We had a server outage, and we're rebuilding the site. Most of the site features won't work. Thank you for your patience.
imc indymedia

Los Angeles Indymedia : Activist News

white themeblack themered themetheme help
About Us Contact Us Calendar Publish RSS
Features
latest news
best of news
syndication
commentary


KILLRADIO

VozMob

ABCF LA

A-Infos Radio

Indymedia On Air

Dope-X-Resistance-LA List

LAAMN List




IMC Network:

Original Cities

www.indymedia.org africa: ambazonia canarias estrecho / madiaq kenya nigeria south africa canada: hamilton london, ontario maritimes montreal ontario ottawa quebec thunder bay vancouver victoria windsor winnipeg east asia: burma jakarta japan korea manila qc europe: abruzzo alacant andorra antwerpen armenia athens austria barcelona belarus belgium belgrade bristol brussels bulgaria calabria croatia cyprus emilia-romagna estrecho / madiaq euskal herria galiza germany grenoble hungary ireland istanbul italy la plana liege liguria lille linksunten lombardia london madrid malta marseille nantes napoli netherlands nice northern england norway oost-vlaanderen paris/Île-de-france patras piemonte poland portugal roma romania russia saint-petersburg scotland sverige switzerland thessaloniki torun toscana toulouse ukraine united kingdom valencia latin america: argentina bolivia chiapas chile chile sur cmi brasil colombia ecuador mexico peru puerto rico qollasuyu rosario santiago tijuana uruguay valparaiso venezuela venezuela oceania: adelaide aotearoa brisbane burma darwin jakarta manila melbourne perth qc sydney south asia: india mumbai united states: arizona arkansas asheville atlanta austin baltimore big muddy binghamton boston buffalo charlottesville chicago cleveland colorado columbus dc hawaii houston hudson mohawk kansas city la madison maine miami michigan milwaukee minneapolis/st. paul new hampshire new jersey new mexico new orleans north carolina north texas nyc oklahoma philadelphia pittsburgh portland richmond rochester rogue valley saint louis san diego san francisco san francisco bay area santa barbara santa cruz, ca sarasota seattle tampa bay tennessee urbana-champaign vermont western mass worcester west asia: armenia beirut israel palestine process: fbi/legal updates mailing lists process & imc docs tech volunteer projects: print radio satellite tv video regions: oceania united states topics: biotech

Surviving Cities

www.indymedia.org africa: canada: quebec east asia: japan europe: athens barcelona belgium bristol brussels cyprus germany grenoble ireland istanbul lille linksunten nantes netherlands norway portugal united kingdom latin america: argentina cmi brasil rosario oceania: aotearoa united states: austin big muddy binghamton boston chicago columbus la michigan nyc portland rochester saint louis san diego san francisco bay area santa cruz, ca tennessee urbana-champaign worcester west asia: palestine process: fbi/legal updates process & imc docs projects: radio satellite tv
printable version - js reader version - view hidden posts - tags and related articles

A journey through Riverside Police Department's Internal Affairs: the coverup

by mary shelton Sunday, May. 13, 2001 at 7:58 AM
chicalocaside

After filing the complaint with Internal Affairs, I waited months for a response. What I finally got, was a phone call from one of my witnesses, that one of the involved officers was trying to contact him, with questions. And when I contacted the department with my concerns about this officer's interference in the investigation, I received the most shocking words so far, that he had been assigned by the field captain to investigate the complaint.

errorThe turmoil of 1999 merged into the more tranquil days of the new millennium, as the weekly demonstrations came to a halt, and activists returned to their daily lives that had been put on hold, when they had picked up the mantle for justice, and marched for over a year. A feeling of quiet resignation had settled over the city, under siege since the shooting that was heard around the world. Federal and state investigations of the police department continued, with no word of how much longer there was to wait, until the results were announced to an increasingly apathetic populace.

The negative peace, was broken in mid -January by the announcement that nine white male sergeants from the police department had been secretly negotiating with the city, to receive promotions they felt had been denied them, and given instead to two men of color and a white woman. Led by the officer associations president, Jay Theuer, the contingent of angry white men filed grievances with the city citing reverse discrimination. In reponse, city officials had considered creating new lieutenant positions for three of the white men, and to pay off the remainder, to avoid a court battle. Chief Jerry Carroll had gotten wind of the negotiations when City Manager John Holmes was undergoing his semiannual performance evaluation by the City Council, and was furious, at how his authority as chief, was being thwarted, by the citys attempt to avoid the embarrassment of such a law suit, during a time when it was under a microscope. And that his power to promote officers of his choice, was being called into question, by both the city and the officers closest to him,in rank.

After Carroll had promoted Ron Orrantia, a Hispanic officer, Alex Tortes, an American Indian and Meredyth Meredith, a white woman to fill lieutenant positions, two captains, Richard Dana and Mike Blakely had gone to the head of Human Resources, Judith Griffith, to complain that the process was discriminatory, according to reports. Not entirely incorrect, as historically the promotion procedure had proved far more beneficial to white men, than to white women or people of color. Four captains, all white men, had submitted a list of candidates to the chief that did not include any people of color at the top. One captain had also reported that Carroll had said in a meeting that he felt he had to promote one individual, because he was black, even though that person actually was Indian. Many other people felt that since these officers especially Tortes(one of the few officers most community members trusted) were far more experienced than any of the white candidates, they deserved to be promoted. At months end, the city had decided to not settle with the officers, and Chief Jerry Carroll tendered his retirement. The fourth chief of police to be ousted by his subjects in less than 10 years for disobedience. His name had never even been painted on the glass door of the departments main headquarters, and then he was gone. And the city once again launched a search nationwide for a replacement.


As the department recoiled from the promotion scandal, another embarrassing revelation emerged. The police officers associations vice-president, Bill Rhetts had pursued a registered sex offender into a dog house, and even though the man was unarmed, blew his leg off. An incident that might not have gathered much attention, except for the fact that Rhetts was already under internal investigation for several other incidents. The first involved a racial joke he had told some less experienced officers, about the death of Tyisha Miller. His exact words, were in L.A. they treat you like a King. In Riverside, its Miller time. At the time that revelation broke through the ennui of the local newspaper, he was representing the Association on a committee researching improved models of civilian oversight that had been set up in response to Millers death. After being confronted by community activists at a meeting, he quietly resigned from that committee. The investigation into that joke, lasted at least nine months, with no resolution in sight. Yes, he had made the comment, but the investigators were grappling with the task of deciding exactly what he meant by it.

The bigger controversy surrounding Rhetts, an ex-LAPD officer who had worked in some of its toughest divisions and had once been partnered with Rafael Perezs partner in crime, David Mack, was his controversial web site(http://www.linkline.com/personal/billrhetts). Homophobic in content, it contained essays that advocated using force to exert Gods wrath against sinners, and non-Christians. He scribed letters praising the hiring of Tyisha Miller shooter, Paul Bugar, by San Bernardino Sheriff, Gary Penrod, and criticizing the diversity training program for law enforcement officers at the Simon Weisenthal museum in Los Angeles. This letter, had been a topic of discussion on radio stations such as KPFK, much to the departments chagrin. Community members were pressuring then Interim Chief, Robert Luman to do something about Rhetts, who already had at least three officer-involved shootings underneath his belt, and was known for embracing people he had shot, in forgiveness. The last straw occurred when was revealed that Internal Affairs Detective Skip Showwaters essay on the shooting of an officer was posted on Rhetts sight, Luman finally decided to view the web site, and later assured community activists that Rhetts somehow would be let go, without getting into specifics, as required by state law.

While all this turmoil shook the department to its foundation, District Attorney Grover Trask announced that 20 protesters involved with the shutdown of the 91 freeway would be indicted for assorted misdemeanors. The law enforcement agency that had jurisdiction in this matter, the California Highway Patrol, had foisted off the criminal investigation to the Riverside Police Departments Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Division which had pushed for prosecution of these activists. So the year for these chosen individuals that was to be spent inside courtrooms was about to begin. Tyisha Millers killers would never see the inside of a courtroom.

I tried to encourage other activists to file complaints with Internal Affairs in relation to Retaliatory Monday, but they demurred, saying that they did not want to waste time with an agency that would investigate itself, and justify what happened on Retaliatory Monday. I agreed that dealing with Internal Affairs most likely was a waste of time, but said that whatever the department decided, I wanted it on paper. If they chose to justify the force used at that rally, and the selection of white male activists to be ticketed, I wanted it in writing. If the department tried to sell me the song and dance that yes, the SWAT team does routinely use force to issue traffic citations to the public, I wanted it in writing.

And so after waiting weeks, to get photographs enlarged and my statement in order, I filed it with the police department, with the stipulation that Detective Showwater, not be assigned to investigate it. Members of the Gay and Lesbian community had informed me that Showwater shared the homophobic viewpoints of his friend, Rhetts, and they had unpleasant experiences with him while trying to enfranchise gays in the ultra-conservative nest of Redlands, the city which housed a large number of police officers, attracted by its white middle-class neighborhoods.

Internal Affairs was headed by Lt. Robert Meier, though all the officers called him Bobby. Or at least every officer, I ever encountered. A few months previously, he had led a SWAT team into City Hall, to apprehend Joseph Neal, a black former city employee who had shot the mayor and several city council members, and taken them hostage. Meier had headed Internal Affairs for three years, longer than the usual stint.

I received a phone call from his office, several weeks after submitting my complaint, and walked to the station. He spoke to me, in the hallway, despite the presense of two detectives who had spent months following the Tyisha Miller protesters, with camcorders. The topic of conversation had little to do with my complaint, but instead dealt with the incident involving an officers apparent refusal to take a police report regarding the racist fliers. He wanted a copy of the flier, obviously thinking I would not be able to produce a copy. I called his bluff, and produced a copy, and pictures of the fliers posted on several traffic poles, and dropped it off the next day. Before I left, he assured me that as soon as one of his sergeants closed out a case, he would handle mine. When I walked out, I heard a masculine voice boisterously shout, Yo, Bobby, how ya doin So much for the separation of Internal Affairs from the rest of the department, I thought.

Weeks went by, and I become more preoccupied with getting arraigned and making court appearances, than with a complaint I figured would never be fairly investigated anyway. Hiring and then losing an attorney, to an untimely suspension by the state bar, and dealing with arrogant baby prosecutors kept me busy, as did the responsibilities of my life. Of all the white activists ticketed by the SWAT team, only one paid his ticket. The rest of the cases, were dropped, though activist Larry Halstead had his temporarily bumped up to a misdemeanor, that trailed his freeway case.

May became June, and June, July. No word from the police department even though they are suppose to dispose of cases within 60 days. Well, more days than that had come and gone, and my witnesses still had not been contacted, for interviews by the department. I did receive the usual form letter sent out to discourage people from filing complaints by telling them that the alleged misconduct was all in their head, and that the vast majority of contacts between officers and civilians are positive. I tossed it in the trash, where it belonged.

On July 27, all that changed. Gallegoes, the artist who had been the target of the SWAT team that day, called me and said that Lt. Orrantia had phoned him, asking to talk with him. Gallegoes refused to return his call, remembering the day, that four officers had held him, while he received a citation, and that Orrantia had been standing nearby, watching. He had been incensed when he read articles about the crackdown in the newspaper, and Orrantia had defended the use of force, as necessary for his safety. As I hung up, I asked myself, what the hell is an officer on my complaint trying to do by contacting my witnesses? Is he trying to intimidate them, to persuade them not to give their statements? I called the police department, and left a message for Meier, even though I knew that by 10am in the morning, every lieutenant and captain had already left for lunch, and it would never be returned.

Gallegos called me again several days, and told me that Orrantia had contacted his mother at 10:30 one night and asked questions about her son. A half hour later, a squad car parked in front of her house, and Detective Steve Lee knocked on her door. Gallegos mother answered, and Lee asked to speak to Gallegos, on behalf of Orrantia. The woman was scared, and told the officer, she had always taught her son not to run away from police and to do what they said. Lee said, that Gallegos was not in trouble, but he needed to talk with him. Lee left, and got back into his squad car with another officer, and they remained parked in front of the house, for about 20 minutes, before leaving.

I contacted Meier again, and also acting Police Chief Michael Smith, a 30 year veteren of the department who had desperately sought the chief spot, but so far it had eluded him. He had applied for the job, during the citys national search, and had reached the final three. I asked them, why my witness was being contacted by Orrantia, one of the officers whom the complaint was filed against. I said, that someone needed to tell him to back off.

Two days later, I received my answer in the form of a phone message left by the departments field captain, Audrey Wilson, but her matter-of-fact words shocked me, as she informed me that the complaint had been referred to her office by Meier, and she had made the decision to assign Orrantia to investigate it.
Report this post as:
Share on: Twitter, Facebook, Google+

add your comments


Local News

Woolsey Fire: Worst News of 2018? J01 12:18AM

Oppose Environmentally-Harmful Development D10 4:03AM

Oppose Environmentally-Harmful Development D10 3:58AM

OUR HOUSE Grief Support Center Presents Night for Hope O30 5:38PM

Marshall Tuck’s racist dog whistle O27 5:01AM

Marshall Tuck’s ethnocentrism contradicts Californian values O27 4:32AM

Contra Costa-Hawkins O25 3:48AM

Debunking Some Anti-Prop 10 Propaganda O12 6:56AM

Why Should California Choose De Leon Over Feinstein? O10 9:55PM

Change Links September 2018 posted S02 10:22PM

More Scandals Rock Southern California Nuke Plant San Onofre A30 11:09PM

Site Outage Friday A30 3:49PM

Change Links August 2018 A14 1:56AM

Setback for Developer of SC Farm Land A12 11:09PM

More problems at Shutdown San Onofre Nuke J29 10:40PM

Change Links 2018 July posted J09 8:27PM

More Pix: "Families Belong Together," Pasadena J02 7:16PM

"Families Belong Together" March, Pasadena J02 7:08PM

Short Report on the Families Belong Together Protest in Los Angeles J30 11:26PM

Summer 2018 National Immigrant Solidarity Network News Alert! J11 6:58AM

More Local News...

Other/Breaking News

Judge Delays Ruling on Puerto Rico Debt Deal White House Opposes Island's Food Assistance J18 6:04PM

BATACLOWNS J18 9:28AM

FALSAS VICTIMAS J18 9:22AM

Paraphysique de proxémie guerrière J18 7:59AM

MACROTHSCHILD J17 9:38PM

FARCELONA 8.17.2017 J17 3:23PM

DEAD MAN LIVING J17 10:46AM

DIARY OF A CON MAN J16 10:40PM

PR Debt Cancel, Judge Reviews Cofina Debt J16 9:04PM

Réseautage, fragmentation du capital J16 4:20PM

Paraphysique de manipulation mentale et sociale J15 9:51AM

The Global Justice Project and Human Survival: We're Badly Off Track J15 5:08AM

The Global Justice Project and Human Survival: We're Badly Off Track J15 5:08AM

The Global Justice Project and Human Survival: We're Badly Off Track J15 5:08AM

Markets as a Fetish, Globalization, and Dissent Management J14 1:03PM

State Debts - The Primal German Fear J13 5:09PM

Sans liberté, sans égalité, sans fraternité J13 8:09AM

From Progressive Neoliberalism to Trump - and Beyond J12 9:22PM

Copper Cures Cancer J11 1:42PM

Steven Taylor, Investor who Evicts J11 9:24AM

Du sectarisme, des sectes, des clans J11 8:10AM

“Animaniacs in Concert!” Starring Voice Legend Rob Paulsen J10 6:34PM

Patrick Kilpatrick discusses and signs Dying for Living J09 11:51PM

SexActs vs Sexuality USA 2018 Invitations to Power Marriages without Affection J09 8:36PM

Changer de mentalité, changer de société J09 9:17AM

Teacher Strike? Time for Labor Studies J09 6:26AM

December 2018 Honduras Coup Update J08 10:12PM

Paraphysique de la désespérance J07 9:38AM

More Breaking News...
© 2000-2018 Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Unless otherwise stated by the author, all content is free for non-commercial reuse, reprint, and rebroadcast, on the net and elsewhere. Opinions are those of the contributors and are not necessarily endorsed by the Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Running sf-active v0.9.4 Disclaimer | Privacy