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by Mary Shelton
Wednesday, Mar. 13, 2002 at 9:53 AM
After three years of investigating, the U.S. Attorneys office plans to announce its decision on whether to file charges against the four officers who killed Tyisha Miller. But if the news is good, why all the cloak and dagger behavior regarding where to make this announcement, and to whom?
Wednesday, the U.S. Attorneys office will release a decision on whether or not to file criminal charges against the four former Riverside Police Department officers who shot Tyisha Miller to death in December 1998.
Interium U.S. Attorney John Gordon, who took over the case from his predecessor Alejandro Mayorkis, was unable for comment in terms of what the office has decided, but the fact that the Department of Justice had dispatched its Community Relations representative, Vermont McKinney to Riverside last week sent a loud message to community members that the justice that they have sought for three years, will continue to elude them.
McKinney, who formerly worked out of the Los Angeles CR office, was a mainstay in Riverside, where the shooting was protested for over a year, culminating in the Nov. 1, 1999 prayer vigil held on the 91 freeway. In 2000, he took over as regional director of Community Relations in Philedelphia. According to Miller?s cousin, Bernell Butler, Mckinney was dispatched to Riverside last week, because he was familiar with Riverside and its communities.
Butler said that first, the U.S. Attorneys will relay the news to Miller?s relatives, then hold a meeting with the Tyisha Miller Steering Committee afterwards. A press conference is scheduled for noon. He said that the U.S. Attorneys did not want to release the location because they needed to find a place that would be secured. From what, that is for the U.S. Attorneys to answer.
The U.S. Attorney?s decision is laced with irony, considering that only months ago, the four officers were finally disposed by the attorneys who represent Miller?s family, in a counter suit filed against them by the four officers. And according to an unnamed source, the unity that existed between the four men has cracked, and the stories have begun to change. The depositions taken are currently protected under a court order.
Last month, an arbitrator ordered the city of Riverside to return two of the officers, Wayne Stewart and Michael Alagna back to work by April 30, or file an appeal of the decision in Superior Court. The remaining officers, Paul Bugar and Daniel Hotard were unable to participate in arbitration because they were still on probation when fired by the police department, and have filed a wrongful termination law suit in Superior Court. Supervising sergeant, Gregory Preece, who was also fired, has won his job back, as his discipline was changed to a demotion and a 30-day unpaid suspension. Both the city and Preece are appealing that decision.
The city is still discussing in closed sessions whether to appeal the arbitrator?s decision regarding Stewart and Alagna.
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