Archive for the ‘District Attorney’ Category

Judge rules Antioch Police officers’ racist texts will be disclosed to defense in felony court case

Friday, April 7th, 2023

“contain unambiguously and historically racist speech directed toward the suspects the officers were investigating.” – DA Diana Becton

By Allen D. Payton

Following a Friday, April 7th ruling by Contra Costa Superior Court Judge Clare M. Maier during a felony court case involving Antioch Police officers, racist texts exchanged by the officers and directed toward the suspects will be disclosed to the defense, District Attorney Diana Becton announced. Several Antioch officers are currently on paid leave and under investigation for alleged racist and other offensive texts, in addition to the remaining seven out of eight officers that have been on paid leave and under investigation by the FBI and DA’s Office since March 2022. One of the eight Antioch officers quit the force. (See related articles here and here)

Becton shared that the judge “urged caution in the distribution of the language and images contained in the texts as they can spark more hatred toward Blacks and Latinos.”

Statement by DA Diana Becton on Disclosure of Racist Texts in Felony Case

Today, Contra Costa Superior Court Judge Clare Maier ruled on the disclosure of information that centers on racist text messages exchanged by Antioch Police officers.

For over a year, the FBI and the Contra Costa District Attorney’s Office have engaged in a joint federal and state criminal investigation of sworn law enforcement officers from the Antioch Police Department and Pittsburg Police Department. The broad range of offenses under investigation involve crimes of moral turpitude.

Due to the sensitivity and scope of the investigation, a court procedure was established to balance the integrity of the criminal investigation with the disclosure of exculpatory information (i.e., evidence that is beneficial to a defendant).

In accordance with legal precedent, the Contra Costa District Attorney’s Office has been scrupulous in maintaining the balance as the court constructed.

Recently, additional information has come to light in which police misconduct directly overlaps and impacts a charged felony case.

The joint investigation with the FBI has revealed that Antioch Police officers exchanged text messages which contain unambiguously and historically racist speech directed toward the suspects the officers were investigating.

The racial animus expressed by officers in the recovered text messages trigger additional statutory concerns under the Racial Justice Act.

In seeking further direction from the court, the DA’s Office and the defense appeared in front of Judge Maier on April 4th to present information detailing the overlap of the officers’ misconduct and a charged felony case.

In her ruling today, Judge Maier said that the offensive texts in the two investigative reports shall be disclosed to the defense in the charged felony case. She added, the reports will be redacted to shield cell phone numbers and urged caution in the distribution of the language and images contained in the texts as they can spark more hatred toward Blacks and Latinos.

The integrity of the joint investigation and legal requirements for the disclosure of exculpatory evidence is of paramount importance to the District Attorney’s Office. Our office will continue to work tirelessly to ensure public trust and public safety for the residents of Contra Costa County.

Diana Becton

District Attorney, Contra Costa County

Public’s help needed in legal action against Christopher George Miller

Thursday, March 30th, 2023

Arrested for sex crimes against minors in Contra Costa, first at Deer valley High

By Ted Asregadoo, PIO, Contra Costa District Attorney’s Office

As the seven-count felony case against Christopher George Miller continues in Superior Court in Martinez, the investigative team who arrested him in a sting operation for arranging to engage in sex acts with a minor are asking the public for help.

The investigation into Miller started in 2022 when he was employed at Deer Valley High School in Antioch as a campus supervisor. A parent of a student reported to school officials that Miller was sending inappropriate texts to the student regarding marijuana use at the school, as well as sexually suggestive messages. (See related article)

The Contra Costa County Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC) adopted the case about three weeks ago to see if Miller (who was then a former employee at the high school) would sell marijuana and arrange to meet for sex. Posing as a 13-year-old girl on a chat app Miller used, a Detective with the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office started communicating with him. At one point while exchanging texts, Miller offered to sell the fictitious teen marijuana — and later the chats became more sexual in nature.

Miller arranged to meet the teen for sex at a park in Martinez on March 16th, 2023. Participating ICAC members from the Sheriff’s Office, Concord Police, Danville Police, Pittsburg Police, and the District Attorney’s Office met him at the park and arrested Miller on marijuana possession with the intent to sell to a minor and other charges related to contacting and arranging to engage in lewd and lascivious acts with a minor. He was booked into the Martinez Detention Facility and arraigned on a total of seven felony charges on March 21st. His preliminary hearing is set for April 3rd at 8:30 am in Department 25 in Martinez.

According to the charging document filed on March 20 by the CCDA’s Office, Miller was charged with seven felonies, including P0288.3(a), Contact with Minor for Sexual Offense on or about June 14, 2022; PC288.4(b), Meeting Minor for Lewd Purposes between March 10 and 16, 2023; PC288.3(a), Contact with Minor for Sexual Offense on or between March 10 and 16, 2023; PC288.2(a)(2), Distributing Or Showing Pornography To A Minor on or about March 14, 2023; PC288.2(a)(2), Distributing Or Showing Pornography To A Minor on or about March 15, 2023; PC 664/PC288(a), Attempted Lewd Act Upon A Child on or about March 16, 2023; PC 664/HS11360(a), Attempted Sale/Offer To Sell/Transportation Of Marijuana on or about March 16, 2023. 01-23-00820 – Charging Document Miller

ICAC Senior Inspector Darryl Holcombe notes that Miller may have been in contact with other victims. He’s asking the public to email him at the District Attorney’s Office if they have information related to Miller’s case. He can be reached at:

Case No. 01-23-00820 | The People of the State of California v. Miller, Christopher George

Allen D. Payton contributed to this report.

DA says 2021 use of force by Antioch Police Officers was lawful

Saturday, January 14th, 2023

Following investigation of in-custody death of Arturo Gomez Calel; while on meth attempted to break into occupied vehicles, struggled with and was tased by police

Mayor Thorpe used incident to push his police reforms at special Friday meeting later that week

By Ted Asregadoo, PIO, Contra Costa District Attorney’s Office

Martinez, Calif. –  On Friday, Jan. 13, 2023, the Contra Costa District Attorney’s Office released a report on the 2021 in-custody death of 33-year-old Arturo Gomez Calel in Antioch clearing police of any wrongdoing. The DA determined as written below, “the use of force by Antioch Police Officers was lawful and permitted”. 

The incident occurred just after midnight on Wednesday, February 24, 2021 in which Gomez was on meth, attempting to break into occupied vehicles on a major city street, then struggled and was Tasered by police. Later that day, Mayor Lamar Thorpe held an emergency press conference with then-Police Chief Tammany Brooks and used the incident to push his police reforms at a special Friday meeting that week. (See related article)

The report is part of a Contra Costa County protocol to investigate incidents where police officers or civilians are shot or die during an encounter with law enforcement. The District Attorney’s Office conducts its own independent investigation into law enforcement fatal incidents (LEIFI) and details those findings — along with a legal analysis and a charging decision – in a report that’s released to the public. The release of the LEIFI report on Gomez is the final step in the investigation.

District Attorney Diana Becton notes, “My administration has been committed to public safety, transparency, and increased accountability since I was elected in 2018. The LEIFI investigations are an example of that commitment to be transparent with the public about in-custody deaths like that of Mr. Gomez.” 

The February 24th, 2021, incident involving Arturo Gomez began after midnight when Gomez placed a 911 call to authorities claiming his phone had been hacked. A dispatcher noted that Gomez sounded paranoid and appeared to be in an argument with another person – whom authorities later learned was a Lyft driver. While Gomez was traveling in the Lyft vehicle, he came into possession of the driver’s phone after Gomez asked to see the address he was going to. At one point, the Lyft driver said he became fearful Gomez was going to physically harm him and exited the vehicle. Gomez proceeded to climb into the driver’s seat and attempted to drive off. However, his efforts were thwarted by the Lyft driver — who retrieved the ignition key before Gomez could drive away. Gomez then exited the vehicle and fled on foot. 

When officers from Antioch Police arrived on the scene at Lone Tree Way at Ridgerock Drive, Gomez was on a cell phone. As an officer approached him, Gomez backed away saying “You’re a fake cop.” Gomez then led the officers on a foot chase where he eventually ran into traffic on Lone Tree Way. To mitigate the safety hazard Gomez was creating, police set up a traffic break to prevent vehicles from traveling through the incident area.

While trying to evade police, Gomez tripped and fell to the ground on James Donlon Boulevard. One officer ordered him to stay on the ground, but Gomez ignored the command. Officers then tried to physically subdue him, but Gomez continued to struggle, and a physical altercation ensued. After multiple Taser deployments on Gomez, the officers were eventually able to handcuff him. At no point did any of the officers involved use the weight of their body on Gomez’s back or neck, nor did they use a carotid restraint on him.

However, shortly after Gomez was detained, he became unresponsive and stopped moving altogether. Officers rolled him onto his left side, noticed his breathing had become labored and then began administering life-saving measures while emergency medical personnel were enroute. Gomez died later at a local hospital.

An autopsy to determine the cause of Gomez’s death was performed by Dr. Arnold Josselson on February 25th. Dr. Josselson found Gomez had 910 nanograms of methamphetamine and 54 nanograms of amphetamine in his blood — substances which, when taken in large doses, can lead to convulsions, circulatory collapse, hallucinations, and cardiac arrest. Dr. Josselson concluded that Gomez died from “asphyxia and cardiac arrest while in a prone position during a struggle with police after being tased while under the influence of methamphetamine.” 

During his testimony at the Coroner’s Inquest on April 29, 2022, Dr. Josselson explained to the jurors the three-step process that led to Gomez’s death. The first stage was brought on by the amount of methamphetamine in his system; an amount that gave rise to his aggressive and physically active behavior when resisting police arrest. In the second stage, Gomez’s muscles were completely exhausted and lacked the ability to expand his rib cage allowing him to breathe. The third stage was brought about by low oxygen levels that led to his heart stopping. Following the testimony of Dr. Josselson and other witnesses, the jury reached a unanimous verdict that Arturo Gomez’s death was an accident (i.e., an unforeseen event, misfortune, act, or omission with no evidence of an intent to harm or cause death). 

In its legal analysis, the District Attorney’s Office concluded that, given the totality of facts in this incident, the use of force by Antioch Police Officers was lawful and permitted pursuant to California Penal Code sections 835, 835a, 835a(a)(4), and 835a(b). Consequently, the Contra Costa District Attorney’s Office will take no further action regarding the in-custody death of Arturo Gomez. 

The District Attorney’s Office is in the process of notifying the Gomez family about the publication of this report. A copy of the report has also been sent to state Attorney General Rob Bonta’s office and is available on the District Attorney’s website.

Allen D. Payton contributed to this report.

Antioch woman faces murder charge in shooting death

Thursday, January 5th, 2023

Bail set at $2 million

By Ted Asregadoo, PIO, Contra Costa Disrict Attorney’s Office

Booking photo of suspect Serico Justice. Source: APD

An Antioch woman faces a felony murder charge with an enhancement for the shooting death of a neighbor. (See related article)

37-year-old Serico Justice is currently in the Martinez Detention Facility awaiting arraignment for a felony murder charge [PC187(a)] with an enhancement of personally and intentionally discharging a firearm [PC12022.53(d)]. Justice’s use of a handgun caused the injury and death of 31-year-old Hannisha Jamilah Willis on December 27, 2022. The incident occurred on the 2300 block of Mandarin Way in Antioch, where the women lived next door to each other.

Antioch Police Department investigated the incident and reported that the shooting happened during a verbal and physical fight between the women around 2:15 pm. Justice was in possession of a handgun at the time of the altercation – a gun she armed herself with prior to the confrontation. Willis suffered a single shot to her head after Justice fired her weapon. She died later from her injuries at a local hospital.

The case was referred to the Contra Costa District Attorney’s Office by Antioch Police on December 28th. Charges were filed against Justice on December 29th. She’s scheduled to be arraigned on January 13, 2023, at 1:30 pm in Martinez. Her bail has been set at $2,000,000.00.

However, her arraignment was “put over” to a later date after her attorney filed a 977 Form which waived her right to a speedy trial.

04-22-01440 | The People of the State of California vs. Serico Justice


D.A. Becton explains charging decision of suspect in Antioch robbery homicide of store clerk

Friday, December 2nd, 2022

Based “on a legal and factual determination — and not an elective, optional, or discretionary one.”

Contra Costa County District Attorney Diana Becton issued the following statement on the charging decision of Ronald Benjamin Jackson, III who was arrested for robbing an Antioch gas station convenience store and killing the clerk, James Williams while exchanging gunfire on Sunday morning, Nov. 26. (See related articles here and here)

“The family, friends, and loved ones of James Williams are understandably devastated by the shocking news of his death in a gun battle at the Chevron station in Antioch on November 26th — where he worked as a store clerk. Our sympathies and condolences go out to those closest to him.

The Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office declined to file murder charges in this case solely on a legal and factual determination — and not an elective, optional, or discretionary one. It was based upon an established law that clearly states a person cannot pursue another to retrieve stolen property once the threat of bodily injury or harm to the victim has subsided.

The video evidence of the incident clearly shows Ronald Benjamin Jackson, III, and another suspect exiting the Chevron station convenience store after the robbery and running from the scene. Mr. Williams is also seen in the video footage leaving the Chevron station store with a firearm while running after the robbers. Mr. Williams then fired upon Mr. Jackson, hitting him in the leg while he was fleeing and causing him to fall to the ground. Mr. Williams continued to approach Mr. Jackson with his firearm pointing at him when Mr. Jackson fired shots at Williams hitting him twice. Once in the chest and in the leg.

In the eyes of the law, Mr. Williams’ actions ceased to be self-defense when Mr. Williams pursued Mr. Jackson and the other suspect with a firearm — and continued to pursue Mr. Jackson after he shot him.

The legal distinction is clear: when your property and life are being threatened, an individual is legally justified in using deadly force in self-defense. However, once the threat of harm has dissipated, the victim of a property crime cannot then use deadly force to reclaim stolen property.

However, the reality of Mr. Williams’ tragic death will be a substantial factor in the DA’s position in asking for greater penalties in the sentencing of the defendants.

Diana Becton, District Attorney of Contra Costa County”

Allen D. Payton contributed to this report.

Antioch Mayor Thorpe no show for DUI trial, attorney says he wants to change plea

Wednesday, October 12th, 2022

New hearing set for Dec. 13

By Allen D. Payton

According to an Antioch resident who was at the courthouse in Martinez, Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2022, Mayor Lamar Thorpe did not show up for his DUI trial before Judge Joni T. Hiramoto, and that his lawyer stated Thorpe wants to change his plea from not guilty. The resident also shared that a new hearing for Thorpe is set for Dec. 13, 2022, in Dept 20. at 8:30 am. The information was later confirmed by Contra Costa District Attorney’s Office Public Information Officer, Ted Asregadoo.

Thorpe was arrested in March for DUI at 1:15 a.m. in Concord. In a Facebook video later that morning he apologized for having “the drink with dinner”. He wouldn’t say with whom or where he had dinner nor what alcohol he had consumed that night. Thorpe was charged by the DA and later pled not guilty. (See related articles here, here, here and here)

However, reports from the staff of an Antioch restaurant are that Thorpe had consumed three shots of alcohol earlier that evening before heading out of town.

An email was sent to Asregadoo Wednesday morning asking, if he could confirm the information provided by the resident was true and if not, to please provide the correct information. In addition, he was asked who from the DA’s office is prosecuting the case.

“You are correct,” he replied. “The next court date is on 12/13/22 at 8:30 am in Department 20.  They set the date today for a change of plea. I don’t know which DDA has been assigned to this case, but the supervisor of the misdemeanor trail team is Jay Melaas.”

Attempts to reach Thorpe were unsuccessful asking if what the resident shared is true and if not to please provide the correct information. He was also asked, “Why weren’t you there? Were you still in Seattle for the APTA conference or traveling home at the time? What will you be changing your plea to? No contest or guilty? Will you attend the new hearing on Dec. 13?”

Thorpe might have been traveling home from the conference, today and unable to respond to questions. An effort to reach staff of Tri Delta Transit asking who from the agency attended the conference and if Thorpe, who is the agency’s board vice chair, was among them were unsuccessful prior to publication time. District 4 Councilwoman Monica Wilson who is also a board member for the agency representing Antioch did not attend the conference, as was previously expected.

Please check back later for any updates to this report.


In post of self-promoting comments Thorpe repeats Quinto family’s debunked false claims about Antioch Police officers, in custody death

Saturday, October 8th, 2022

Screenshot of Thorpe’s Oct. 6, 2022, Facebook post of Quinto family comments.

Quinto was not in police custody when he died in the hospital three days later from “excited delirium and prescription drugs”

Antioch Police Officers Association, Mayor Pro Tem Barbanica respond; Thorpe does not

By Allen D. Payton

In a post on his official Facebook page on Thursday, Oct. 6, Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe repeated the false claims by the family of Angelo Quinto that he “was killed by Antioch Police” and that his was an “in custody death”. Both claims have been debunked by both the Contra Costa County Coroner and Contra Costa District Attorney’s Office, as well as former Antioch Police Chief Tammany Brooks.

Thorpe posted the glowing comments about himself by Quinto’s mother and stepfather, that include the false claims which read, “‘Mayor Lamar Thorpe has been a courageous leader, helping the city of Antioch overcome a history that has often failed many members of its highly diverse community.

Our son, Angelo Quinto, was killed by Antioch Police in December 2020, soon after Mayor Thorpe was elected. A second in custody death followed closely thereafter. Mayor Thorpe was instrumental in seeking and achieving meaningful reforms, including body cams and non-police mental health response teams, that led to better policing for the Antioch community in an expeditious manner.

As a result of Mayor Thorpe’s fearless leadership, the city of Antioch has reformed or is in the midst of reforming many critical areas. His fearlessness has often made him the target of attacks by members of the community who don’t understand the need or are afraid of the reforms that have been undertaken. He is a forward looking leader who will not be silenced, and is helping Antioch overcome a legacy of exclusion and division, and transform it into a city that lives by its motto, opportunity lives here.’

Cassandra Quinto-Collins and Robert Collins”

The other death they referred to, was of a man that occurred in February 2021 while he was in custody at a local hospital. He was under the influence of drugs, running into traffic on major city streets and attempted to break into a car with the driver inside and had to be tazed by police to subdue him. He was administered NARCAN and later died while still in-custody at a local hospital. (See related article)

March 2021 – Antioch Police Chief: No Knee to Neck, Quinto Died While Not in Police Custody

Yet, during the press conference held about the case, in March 2021, then-Antioch Police Chief Tammany Brooks said Quinto died in the hospital three days after the incident while not in police custody. (See related article)

At that press conference which Thorpe both attended and spoke during, Brooks said there was no knee on Quinto’s neck by officers and he was not in custody at time of his Dec. 26 death. In addition, Brooks released the 9-11 calls from Quinto’s family to Antioch Police demonstrating the need for the officers’ response to protect the family from Quinto who was harming them. Officers arrived on the scene to find Quinto being actively restrained by his mother on a bedroom floor of the home, Brooks further shared.

In addition, he shared he had “been in contact with the Coroner’s Office and the following four points have been jointly approved by multiple pathologists related to their findings thus far:

  1. Although the decedent had injuries consistent with a struggle with his family and law enforcement, none of the injuries appeared to be fatal.
  2. There were no fractures of the skull, torso, or extremities.
  3. A full examination of the neck revealed there was no evidence of strangulation or crushed airway.
  4. They are currently expanding toxicology testing because they were aware of reported past drug use.”

August 2021 – County Coroner’s Inquest Jury: Quinto’s Death Was Accident Caused by “Excited Delirium and Prescription Drugs”

Then in August 2021, a Contra Costa County Sheriff-Coroner’s Inquest Jury, after hearing the testimony of witnesses, found that Quinto’s death was an accident. He “succumbed to excited delirium and prescription drugs during the physical altercation with officers, the Contra Costa County Coroner’s Office ruled”.  (See related article)

September 2022 – Contra Costa DA Report: Officers Acted In Lawful, Objectively Reasonable Manner

Finally, early last month, the Contra Costa District Attorney’s Office issued a 39-page, “Report of the Law Enforcement Involved Fatal Incident In-Custody Death of Angelo Voithugo Quinto on December 24, 2020” in which they wrote, “…Antioch Police officers engaged with Quinto in a manner that was lawful and objectively reasonable under the circumstances…an internal examination showed no bone fractures or damage to Quinto’s larynx and trachea…” The report concluded that, “In applying the applicable law and the California District Attorney’s Uniform Crime Charging Standards to the present case, there is no evidence of a criminal offense committed by Officer Becerra, Officer Perkinson, Officer Hopwood, or Officer Shipilov. As such, no further action will be taken in this case.” (See related article)

Thorpe Refuses to Answer Questions, Now Limiting Comments on Official Facebook Page

Questions were sent to Thorpe Saturday morning, Oct. 8 asking, “do you not believe the findings from the office of your political ally, D.A. Diana Becton? Do you not recognize the negative impacts of what you’ve shared on the morale of Antioch Police Department personnel?

Are you not aware that officers who are leaving the department are claiming in their exit interviews that it’s partially and directly related to your attitude and that of your two council colleagues, Monica Wilson and Tamisha Torres-Walker, against them, other APD officers and the department as a whole?”

In addition, posts on his Facebook page show Thorpe only allows select individuals to post comments. Below each post the following sentence can be read: “Mayor Lamar A. Thorpe limited who can comment on this post.”

He was then asked, “Why have you limited comments on this and other posts on your official Facebook page? Are you afraid of reading comments by ang engaging with your constituents who you were elected to represent and serve? Do you not want to know what your constituents are thinking? Isn’t that being cowardly? Who are you allowing and not allowing to comment on the posts on that page? What is the criteria you are using for your selectivity?”

Screenshot of Sept. 2, 2022, Facebook post of APOA statement regarding the CCDA’s Quinto case report.

Antioch Police Officers Association Responds

Asked if he had a response to Thorpe’s post Sergeant Rick Hoffman, president of the Antioch Police Officers Association provided the statement they issued to the Associated Press in September and posted on their Facebook page on Sept. 2nd:

“The death of Angelo Quinto was an unfortunate circumstance and the men and women of the Antioch Police Department continue to pray for the Quinto family. The Contra Costa County District Attorney’s office has cleared the Antioch Police Officers involved in this incident of any wrongdoing and we believe this is the correct decision.”

Mayor Pro Tem Barbanica Also Responds

Mayor Pro Tem Mike Barbanica also responded to Thorpe’s posting of the Quinto family’s comments, sharing the Sept. 2nd post on his own official Facebook page following the announcement by the DA’s office. He wrote, “I want to be very clear that the loss of any human life is tragic. This is not in any way meant to minimize that. This article speaks for itself and I believe that we should wait for investigations to be completed before making assumptions.

Screenshot of Mayor Pro Tem Mike Barbanica’s Sept. 2, 2022, Facebook post regarding the CCDA’s Quinto case report

During this time, so many statements were made by members of the public and elected officials which led many people to believe there was wrongdoing before any formal investigation was complete. I want to point out, that I always understand the emotion and the sense of loss from family members, so this is in no way referring to their response or minimizing their grief. This is about people within our community and elected officials that should know better, that we should wait to find out the facts before jumping to conclusions.

Last year there were even statements published after being made by Assemblyman Gipson of So. CA. that there was an officer that did kneel on Mr. Quinto’s neck for five minutes, giving the appearance that this contributed to this death. This statement was made before any findings were made public.

On 9/3/21, I personally called and spoke with the Assemblyman about this, telling him that I disagreed with his public statement, especially before any findings had been published and that there was no evidence of this. I also brought to his attention at that time, the recent Coroner’s Inquest findings. During that conversation, he told me that he was going to personally call Chief Brooks and apologize for the premature statement and apologize to the APD. With Chief Brooks permission, I supplied the Assemblyman with the chief’s personal cell phone number.

On 9/13/21 I again reached out to him as that call had not yet happened, but he told me that he would be making the call. To my knowledge, that has yet to happen.”

Please check back later for any updates to this report.

DA drops charge against Antioch Councilwoman Torres-Walker in 2021 police interference case

Tuesday, September 13th, 2022

The Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office dropped charges against Antioch District 1 Councilwoman Tamisha Torres-Walker from an Oct. 3, 2021, incident at her home. Photo source: Facebook

Neither will say why; contributed $500 to Becton’s re-election campaign last year

Councilwoman blames police, claiming “my family and I have gone through a hell… we feared for our safety from the very people who on some level we trust to protect us from harm.”

“Antioch police officers are not targeting Councilwoman Torres-Walker.” – Rick Hoffman, President, APOA

Council candidates Motts, Gibson-Gray support release of body cam video; police dep’t, city attorney continue to stonewall release claiming it’s “privileged”

By Allen D. Payton

The Contra Costa District Attorney’s Office confirmed on Thursday, Sept. 1 that the charge against Antioch District 1 Councilwoman Tamisha Torres-Walker for interfering with police outside her home on October 3, 2021, had been dropped in August. Neither DA Diana Becton nor Torres-Walker will say why.

Asked about the decision, CCDA Public Information Officer Ted Asregadoo simply responded, “The misdemeanor case against Tamisha Torres-Walker was dismissed on 8/8/2022 in the Interest of Justice or Furtherance of Justice (PC 1385). The DA’s Office isn’t commenting on the reason for the dismissal.”

According to reports, police were dispatched to Torres-Walker’s Antioch home shortly after midnight Saturday night, following calls to APD of noise complaints including dirt bikes riding in the street, loud music and gunshots. When officers arrived multiple shell casings were found in front of her home, she emerged from the house, appeared intoxicated, confronted and berated the officers, and interfered in their investigation, including taking the papers of a woman to whom they were speaking to at the scene, from one of the officer’s hand.

The official statements from the Antioch Police following a Public Records Act request by the Herald on Nov. 8, 2021, read, “Officers responded to the 500 block of Gary Ave on October 3, 2021 at 0027 hours, for a report of a loud party and shots heard, in the area.  There were no victims, no injuries, and no property loss determined at the time of officers’ arrival.  As mentioned, this is an open and continuing investigation at this time.”

Torres-Walker was later pressured by Mayor Lamar Thorpe and fellow council members to resign from her position as chair of the council’s Police Oversight Committee. There were also calls by Mayor Pro Tem Mike Barbanica and others for her to resign from the city council. Torres-Walker chose to do the former and remain on the council. (See related articles here and here)

Then, in a response to a second request in March 2022, Antioch Police Captain Trevor Schnitzius wrote, “the requested records are statutorily exempt from disclosure, at this time” due to the ongoing investigation. But he further wrote, “the public interest served by not disclosing clearly outweighs the public interest served by disclosure of the record.” APD response to T Torres-Walker video PRA 032822

Torres-Walker Claims She and Family “Feared” Antioch Police

Torres-Walker’s post on her official Facebook page on Sept. 9, 2022.

Last year, Torres-Walker contributed $500 to DA Diana Becton’s re-election campaign. In another, recent news report she was quoted as saying Antioch Police were targeting her family. Then, on Friday, September 9, 2022, Torres-Walker posted comments on her official Facebook page further attempting to turn on the police both the Oct. 3, 2021 incident at her home and the previous Dec. 2020 incident with her sons, for which she’s being sued by the two APD officers who were involved. (See related article)

“It took me some time to respond to residents and the press because I want to be sensitive to the challenges our police department faces related to multiple outside investigations. I also needed time to reflect with my family and reaffirm my commitment to reimagining public safety here at home in Antioch,” Torres-Walker wrote. “I moved to Antioch more than 8 years ago and even then the silence coming from CITY HALL related to police misconduct and use of force was deafening. It wasn’t till May of 2020 that residents of Antioch some of whom for years have been crying out for help even heard a peep.

This is why one of my first tasks as a newly elected leader was to get straight to work fighting for a police oversight body to foster transparency and accountability as it relates to policing serves. I worked tirelessly on the Council to establish the new department of public safety and community resources.

For the last several months, my family and I have gone through a hell that I wouldn’t wish on anyone’s family, as we feared for our safety from the very people who on some level we trust to protect us from harm.

What is even more appalling is the fact that what I went through is exactly what I hear from many of our residents daily.

We cannot expect Antioch to be its very best when large segments of our population are afraid to speak out.

I finally can leave a series of sad unfortunate incidents behind me and continue working to create an Antioch where everyone feels safe.

Despite what some try to say about me, I fully support public safety measures that meet the needs of all our residents.

Antioch is no longer a small sundown town. We are the second most diverse City in the Bay Area and we deserve policing services that reflect that diversity.

To our residents, I will not stop working until everyone feels safe not just from state-sanctioned violence but from community-based violence as well.

Leadership focused on people and solutions, not just the fight.”

Police Body Cam Video Again Requested from Antioch Police, City Attorney

On Saturday, September 10, 2022, another request to the Antioch Police Department for release of the police body camera footage was made. Interim Police Chief Steve Ford, copying Captains Tony Morefield and Trevor Schnitzius, and City Attorney Thomas L. Smith, was asked, “now that the charges against Councilwoman Torres-Walker for the incident at her home on Oct. 3, 2021, have been dropped by the DA’s office and the investigation has concluded, will you release the officer(s) body dash camera footage of the incident?”

Questions for Torres-Walker Go Unanswered

In addition, Torres-Walker was sent questions on Saturday, Sept. 10 asking, “Are your comments in response to the DA’s Office dropping the charges against you of interfering with police during the Oct. 3, 2021 incident outside your home, as well as the charges against both your sons being dropped in the Dec. 2020 dirt bike chase and traffic stop incident?

Regarding the Oct. 2021 incident, do you know why the charges were dropped? Did anyone at the DA’s Office give you their reason?

What is your side of the story of what occurred that night? Did you grab something from the officer’s hand and interfere with that officer’s questioning of another person? Were you inebriated at the time as has been reported? Do you believe you did anything wrong? If so, will you apologize to both the police officer(s), the department and the public? If not, if you don’t believe you did anything wrong, why did you resign as chair from the council’s Police​ Oversight Committee?

Do you really believe you and your family have been targeted by Antioch Police officers and that they knew who your sons were during the dirt bike chase and traffic stop incident in Dec. 2020 and in responding to gunshots outside your home and noise complaints during the Oct. 2021 incident?

Do you know if either or both of the incidents involved any of the officers that are currently under investigation by the FBI and DA’s Office?

For the purpose of transparency do you support the release of the police officer(s) body camera video footage of the​ Oct. 2021 incident in front of your home?”

The incumbent councilwoman did not respond by publication time.

Questions for Police Officers Association President

In response to Torres-Walker’s latest Facebook comments, questions were also sent to Antioch Police Officers Association (APOA) President Rick Hoffman asking the following: “Have Antioch officers been targeting the councilwoman and her family members?

Did the officers who pursued her sons riding on their dirt bikes on city streets in Dec. 2020 and pulled over the younger one, know they were Torres-Walker’s sons while in pursuit of them?

Did the officer or officers who responded to the incident in Oct. 2021 do so because they knew it was her house before they arrived and if so, is that why they went there?

Does your organization support the release of the body camera video footage from that incident?

Are the two officers, Andrea Rodriguez and Calvin Prieto, who are suing the City and Torres-Walker still on medical leave?

Are either they or any of the officers involved in the Oct. 2021 incident part of those under investigation by the FBI and DA’s Office?

Do you have any additional comments regarding the councilwoman’s latest comments posted on Facebook?”

APOA President Hoffman Responds

APOA President Rick Hoffman responded, “No, Antioch police officers are not targeting Councilwoman Torres-Walker. To do so would not only be foolish, but illegal and would be condemned by the APOA.

To the best of my knowledge, the officers involved in the pursuit of Councilwoman Torres’ sons did not know they were her sons while they were in pursuit of them.

I can say that the officers involved in the response to Councilwoman Torres’ home were responding to a call for service. They were not targeting her or her home.

The APOA supports accountability and transparency for all members of city government. This would include members of the APOA as well as city leaders. APOA members were excited to have finally been given body worn cameras and are eager for the public to see the good work that we do. The APOA would fully support the release of the bodycam footage during the incident at Councilwoman Torres-Walker’s home as we believe it would be important to further the discussion of transparency and accountability.

To the best of my knowledge, Officers Rodriguez and Prieto have been on medical leave since late last year.

I cannot comment on whether or not any officers involved in the FBI investigation responded to Councilwoman Torres-Walker’s home in October 2021. I do not have information as to the extent of that investigation however, I believe that the release of the body camera footage will show all the officers involved and their conduct.

I do not have any comments on Councilwoman Torres’ post. I would only like to reiterate that the APOA is eager to have a good working relationship with all city officials, including Councilwoman Torres-Walker, and hope to better open up the lines of communication so we can work together in the future.”

Both Challengers Also Support Release of Police Video

Both of Torres-Walker’s challengers in the November election, Joy Motts and Diane Gibson-Gray, support the release of the police body camera video of the incident at the District 1 councilwoman’s home in Oct. 2021.

“We’ve gone through all this legislation for transparency and accountability for civilians and our police department. I just don’t understand why that information is not available in particular situations,” Motts said. “I asked for body cams before I left council. Nobody supported it, then. This is all part of the reformations of holding our police to higher standards.”

“I think it’s a privilege to be on council and you have to hold yourself to the highest standards and accountability,” she continued. “The truth is it’s inconvenient right now. That’s how it appears to me. There’s just not equity, truth and accountability.”

“If nothing went wrong, if the body cam footage substantiates dropping the charges, then why not make it available?” Motts asked.

“I would like to know from the city attorney is transparency discretionary and who gets to make that decision,” she added.

When asked about the video camera footage Gibson-Gray said, “I’ve requested it myself and was denied. It’s basically not available to the public. I’m naturally for it.”

Antioch Police Admit to Having Video, Won’t Release Claiming It’s “Privileged”

On Monday afternoon, Sept. 12, the Antioch Police Department’s Police Records Supervisor Amanda Nelson issued, on Interim Chief Ford’s letterhead, the response to the Herald’s request for release of the video included the following reasons for denying the request: “Consistent with its obligation under the CPRA (California Public Records Act), the City advises it has conducted a reasonable search and determined that we possess identifiable records that fall within the scope of your request. The City further advises that it has determined that the requested records are statutorily exempt from disclosure pursuant to: (1) Government Code (section) 6254(a), as “[p]reliminary drafts, notes, or interagency or intra-agency memoranda that are not retained by the public agency in the ordinary course of business”; (2) Government Code (section) 6254(f), as “[r]ecords of complaints to, or investigations conducted by, … any state or local police agency, or any investigatory or security files compiled by any other state or local police agency’; (3) Government Code (section) 6254(k), as “[r]ecords, the disclosure of which is exempted or prohibited pursuant to federal or state law, including, but not limited to, provisions of the Evidence Code relating to privilege,” because the records are privileged under the attorney-client privilege, the attorney work product privilege and/or the deliberative process privilege, the closed session privilege; and (4) Government Code sections 6254.3 and 6254.21 as home address, telephone number, and birth dates of public employees/elected or appointed officials.” APD response to T Torres-Walker video PRA 091222

However, the letter then reads, “Consistent with its obligation under the CPRA, the City provides the following information: 10/3/21 12:27 am at *** Gary Ave. Reports of a loud party in the area and 5-6 shots heard.”

It ends with, “The following person is responsible for this determination after consult with the office of the City Attorney: AMANDA NELSON, POLICE RECORDS SUPERVISOR.”

Additional Questions for Interim Police Chief, City Attorney

Additional questions were then sent to Ford, Smith, copying Morefield, Schnitzius and Nelson asking, “Instead of leaving the​ decision up to a lower-level staffer, such as the Police Records Supervisor to determine what will and won’t be released, thus playing the Pontius Pilate game of washing your hands of it, why don’t you make the leadership decision and release the video which you know is the​ right thing to do for the purpose of transparency for the​ benefit of the public you claim you want the Antioch Police Department to serve and to avoid the appearance of both showing favoritism to a sitting council member facing re-election and a cover up, both coordinated with the Contra Costa District Attorney’s Office?

Why did on one hand the APD inform me, previously in Nov. 2021, they couldn’t release the video due to the ongoing investigation, then in March 2022, Captain Schnitzius wrote, ‘the requested records are statutorily exempt from disclosure, at this time’. But he further wrote, ‘the public interest served by not disclosing clearly outweighs the public interest served by disclosure of the record’, yet now, after the investigation is over and the charges have been dropped, the reason is conveniently changed to continue to conceal from the public what they have a right to see and know? How does not disclosing the video clearly outweigh the public interest in disclosing it? Isn’t just the opposite?

Instead of hiding behind what you’ve determined is ‘statutorily exempt’ why not simply release the video and let the public decide whether or not they think either the councilwoman or the officer(s) acted appropriately?

What is the point of having police officer body cameras if the videos are rarely if ever released since only one has been, so far in over a year of operating them?

How are the records ‘privileged under attorney-client privilege’, ‘attorney work product privilege’, ‘the deliberative process privilege’ or a ‘closed session privilege’ by any means since the city attorney did and does not represent Councilwoman Torres-Walker in this incident which occurred at her private residence and her actions were outside of her official duties, and aren’t a matter of closed session? Who is it that is participating in the so-called ‘deliberative process’ preventing you from releasing the video?

Ford and Smith were also asked, “are you claiming the video footage from Antioch Police officer body cameras aren’t retained? Or are you claiming they’re not part of “the ordinary course of business” when they’re supposedly automatically deployed whenever an officer leaves his patrol vehicle?”

Additional Public Records Act Requests Made

Another Public Records Act request was then made on Monday night, Sept. 12, 2022, of any and all reports by any and all Antioch Police officers who responded to any and all calls for service at Tamisha Torrs-Walker’s home (at *** Gary Avenue in Antioch, California) on Oct. 3, 2021.

Then due to reports that there have been multiple police calls for service at the councilwoman’s Antioch home, a separate Public Records Act was made Monday night, for the same type of aforementioned reports for any other Antioch Police call for service at any other time at Tamisha Torres-Walker’s current or any other, previous Antioch home(s) from Jan. 1, 2020, through today.

The department has 10 days to respond and can delay their response by up to another 14 days.

Please check back later for any updates to this report including responses from Torres-Walker, Ford or Smith.

Note: Torres-Walker’s home address was intentionally not included in this article and redacted in the letter from APD by the Herald.