Here is information on Gregory Preece's role in the events that occured before, during and after the shooting of Tyisha Miller, by four Riverside Police Department officers on Dec. 28, 1998. It is based on a 42 page finding issued by Arbitrator John D. Perone.
Preece had been fired in July 1999 for violating nine policies and procedures during his role as supervisor at the scene, and for the usuage of racial slurs. The arbitrator overturned his job termination, stating that instead he should have been demoted and suspended for 30 days without pay.
In the early morning hours of December 28, 1998, Preece was eating a meal with officers Michal Alagna and Wayne Stewart, at a McDonalds restaurant, three and a half miles away from the gas station. At 1:52 am, a 9-11 phone call came in and Daniel Hotard along with Paul Bugar were on their way to the scene. Alagna and Stewart told Preece, they were on their way there too, and left. Preece left the restaurant in his squad car, and used the Mobile Digital Terminal to learn more about the dispatch call. He discovered that Tyisha Miller was unresponsive inside a locked car, with the music on loud and a gun onl her lap. According to the records, Bugar arrived on scene first at 2:00am, with Alagna arriving at 2:02 and Stewart at 2:03. About that time, Preece entered his code, saying he was on his way to the station, and entered his arrival code at 2:06 am, even though he later said he was actually a mile away at that time.
Preece testified that he saw the four officers standing around the car, with their weapons drawn. Preece talked with Miller's two cousins for 10 seconds and then went to stand with officer Ray Soto, while the four officers were implementing their plan to break a window on the driver's side and grab the gun. Hotard broke the window, and stuck his body inside. The first shots were allegedly fired, when one of the officers said he saw Miller reach through the gun, and at least 24 shots followed, according to testimony. Preece said that he yelled 'watch your crossfire' though testimony differed as to exactly where he yelled it from.
After the shooting, Preece testified that he called the officers to where he was standing next to Soto's squad car, which was 10 feet to the rear of Miller's car. Two officers were sent to check if Miller was alive, but she was dead. Family members began gathering at the scene, and began yelling 'murderer' at the police officers at the station, according to the report. Preece ordered Hotard to take pictures of the scene. Bugar cordoned off the area with tape. Stewart and Alagna marked shell gun casings. Curious behavior, given that this was a crime scene, and they could be considered criminal suspects, down the line. The Department later argued that their assignment would 'taint or prejudice' the evidence, something Preece should have realized.
David Hackman was dispatched to the station, and he made reference to Preece about the angry crowd that had gathered. Preece said, 'This doesn't look good. This is going to run their Kwanzaa.' The remark was overheard by former officer Rene Rodriguez who reported it to Internal Affairs, three months later, and was harassed into early retirement for his actions. Preece also referred to Miller, as 'that fucking bitch.' Preece's explanation was to his experiences at prior shootings where he might have called a female officer, a bitch. He may have used a term directed at Miller. Sgt. Darryl Hurt, an African American, defended Preece's words in his testimony, by stating that Preece was not a bigot but relieving extreme stress through "gallows humor."
(to be continued)