Some 200 demonstrators rally exterior Metropolis Corridor in San Rafael, Calif. on Sunday, Sept. 4, 2022, to protest an arrest that injured a person within the Canal space. (Alan Dep/Marin Unbiased Journal)
As San Rafael continues to clamor for solutions on a bloody arrest within the Canal neighborhood in July, town has employed a communications agency to assist the San Rafael Police Division burnish its public relations.
In doing so, town has pushed its doable consulting expenditures nicely into six figures.
The town had already employed personal investigators to look into doable misconduct within the July 27 arrest of Julio Jimenez Lopez, in addition to an accountability knowledgeable to seek the advice of on town’s neighborhood outreach since video of the arrest got here to mild.
In December, town additionally introduced on a “transparency engagement” advisory agency for the police division and dedicated to pay as much as $42,000. The agency, Cole Professional Media of Vacaville, advertises itself as a gaggle of consultants in “disaster communications” and “social media administration.”
In response to its contract, Cole Professional agreed to satisfy twice month-to-month for “communication technique periods,” write “high-profile transparency information releases and speaking factors,” assist officers “with on-camera prep for interviews and finest quotes and soundbites that concentrate on transparency” and coach the division on social media technique.
“It’s customary observe for police departments to depend on consultants for some communications work,” stated San Rafael police Lt. Scott Eberle. “Our officers put on a number of hats and it’s common to lean on the consultants to assist with communication.”
Jimenez Lopez, 37, has filed a declare in opposition to town, saying law enforcement officials Brandon Nail and Daisy Mazariegos precipitated him “life-altering,” “catastrophic private accidents.”
The declare alleges assault, battery, negligence, false arrest, false imprisonment, intentional infliction of emotional misery, unreasonable search and seizure and extreme power by police. It additionally alleges failures by town to correctly display, rent, prepare, supervise or self-discipline law enforcement officials.
Mazariegos and Nail initially approached Jimenez Lopez and different males as a result of they’d open containers of alcohol. Jimenez Lopez was tackled by police after a back-and-forth about presenting identification and remaining seated on a curb.
In his declare, Jimenez Lopez stated he suffered a damaged nostril and traumatic mind damage, amongst different accidents. Physique-worn digital camera footage from the arrest exhibits his face lined in blood.
In reviews Mazariegos and Nail filed that day, they alleged Jimenez Lopez tried to place Nail in a headlock. It was the premise for a felony arrest, based on Mazariegos’ report.
The Marin County District Lawyer’s Workplace initially filed a felony case in opposition to Jimenez Lopez, however determined to not pursue it after reviewing footage from the arrest.
The district legal professional’s workplace remains to be investigating whether or not to cost the officers, who stay on paid administrative go away. In a press release on Feb. 24, District Lawyer Lori Frugoli stated the case is “a prime precedence for my workplace.”
“We will probably be clear concerning the outcomes of this course of as quickly as a conclusion is reached,” she stated.
Individually, Unbiased Investigative Consultants of Windsor, led by former Santa Rosa police lieutenant Paul Henry, is answerable for town’s administrative assessment of the incident. The town employed Henry’s agency in September.
The town agreed to pay Henry’s agency $200 per hour for the investigation, plus $75 per hour for transcription and $250 per hour for court docket proceedings, in the event that they had been to come up. The contract didn’t specify a most value.
Henry has since “accomplished all the witness interviews that he was capable of get hold of,” Metropolis Lawyer Rob Epstein informed the council on Feb. 21. “These included compelled statements from all the concerned officers.”
Charles Dresow, the lawyer for Jimenez Lopez, stated his shopper was not a part of that investigation.
“The body-worn digital camera footage speaks for itself,” Dresow stated. “It serves no function for my shopper to undergo an interview with town of San Rafael.”
Henry is anticipated to ship his report back to police Chief David Spiller this month, Epstein stated, however the report may not grow to be public except it meets sure standards. The standards may embrace a discovering by Henry that officers used unreasonable or extreme power, made false statements, didn’t intervene in opposition to extreme power or precipitated “nice bodily damage” to Jimenez Lopez.
In any other case, “the overall rule underneath the legislation is non-disclosure of such reviews as a result of worker’s proper to privateness,” Epstein stated in an e-mail.
Dresow stated law enforcement officials had hit each single a kind of factors.
“Solely a metropolis involved with minimizing their legal responsibility would fail to right away acknowledge and admit the misconduct by the SRPD on this case after watching the video,” Dresow stated.
Because the investigations have unfolded, police and different metropolis officers have arrange neighborhood boards facilitated, partially, by Francine Tournour, the inspector common for Sacramento County who beforehand labored as a deputy sheriff in Contra Costa County and helped run Sacramento’s Workplace of Public Security Accountability.
Tournour’s $250-per-hour contract with San Rafael from September topped out at $25,000, however the metropolis agreed in January to rent her once more for as much as one other $40,000.
Tournour stated that communication between the police division and the neighborhood it serves is paramount and, whereas there may be room for enchancment, the division and metropolis “are very open to doing what’s needed to construct and in addition keep the connection.”
Residents dropping in on the neighborhood conferences have wished to debate the Jimenez Lopez case, however, given the continued investigations, officers have stated there’s little they will say on the matter.
“However there generally is a dialog between the police division and the neighborhood round a few of the issues that led as much as that, a few of the relationship gaps that had been current,” Tournour stated. “The incident is finished, the investigation is pending, however the relationship is one thing that must be constructed and maintained.”
In demonstrations and public conferences because the movies first surfaced, residents have expressed outrage not simply on the arrest itself but additionally what they see as overpolicing of town’s immigrant and lower-income communities.
“The police division has to consider a few of the generational trauma that these relations, or neighborhood members, convey with them from the place they arrive from,” Tournour stated. “It’s only a matter of not at all times assuming everybody respects your place and your profession, and understanding methods to navigate these conversations with individuals who do have points.”
One other neighborhood discussion board is scheduled for six p.m. Wednesday on the Albert J. Boro Neighborhood Heart at Pickleweed Park, or by teleconference. Epstein stated Spiller would search suggestions on draft applications developed with Tournour’s assist.
Some residents, and Dresow as nicely, have accused town of dragging its ft.
“The town of San Rafael can both do the fitting factor for my shopper, and the fitting factor for rebuilding belief with the neighborhood, or they will proceed alongside, enterprise as normal, and attempt to age this case into oblivion and hope the neighborhood forgets about it,” Dresow stated. “The neighborhood isn’t going to neglect what occurred to my shopper, and the neighborhood continues to demand motion and alter.”