to bring to the agenda, a discussion on increasing the Antioch Police Department by four additional officers, so we can do some…proactive community policing in the Sycamore corridor, and get business owners, residents and homeowners, some relief and the opportunity to live safe in their community.”

“It’s not that easy,” Torres-Walker said with a laugh. “It’s not that easy, folks. Like, the reality is, is I believe in transparency, I believe in accountability, I believe in quality policing services. And until we can get to a point in society where we, you know, no longer need these systems, right now, we have people in the Sycamore corridor…who are saying, ‘we don’t know what to do. We need some help.’”

“This is, like, a super tough decision,” she stated. “I spent some time talking to some officers from APD, today when I was out in the Sycamore community, and I just, I can’t imagine, I don’t even live there, and I can’t imagine what this community is going through on a daily. And just by talking to business owners, we have to do something.”

“You have individuals threatening to take the law into their own hands if we, as a city, don’t do something, because they’re at the end of their ropes,” Torres-Walker shared.

“Leadership is complicated, folks,” she added. “But, right now, I’m saying, I’m willing to support four additional positions to the police department to do proactive policing in the Sycamore corridor. I hope that my colleagues on the city council hears this plea. I hope that folks in the community understand.”

“I hope people still believe in me and people still trust me,” Torres-Walker implored. “But the reality is, is that…poor communities, communities of color, Black communities are complex. And we can’t let personal agendas get in the way and I learned that, today,”

“I actually have been spending a lot of time in the Sycamore community over the last two days and I learned, agendas aside, this community needs help,” she continued. “And they’re asking for help, they’re crying out for help, and they want support. And they know more police isn’t the answer. But we gotta think about the short-term solutions while we dive into the long-term solutions. Our people need relief, right now.”

“So, there it is folks. Here, right now, before you all and the world, saying that we need to help residents. Residents need relief, right now,” Torres-Walker said. “And no, I don’t believe that policing is the, you know, the sum of what public safety is about. But right now, this is what the community is asking for, proactive policing in their community and I, as a leader, have to support that.”

“So, again, if you want to reach out to me you can call me at (925) 206-2340 or you can email me at twalker@antiochca.gov,” she shared. “I hope this message reaches the community, the Sycamore community. My heart is with you. My thoughts are with you. To the business owners, we want you to be profitable, we want you to be there to provide a service for the community, as well as take care of you and your community.”

Apologizes to Sycamore community

“And even though I just got here, I want to extend an apologize to everyone in that community for the decades of mistreatment, lack of resources, and just no attention,” Torres-Walker concluded. “Thank you everyone for hearing me out, today. I will be emailing the chief on Monday, as well as the mayor to get this on the council agenda, as soon as possible.”

Supports Removing Officer from Community Detail

She then spoke about a petition to have Officer “Tom Linderman removed from the community policing detail over the homeless, you know our unhoused folks in the community,” and offered her support.

“I think that’s also something we need to consider as a city,” Torres-Walker said. “Maybe some things people aren’t meant to be doing. This petition is not asking for him to be fired. This petition is asking for him to be moved to a new division. At this point, right now, from what I hear from unhoused folks and community members who serve the unhoused folks, is probably the best deal.”

“The reality is, is some people just aren’t good at community engagement,” she continued. “And that’s fine. Because we can use their talents in other places.”

“I will also be raising this up at the next council meeting on the 27th of this month and to the police chief when he gets back from vacation on Monday,” Torres-Walker concluded.

“I’m willing to hear you all out. Let me know,” she said, reiterating her support for four more officers. “If you think this is a step in the wrong direction, let me know. But people are asking for this and I got to do my best.”

Video Removed

As of 2:45 p.m. on Saturday, the video had been removed from here council Facebook page. An attempt to reach Torres-Walker asking her why was unsuccessful prior to publication. An effort to reach Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe asking if he was aware of her proposal and if he will place it on the next council meeting agenda was also unsuccessful.

Please check back later for any updates to this report.

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Antioch Council majority votes down proposed police body and dash cam policies delaying implementation for another month or more

Thursday, July 15th, 2021

The type of AXON police body and car cameras purchased by the Antioch Police Department. Photos: AXON

Even though APD already has the body-cams and training was to begin next week

“a new era of transparency, accountability and safety to our community, as well as our officers” will have to wait.

Committee Chair Torres-Walker appointed to work with Chief Brooks, city attorney and city manager to revise policies

I was disappointed in the vote that the cameras are not on the street immediately. We will continue to push to get them out soon.” – District 2 Councilman and Committee Member Mike Barbanica

By Allen Payton

The Antioch City Council met as the Police Oversight Standing Committee of the whole council Tuesday night, and voted 2-3 on approving proposed policies for use and operation of the police department’s new body and car dash cameras. According to Chief T Brooks, the equipment has been received and training of officers was to begin next week. Instead, that training and implementation of the camera use has now been postponed for at least a month or two, due to the need to revise the draft policies and then meet and confer with the Antioch Police Officers Association (APOA), after the council sent the policies back for corrections.

District 3 Councilwoman and committee vice chair Lori Ogorchock made the motion to approve the Antioch Police Department Body-Worn Camera and Mobile Video Audio Recorder policies and District 2 Councilman Mike Barbanica seconded the motion. But it failed when Mayor Lamar Thorpe, Mayor Pro Tem Monica Wilson and District 1 Councilwoman and committee chair Tamisha-Torres-Walker voted against it.

During the standing committee’s first meeting in May the only actions taken were to vote in Torres-Walker as chair of the committee and Ogorchock as vice chair on separate votes. Ogorchock was the only council member to vote against Torres-Walker as chair, and Torres-Walker was the only vote against Ogorchock as vice chair.

Neither the Herald, other local media nor most of the public were aware of this past Tuesday’s meeting, because there was no email announcing the standing committee meeting, as is usually done for council meetings. Plus, at their last regular meeting in June council members and the public were informed there would be no meetings in July. Instead, Tuesday night’s meeting agenda was merely posted on the city’s website. Furthermore, the meeting being shown on Comcast Cable Channel 24 at the same time was a repeat of a former council meeting.

However, some members of the public were aware of the meeting and offered public comment on the matter.

Cameras Approved Earlier This Year

The policies were developed in response to the unanimous votes by the city council on February 26 and on March 9 to support purchasing the body-worn and police car dash cameras for use by the department for the first time in its history. The action was part of the police reform measures the mayor and council members approved earlier this year. At the time there was a sense of urgency for implementing their use due to two incidents in which Antioch residents died following interactions with police last December and this February. (See related articles, here and here)

But the council majority refused to adopt the proposed policies, now and make corrections to them, later sending them back to the APD for revision before returning to the next meeting of the standing committee. That and all future meetings of the council committee of the whole are now scheduled to be held immediately prior to the second council meetings of the month, which are held on the fourth Tuesdays. So, the next time the council members will deal with the matter will be on July 27th. They can then vote to make a recommendation on the revised proposed policy to themselves as the city council, and the soonest the council can adopt the policy, unless a special meeting is called or the council votes to place the matter as an urgency item on the July 27th agenda, is during their first regular meeting in August.

Proposed Policies

After multiple police department staff members worked on the proposed policies during numerous meetings, gathering input from other agencies and organizations, including consulting the ACLU policies, and obtaining support for them following a meet and confer with the APOA, Chief Brooks presented them to the standing committee. (See presentation, here)

“Officers have already been assigned their individual cameras,” Brooks said. “Axon…is scheduled to conduct in-house departmental training…beginning next week. Upon completion of that training and approval of the body-worn camera policy we are prepared to immediately deploy our officers into the field equipped with this technology, bringing a new era of transparency, accountability and safety to our community, as well as our officers.”

However, the dash cams aren’t expected to arrive until next month, he shared.

According to Brooks’ written staff report for the agenda item, “During the Regular Council Meeting on March 9, 2021, the Antioch City Council approved the purchase of Axon BWC (Body-Worn Cameras) and MVAR (Mobile Video/Audio Recorder – aka police car dash cam) technology for use by the Antioch Police Department. In a subsequent Council Meeting on April 13, 2021, the City Council established the Police Reform Standing Committee (later renamed the Police Oversight Standing Committee). The standing committee’s responsibilities span several areas which include reviewing Antioch Police Department (APD) policies, providing community updates, and soliciting community input on APD policies.

As part of the implementation process for the new BWC and MVAR technologies, the Police Department established a BWC/MVAR Policy [and Implementation] Committee of Sworn Officers and Supervisors along with Records and Dispatch staff. This group met on a regular basis over a period several months and spent hundreds of staff hours researching existing BWC and MVAR policies from across the state. In addition, this committee examined federal and state laws which guide the use of this technology along with reports on industry best practices.

The Police Department contracts with a company called Lexipol which designs (web based) policy manuals and training for law enforcement agencies all over the United States. Lexipol further provides a full library of customizable, state-specific law enforcement policies that are updated in response to new state and federal laws and court decisions. The (attached) BWC and MVAR policies were drafted in Lexipol and are consistent with federal and state guidance as well as industry best practices.”

Public Comments

About 30 members of the public spoke on the item. (See 19:30 through 36:30 mark of meeting video)

Council Concerns

One of the sticking points with some of the council members was on policy “423.5.1 WHEN TO ACTIVATE – During their shift, officers shall make every reasonable effort to activate the BWC prior to initiating investigations and enforcement activity, whether self-initiated or in response to a dispatched call.

Officers shall make every reasonable effort to record non-enforcement contacts should they become confrontational, assaultive or enforcement oriented. In addition to the required conditions, personnel may activate the system any time they feel its use would be appropriate and/or valuable to document an incident.

Also, officers shall not be required to activate or deactivate their BWC based solely on the requests or demands of a citizen, but rather rely on their training and this policy to direct their use of the BWC.

While there may be circumstances in which the BWC cannot be activated immediately, the goal is to capture interactions with the public while providing police services. In the event an officer decides not to turn on their BWC based on the belief that their safety or the safety of the public is in jeopardy, the onus of providing evidence of such fact is the employee’s responsibility. Any failure to activate the BWC in a circumstance in which the objective facts dictate otherwise, may be cause for discipline”

Another issue policy “423.8 STORAGE AND RETENTION OF RECORDINGS – All BWC recordings will be stored via cloud storage, currently Evidence.com. The cloud storage service shall comply with Criminal Justice Information Systems (CJIS) requirements for law enforcement digital evidence storage. Recordings of the following should be retained for a minimum of two years (Penal Code§ 832.18):

(a) Incidents involving use of force by an officer.

(b) Officer-involved shootings or any other Law Enforcement Involved Fatal Incident (LEIFI)

(c) Incidents that lead to the detention or arrest of an individual

(d) Recordings relevant to a formal or informal complaint against an officer or the Antioch Police Department Recordings containing evidence that may be relevant to a criminal prosecution should be retained for any additional period required by law for other evidence relevant to a criminal prosecution (Penal Code § 832.18).

BWC recordings relating to incidents where criminal charges are filed shall be retained for at least one year after whichever of these events occurs last:

(a) the matter is resolved; or,

(b) the defendant has been released from custody; or,

(c) the appeal is final.

(d) The BWC recording may be destroyed earlier than this if the district attorney or other prosecuting agency, all defendants and the City Attorney are notified and given time to object prior to any destruction of a BWC recording related to a criminal incident.

All other recordings should be retained for a period consistent with the requirements of the organization’s records retention schedule but, in no event, for a period less than 180 days. Records or logs of access and deletion of recordings should be retained permanently (Penal Code § 832.18).

Council Discussion

“The reality of this is, the public has asked us to create transparency and I believe by having essentially, every enforcement stop video and audio taped, as well as every time the overhead lights go on, they automatically turn on, and every time an officer gets out of the car, they automatically activate their body camera,” Barbanica said. “I think it’s pretty straight forward.”

“Also…if a police officer draws his or her firearm it automatically activates, as well and then eventually if we get to a point where we get the new tasers, if a taser is drawn from a holster it will activate, as well,” Brooks added. “But with our current tasers that technology is not available. But it is for the firearms.”

“Along those lines, Chief, if one officer forgets to activate, draws their firearm or another officer draws their firearm, will it activate the body-worn camera of everybody in proximity?” Barbanica asked.

“That is correct,” Brooks responded.

Wilson said “there are certain areas in the report that were kind of vague and I wanted to tighten up the verbiage.”

“I would really like to change ‘reasonable effort’ to shall or must, because reasonable effort is really subjective,” she said.

“Also, the discipline it really didn’t go into detail. Is that like a finger wagging…or sitting down with that officer, or probation or termination?” Wilson asked.

“That vagueness is necessary, just because if there’s a violation there could be a number of different varying circumstances. It could depend on the tenure of the officer, it could be if the deactivation was…accidental or if it’s malicious. It could be an officer who has had disciplinary problems it could be someone with

“That gives me the discretion to look at each situation and determine the level of discipline that should be,” he added.

“I just don’t want to leave it so open that we end up with a grey area and someone uses that grey area to not be terminated,” Wilson responded. “I really want to get this right…and don’t want to look back…and not take care of these loose ends.”

“What I’ll say to that is, if you look at any of our policies, none of them have a defined level of discipline,” Brooks stated. “I would caution us to be careful and recognize that would be unique to this policy, alone, because there could be mitigating circumstances.”

Thorpe spoke next saying,, “I tend to agree with Councilwoman Wilson on some of the vagueness. I don’t like the references to reasonable effort. You’re either doing this or you’re not. I was looking more for a shall.”

“The five of us are the policy makers and staff brings forward recommended policies and what we adopt will be our policies,” he continued. “When I hear the public say…the ACLU model, they want to know what protections are in there for them.”

“We can move forward with this initial policy and then we expand it and work in protections for the public…the accountability…and how officers will be responsible and make sure their body-cameras are activated,” Thorpe stated.

“I’m concerned about this phrase uniformed officers,” he said. “I thought we were giving a body cam to every sworn officer. There are officers doing enforcement when they’re not in their uniform.”

“The uniform could…include detectives using their…vests and duty belt,” Brooks explained. “What it’s not designed for is officers working undercover.”

“Oh, OK. Thank you for the clarity,” Thorpes responded.

“My preference is that we move forward, tonight…instead of prolonging this any longer…and if there is something we need to tighten up we can address that,” Barbanica said. “We can always amend a policy.”

“I, too would like to see us move forward on this,” Ogorchock said. “The public has been crying out for this for a long time and we haven’t done this, before.”

Torres-Walker spoke last saying, “I agree with the community that we should pass…I mean you can always go back and change policies. But it’s better to try your hardest to do it right the first time for the maximum amount of transparency and accountability. I also hear what Mayor Pro Tem Wilson is saying around these statements, as in, ‘make every reasonable effort.’”

“I could go through and wordsmith these entire both policies, tonight because I have, myself,” said Torres-Walker. “But I would like to see you, Chief to work with the city attorney and come back to this committee for a second reading and then to the council. And it’s just because there are so many questions, still. And most people talked about the body-worn camera policy but not much about the in-car camera policy.”

“I just think words, language like ‘make a reasonable effort’ should be eliminated,” she continued. “I think anywhere where it say, ‘may activate’ or ‘should activate’ should be eliminated and should be replaced by ‘shall’, ‘shall activate’.”

“I also, when I was looking at the time of storage…it says two years, but I think what I heard from the public and others is we should make it three to five years,” Torres-Walker stated. “How long it take for things to progress in the city I think we should have the storage longer. I mean like have it in the policy and then do what we need to do to make sure we can retain storage for that long from these cameras for evidence or investigational purposes.”

“I also had a lot of questions around the paragraphs for discipline which were not very direct and there was a lot was left open to interpretation,” said Torres-Walker. “I understand, Chief that we can’t put it all in there…and it would be different for everybody. But I know for sure on the mobile cameras…there was a sentence on page three at the top, that I felt like it didn’t give enough information on what do you constitute not complying with this order or with this policy? How do you assess whether there’s an intentional violation of this policy by a particular officer? A repeated pattern of non-compliance could be three-to-five times. How many times before disciplinary action is taken?”

“100 miles per hour seems a little fast for a city street and I’m sure that could be the case in a high-speed chase, but I would like that to be reduced to 80 or 85 miles per hour to trigger the cameras,” she added.

Torres-Walker then asked about Code 3 driving. Brooks responded that it means with lights and siren.

“I know that the community has been waiting a very long time, especially the department,” she then stated. “Me more than anybody want to move this forward. But I think we need to take back what we heard from the community. I don’t think I can support this policy, today as it is. That’s just my position.”

Brooks then addressed the storage issues.

“When video is tagged as related to a particular case, that is saved and can be kept permanently,” he said. “That video footage is kept and saved for as long as a criminal case or civil complaint is pending.”

“Maybe that can be added as well,” Torres-Walker said.

“I’ll take a look at it.” Brooks responded.

Motion to Adopt Policies Fails

In the vote on the motion by Ogorchock, seconded by Barbanica, Torres-Walker voted no.

Both Ogorchock and Barbanica voted in favor of their motion.

That was followed by Wilson also voting no saying, “At this time I can’t approve this going forward.”

Thorpe was at first unavailable for the vote, saying he was dealing with his child who was sick. He asked Torres-Walker, “Chair, what was your recommendation?”

“My recommendation was a no,” she responded, and then asked Assistant City Manager Rosanna Bayon Moore to repeat the votes.

Thorpe then reversed himself from what he said earlier about moving the policies forward, now and revising them, later.

“I would just, you know, strongly encourage, particularly for any policy committee, you know, the chair’s got to work with the department head and city manager on this policy. I think it’s very important that you, Chair Torres-Walker, sit down with the chief to figure out these differences,” Thorpe said. “So, I’m going to go along with your recommendation in voting no.”

“With that the motion fails,” said Bayon Moore.

Wilson then made a motion that Torres-Walker work with Chief Brooks and the city attorney and then bring it back for one more vote.

“Wouldn’t we be doing that anyway and it doesn’t need a roll-call vote?” asked Ogorchock.

Thorpe then made an amendment to the motion to bring back the final recommendation directly to the

“This would usually come back to the standing committee. You could schedule the meeting for the standing committee immediately before the next council meeting. If there is going to be substantial change…we should be giving the policy to the union for review, which will take some time. And then it can go to city council.”

“Would it be possible for the union to discuss before the next council meeting? Is it a negotiation? Do the union add input, Chief?” Torres-Walker asked.

“It would be a meet and confer issue because it would be a change in working conditions,” Brooks responded.

“Then we’re looking to the middle or end of August before we’re looking at any of this, so it’s another month to month and a half before the cameras are on the street,” Ogorchock said.

“I understand the urgency about this, but I also heard the community speak and give their input, today,” Torres-Walker said. “Before we implement in this city, how many years have we gone without these in this city. Before our officers are acting with integrity and transparency …. I am in support of Mayor Pro Tem Wilson’s motion to work with the chief. Would you be willing to add the city manager in there?”

“I would be willing to add the city manager,” Wilson responded.

“Isn’t what we’re doing right now giving direction to staff?” she then asked of Smith.

“Yes…I think we just proceed along the course,” he responded.

That motion passed on a 5-0 vote.

In a post on his official Facebook page on Wednesday afternoon, District 2 Councilman Mike Barbanica wrote, “Thank you for the calls and feedback today about last night’s meeting. Yes, I was disappointed in the vote that the cameras are not on the street immediately. We will continue to push to get them out soon.”

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Judge rules in favor of Sand Creek area developer striking down almost all of Measure T, long-planned homes can be built in Antioch

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2021

The Let Antioch Voters Decide: The Sand Creek Area Protection Initiative known as Measure T on the November 2020 ballot cannot be implemented.

Environmentalists claim victory with Urban Limit Line extension

By Allen Payton

In what amounts to a final blow to Antioch’s Measure T and the environmentalists’ efforts to stop the long-planned new home developments in the city’s Sand Creek area, on June 7, 2021, a Contra Costa Superior Court judge ruled in favor of Oak Hill Park Company in their lawsuit against the City of Antioch to prevent the council from implementing the provisions of the measure. The initiative’s full title was Let Antioch Voters Decide: The Sand Creek Area Protection Initiative (LAVD) and would have devalued Oak Hills’, Zeka Ranch’s and other neighboring property owners’ land by over 98%, downzoning it from two homes per acre to just one home per 80 acres.  Measure T Statement of Decision 060721

In his tentative ruling on June 2, 2021, Judge Edward G. Weil wrote, “The Court finds that the LAVD Initiative, with the exception of Section 22, conflicts with the Housing Crisis Act and is therefore void. The Court further finds that, with the exception of Section 22, the individual provisions of the LAVD Initiative are not volitionally severable. The Court finds that Section 22 is valid and enforceable.” 2021-06-02 Tentative Ruling of Oak Hill

That meant that other than Section 22, none of the other sections of the measure could be separated from the rest of the initiative and applied on their own. The Housing Crisis Act, known as SB330, which was signed into law on October 9, 2019 and went into effect on January 1, 2020, forbids cities from reducing the zoning of residential property until January 1, 2025, by either council action or citizen initiative.

Section 22 of the LAVD initiative reads, “The location of the Urban Limit Line enacted in Antioch Measure K on November 8, 2005, may be changed only by the voters.”

According to Weil’s final ruling, Section 1 of the LAVD Initiative identifies the following as two of the seven primary purposes of the Initiative: “maintains the existing urban limit line,” and “requires voter approval to change these safeguards.” In 2005, Antioch voters adopted Measure K establishing an Urban Limit Line. Under that measure, through December 31, 2020, only the voters could change the location of the Line. After that date, voter approval was not required. The measure’s language claimed, “maintaining voter approval beyond 2020 is in the best interests of Antioch residents.”

Had the judge not ruled in favor of severability of Section 22, the city council would have had the power to move the line from the current location, along the ridgeline on the back side of the former Roddy Ranch Golf Course. However, that part of the judge’s decision has no impact on the proposed developments in the Sand Creek area.

Save Mount Diablo Claims Victory on Urban Limit Line

In a press release by Save Mount Diablo on June 15, announcing the judge’s decision, the organization claimed a victory over the section about the Urban Limit Line. Measure T requires a vote of the people to change the boundaries. That is the only section of the measure the judge allowed to stand.

The group’s press release reads in part:

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On June 7, 2021, Contra Costa Superior Court ruled on a legal challenge to Measure T, the “Let Antioch Voters Decide” initiative. Measure T was approved by 79 percent of Antioch voters in November 2020. The legal challenge, OAK HILL PARK CO. VS. THE CITY OF ANTIOCH, was filed by out-of-state developer Oak Hill Park LLC/Richfield in an attempt to strike down Measure T. Measure T included growth management provisions for the Sand Creek area in southeast Antioch and extended protections for the Antioch Urban Limit Line.

Part of Measure T was affirmed, and part was ruled in conflict with SB 330—a 2019 housing crisis law enacted after Measure T was qualified in 2018 but before the public voted in November 2020.

“Save Mount Diablo, the Antioch community, and our other good partners have been working to defend and protect the important open spaces of the Sand Creek Focus Area for years against various developers and lawsuits. This past November, 79 percent of Antioch voters approved our Measure T to give the Sand Creek area more protections,” said Ted Clement, Save Mount Diablo’s Executive Director. “In the recent court ruling, our efforts were successful in saving the Antioch Urban Limit Line, which affords protections to Sand Creek, but other parts of Measure T were struck down. We are also proud that our Measure T gave Antioch voters a voice to express their clear desire that Sand Creek have more protections, and we hope Antioch officials will respect the overwhelming will of the people.”

After the election, in February 2021 Oak Hill Park LLC/Richfield once again challenged Measure T, based in part on SB 330. The state passed Senate Bill 330, the Housing Crisis Act of 2019, after the 2018 qualification of Measure T but before the November election. SB 330 established new rules about what initiatives and local jurisdictions can do to affect housing.

The court’s ruling finds that Measure T, with the exception of the provision extending the Urban Limit Line (ULL), conflicts with Senate Bill 330 and is therefore void. A requirement for a public vote for major development west of Kaiser Hospital and Deer Valley Road in the Sand Creek Focus Area, and a variety of development standards Measure T would have required, have been nullified.

However, the coalition’s efforts and Measure T saved the Antioch Urban Limit Line. The court preserved Measure T’s extension of Antioch’s Urban Limit Line, and the requirement that any changes to the Urban Limit Line must be approved by the voters. Without Measure T’s approval in November 2020, that voter approval requirement would have expired on December 31, 2020.

“Our coalition educated Antioch residents about the Sand Creek and Empire Mine Road area,” said Seth Adams, Save Mount Diablo’s Land Conservation Director. “We saved the Antioch Urban Limit Line, built a strong grassroots coalition, established greater concern within the city council about the Sand Creek area, and received a very strong 79 percent election result of public support to help with the next steps. We’re in this for the long run. The work continues. We will oppose Zeka and Richfield, defend Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve and Deer Valley Regional Park, and work to ensure that more of the Sand Creek area is protected.”

What Is SB 330?

SB 330 was signed into law by Governor Newsom in October 2019. It’s designed to speed up housing construction in California during the next half-decade by slashing the time it takes to obtain building permits, limiting fee increases on housing applications, and barring local governments from reducing the number of homes that can be built. Although it’s meant to encourage affordable housing, Antioch already provides more affordable housing than most cities.

The Antioch coalition qualified our initiative, and the Antioch City Council adopted it, long before SB 330 was signed into law. It was only because of lawsuits from developers Zeka Group and Oak Hill Park LLC/Richfield that our initiative was delayed until a judge sent our initiative to the November 2020 ballot, where we won in a 79 percent landslide. But by then, SB 330 had been signed.

Because of all this, we’ve known that some parts of Measure T might be struck down in court, and other parts might be “severed” and survive. Based on the court’s tentative ruling, that’s what’s happened.

Summary

Measure T has saved the Antioch Urban Limit Line. However, the rest of the initiative was struck down.

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No Decision on Possible Appeal

Asked if Save Mount Diablo planned to appeal the judge’s decision, Adams responded, “No decision has been made. Can’t say at this point.”

City Council Discusses Lawsuit

During a special Conference with Legal Counsel on Tuesday, June 22, 2021, the Antioch City Council discussed the case of Oak Hill Park Company, vs. the City of Antioch, Contra Costa County Superior Court, Case No. N21-0048.

However, City Attorney Thomas Lloyd Smith said, “There was no reportable action on the item.”

Oak Hill Park Company Responds

In response to their lawsuit victory, Oak Hill Park Company’s attorney, Alicia Guerra, issued the following statement: “Oak Hill Park Company appreciates the Court’s thoughtful ruling invalidating almost every provision of the Initiative under the Housing Crisis Act, and looks forward to working with the City in the future.”

Oak Hill plans a 370-home project known as Bridle Hills, south of the 1,177-home The Ranch project approved by the city council, last year. The neighboring 338-home project, known as Zeka Ranch is planned for 200 of the 640 acres of the former Higgins Ranch property located on the closed Empire Mine Road, adjacent to the Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve.

History of Sand Creek Area and Urban Limit Line

Plans for new homes in the Sand Creek area, formerly known as Future Urban Area-1 (FUA-1), have been underway since developers purchased the land in the 1990’s following voter adoption of the county-wide Urban Limit Line (ULL) in 1990, protecting 65% of the land in the county from subdivision development. In 2003, the Antioch City Council reduced the total number of homes allowed in the Sand Creek area from over 8,900 to 4,000. Of that figure, approximately 877 homes remain to be approved and built west of Deer Valley Road, which is the area the initiative would have affected. Another 640 homes planned for the Roddy Ranch development will no longer be built since that land was sold by Jack Roddy and his partners to the East Bay Regional Parks District several years ago, and is currently referred to as Deer Valley Regional Park.

In 2006 County voters passed Measure L, which extended the term of the ULL through 2026 and required a 2016 review to determine whether enough capacity existed inside the ULL to accommodate jobs and housing growth through 2036. The location of the county’s line matches that of the City of Antioch’s ULL.

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