RECORDINGS AND DOCUMENTS SUGGEST RESPONSIBILITY FOR OBSTRUCTING PANDORA’S BOX MAY LIE WITH LASD HIGHER-UPS, INDICTMENTS LOOMING
Last year, seven members of the LA County Sheriff’s Department were convicted of obstruction of justice for hiding FBI informant Anthony Brown from his federal handlers. (Backstory here, here, and here.)
New court documents and FBI recordings obtained by ABC7’s Lisa Bartley once again suggest that fault may lie higher up in the LASD chain of command.
In the recordings, an indignant then-Sheriff Lee Baca can be heard loudly accusing the FBI of breaking the law by sending a phone into the jail. Upset that he was kept out of the loop while the feds investigated reports of abuse and corruption in Men’s Central Jail, Baca launched his own investigation into the matter.
Sources have told WLA that more indictments could come as soon as this month or next.
Here are some clips from Bartley’s story (but go over to ABC7 and watch the video):
SHERIFF LEROY BACA: The FBI doesn’t have a right to break the law!
At the heart of this case is Baca’s anger: How could the feds infiltrate HIS jail and go after HIS deputies, without telling Baca himself? Baca fervently believed the FBI had broken the law by setting up a sting that led a corrupt deputy to smuggle a cellphone into the jail and to inmate-turned-FBI informant Anthony Brown. Undersheriff Paul Tanaka told FBI agents about the angry phone call he received from Baca.
UNDERSHERIFF PAUL TANAKA: I just remember him being mad, mad, mad! A lot of colorful language – just mad! And – you find out that F-ing phone, you get that phone you hold onto that phone. I don’t want it to leave our custody!
Baca convenes a high-level Saturday meeting. Despite FBI Assistant Director Steve Martinez telling him that the phone was part of a legitimate, authorized FBI operation, Baca wants an investigation of his own. How did the phone get into jail? Who is responsible?
It’s NOT a crime, because it’s all part of a sanctioned, undercover operation by the FBI. Still, Baca issues the order: No one can get into see inmate Anthony Brown without permission from Undersheriff Paul Tanaka.
In the days and weeks to come, Anthony Brown is hidden from the FBI – his name is changed and computer records are falsified. The sheriff’s department puts Brown’s FBI handler Special Agent Leah Marx under surveillance and later threatens her with arrest.
Two sergeants harassed and threatened to arrest Special Agent Leah Marx, Brown’s federal handler, outside of her home (more about that here).
Baca told federal investigators that he was unaware that “we have an interest in arresting an FBI agent. That…strikes me as extreme.”
Yet, Captain Tom Carey testified that he, Baca, Lieutenant Steve Leavins and Paul Tanaka met prior to the incident, to discuss what to do about Special Agent Marx. According to Carey, Baca said “Just don’t put handcuffs on her.”
KEEPING IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS ON A “CLOUD” SYSTEM FOR KIDS INVOLVED IN BOTH JUVENILE JUSTICE AND FOSTER CARE SYSTEMS
The Sierra Health Foundation, in collaboration with ZeroDivide, are working to create what they are calling “electronic backpacks” for California’s dual-status foster kids (kids who are involved in both the child welfare and juvenile justice systems).
Dual-status (or “crossover”) kids often face trauma, neglect, and instability. And communication between agencies serving dual status kids, including school districts, can be patchy or nonexistent, making it hard for kids to access important services and enroll in school.
The “electronic backpacks” would allow kids to easily access their important documents (like birth certificates, proof of vaccination, and school records) from computers and mobile devices anywhere, by storing them on a “cloud” system.
Health Affairs’ McCrae A. Parker and Matt Cervantes have more on the effort, which is part of the foundation’s Positive Youth Justice Initiative. Here’s how it opens:
“And despite all best intentions, when youth leave the foster care system as adults, they are typically only given a sheaf of papers that detail their complicated histories. These records are easily lost and usually incomplete, which often creates burdens these young adults must carry for life.” –Wendy Lazarus, Founder and Co-President of the Children’s Partnership
Over the past year, ZeroDivide has collaborated with Sierra Health Foundation to serve as a thought partner in the integration of technology into the foundation’s Positive Youth Justice Initiative, which aims to create a major shift in California’s juvenile justice practice and policy at the county level. The initiative focuses on crossover youth—that is, young people with histories of neglect, abuse, trauma, and engagement in the child welfare system, who currently are involved with county juvenile justice systems.
As part of our exploration of promising practices in the use of technology in the juvenile justice and child welfare systems, we discovered the “electronic backpacks.”
The central idea behind the electronic backpack is that a youth’s important life documents, medical records, and program reports “live” on an easily accessible, secure, “cloud” system. For crossover youth, the design, use, and adoption of the electronic backpack concept can potentially lead to better coordinated services and outcomes. Mobile technology provides a greater level of access to critical intervention and service records for youth, their families, and their friends or supportive adults.
Crossover youth are in particular need because of interaction with two systems (child welfare and juvenile justice), and the delay and withholding of services that they may experience without specific documents. For example, a youth who arrives at a new group home placement may have difficulty registering at his or her new school without vaccination records. With an electronic backpack, this issue can be eliminated.
STEVE LOPEZ: MAYOR AND LAPD CHIEF SHOULD HAVE ATTENDED TOWN HALL MEETING ABOUT BRENDON GLENN’S DEATH AT THE HANDS OF POLICE
In his column, LA Times’ Steve Lopez wrote that, by not attending a Venice town hall meeting to discuss the recent shooting death of an unarmed homeless man by a police officer, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck and LA Mayor Eric Garcetti missed an important opportunity to show that Brendon Glenn’s death mattered. Here’s a clip:
When Ezell Ford was shot and killed by police last August in South Los Angeles, Beck and other top LAPD brass went into full damage control mode, meeting with a crowd of concerned citizens at Paradise Baptist Church.
Does Venice not matter as much as South L.A.?
Does Brendon Glenn not matter as much as Ezell Ford, both of them black, and both of them unarmed?
If City Hall wanted to send a message that these shootings matter, two people in particular should have gone to that meeting together Thursday night.
“Where is the mayor?” Mike Neely, a commissioner with the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, asked from outside the standing-room-only Venice meeting. “Where is the chief of police?”
They were missing in action, that’s where they were.
The first matter the city needs to attend to is the police killing of an unarmed man. That in itself is worthy of the police chief’s and mayor’s attention…
But figuring out why Brendon Glenn was killed is only a small beginning. The next step is to address the underlying failures that foster these killings and so many other woes…
Being a cop isn’t easy, particularly when you’re asked to deal with the fallout from the city’s failure to help people off the streets and into services that can transform their lives, make neighborhoods safer and even deliver a savings to taxpayers.
A scuffle broke out near the Venice promenade, police were summoned, they wrestled with the suspect, and Brendon Glenn — said to have been intoxicated — ended up dead.
It happens too often.
Chronic homelessness is rampant in Venice. The first thing to consider, when there’s a call about a disturbance near the boardwalk, is that it might involve someone who is homeless, mentally ill and/or addicted. The situation might call for backup help, or one of the mental health/police units, or use of a disabling, less lethal weapon than a gun.
And yet, here we are once again, with police as the designated default agency when it comes to homelessness.
FATHERS OF TWO MISSISSIPPI POLICE OFFICERS KILLED IN THE LINE OF DUTY TALK ABOUT THEIR SONS
The nation got heartbreaking news on Saturday night when it learned that two Hattiesburg, Mississippi, police officers, Liquori Tate, 25, and Benjamin J. Deen, 34, had been shot and killed during a routine traffic stop.
On Sunday morning, four suspects were arrested.
Benjamin Deen was a K-9 officer whose father, Dan Deen, told NY Daily News reporter Joel Landau, that his son, a former “officer of the year” in the department, chose his profession so he could follow in his grandfather’s footsteps.
“He was a very good cop. He loved his family, he loved his job,” he told The News. “He did his job to the best of his ability.”
Benjamin Deen was married and had two children, a 9-year-old boy and 13-year-old girl, his father said. The family is devastated by what happened, he said.
Ronald Tate, father of Liquori Tate, who was not yet a year out of the police academy, talked with CNN’s Catherine E. Shoichet about his son’s passion for policing and the way he treated those he was charged with protecting and serving.
“He had this enthusiasm, this fire in his soul, and I knew he meant that,” Ronald Tate said.
That doesn’t mean Liquori Tate didn’t know he was putting his life in danger when he joined the force.
“He really knew the risk,” Ronald Tate said, “but I think my son just thought people…are generally good people, so let’s treat them all with dignity.”
Late last week, the California Senate passed a bill that would ban grand juries from investigating officer-involved shootings and excessive use of force incidents.
Eliminating the grand jury option would give local district attorneys no choice but to handle such cases. And because DAs are elected officials, the bill supporters believe there would be a higher level of public accountability involved.
The bill, SB 227, authored by Sen. Holly Mitchell, D-LA, must next be approved by the state Assembly.
The Sacramento Bee’s Alexei Koseff has more on the bill. Here’s a clip:
Protests sprouted up nationwide last fall after grand juries in Missouri and New York declined to indict white police officers who had killed unarmed black men during confrontations. The system, in which a jury of citizens weighs the evidence to decide whether to bring charges, came under fire for its secrecy.
Sen. Holly Mitchell, D-Los Angeles, who introduced Senate Bill 227, argued that the lack of transparency and oversight in grand jury deliberations, which do not involve judges, defense attorneys or cross-examination of witnesses, did not serve the public.
“The use of the criminal grand jury has fostered an atmosphere of suspicion that threatens to compromise the nature of our justice system,” she said.