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by mary shelton
Sunday, Mar. 25, 2001 at 12:36 PM
Riverside Sheriff's Department has decided not to recommend that charges be filed against Robert Marks for the fatal shooting of Dante Meniefield.
The Moreno Valley Police Department officer who shot and killed Dante Meniefield on March 10 should not face criminal charges, said investigators from the Riverside Sheriffs Department, in a written report that was submitted to the District Attorney’s office last week.
“We did not find any criminal conduct on the part of the officer,” Sheriff’s spokesman Mark Lohman said. He identified the officer who shot Meniefield as Robert Marks, a ten year veteren of the Sheriffs Department. According to the report, Marks and officer Dion Davis had entered into the abandoned apartment, while patrolling through the complex. Marks had aimed his flashlight at Meniefield and another man, who both had their hands up. Meniefield raised his hands higher, and the officer fired a single shot from three to five feet away. After completing the investigation, Lohman and other sheriff officers had met with Meniefield’s family at Trinity Baptist Church to discuss where the investigation would go from there. The report will be sent to the District Attorneys office where a team of prosecutors will decide whether to file criminal charges against Marks. The coroner’s office, which falls under the jurisdiction of the Sheriff’s Department will release its findings in a review next week. An internal affairs investigation into whether Marks violated any departmental policies during the shooting, is ongoing. He has returned to work, outside Moreno Valley.
Marks worked for five years in patrol, and had been assigned to the Moreno Valley Mall substation. In 1999, he was nominated for “officer of the year.” Davis had been assigned for the past eight years in the Community Officer Problem Solving division, and had worked as an instructor on bicyle patrolling at the Ben Clarks Training Center.
Another meeting took place, where area ministers met with representatives from the Moreno Valley Police Department including Police Chief Richard Coz. One minister said to Coz, “We have taught our kids to raise their hands when they run into police. Now one has been shot. What are we supposed to tell them now,” he said. Butler left the meeting early, because he felt that the ministers had been more sympathetic to the feelings of the officers rather than those of the family whose son is dead. “To be shot in a surrendering position is unacceptable,” he said. He said he would continue to support the family, and protest vigorously. Also, he stressed the importance of creating an independent form of civilian review.
Butler said that people living in the apartment complexes in the Edgemont area, have had problems being harassed by several Moreno Valley officers including Davis. Several community members verified that it had worsened in recent months, and one woman, Ruth Pascal had complained to city officials about these officers. Initially, there was confusion as to who shot Meniefield, according to Butler. Two people who lived in the area where the shooting took place, said they had thought that Davis had fired the shot, but were told by the police they were mistaken.
The federal government has initiated an investigation, according to a letter sent by Michael Gennaco, director of the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division’s western regional office.
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