The law enforcement profession requires integrity and trust and an officer who lies violates that trust and tarnishes the integrity of the profession.
October 3, 2018 at 1:00 PM Millbrae, California, Chinedu Okoki a 36 year old man was walking down the sidewalk on El Camino Real. Within 10 minutes he was Tasered 7 times, sprayed in the face with O.C. spray as six San Mateo County Sheriff Employees were on top of him. He was completely limp, unconscious, and never made a sound again. He died there on the spot in the Custody of the Sheriff’s Office.
San Mateo County Sheriff Sergeant Zaidi was not one of the Six Sheriff Employees involved in the In-Custody Death of Chinedu Okobi. Nineteen days later, On October 22, 2018 he filed an Official Report with the District Attorney’s Office making knowingly false statements.
” I directed Deputy Lorenzatti to remove the metal handcuffs from the suspect which she did, and the suspect was placed on his back. The Fire Department and AMR promptly began CPR.”
District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe on March 1, 2019 provided a video that he and his Team produced for the public it can be found on his website. The placing Chinedu Okobi on his back and CPR starts at the 18:50 mark. The video shows Deputy Lorenzatti did Not remove the handcuffs.
SMCSO Deputy Lorenzatti made an official statement on 10/04/2018 3:50 PM. to Inspector Eric Suzuki.
“They were like, well let’s get him on his back and start CPR, So then I, you know helped em, bring him to his back.
Question? “Okay and were his Handcuffs off at that point?”
Answer: No they were still on.
Eng. #37 Mazza Statement: “When decedent was lifted onto the gurney, a police officer cadet or trainee removed the Handcuffs from the decedents wrists.”
AMR #94 Retanubun Statement: “They put the decedent on to a “Mega Mover” when noticed the decedent still had handcuffs on.” “Saw police cadet nearby who assisted them with the removal of the Handcuffs.”
AMR #37 Uhland: “So they laid the decedent on his back with the Handcuffs still on his wrists.”
AMR #94 Pham: “Decedent was on his back with Handcuffs on when he arrived.”
AMR #37 Holman: “When they rolled the decedent over to remove the Handcuffs, she noticed several scrapes on his hands and a few small abrasion on his back.” “She was unsure if the injuries were there prior or if caused by the CPR application.”
According to Wagstaffe’ Video, Chinedu Okobi was placed on his back at 18:26 mark.
CPR starts at 18:50 mark with Handcuffs On and Hands behind his back.
Handcuffs Removed at 28:47 mark after almost 10 minutes of Chest Compressions.
What caused Sheriff Sgt. Zaidi to file this Bizarre False Official Statement?
District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe’s Video and Data made public March 1, 2019
LATIMES Article June 6, 2019
Note: 300 Deputies on the list. Sheriff Alex Villanueva, has called the Brady list a “fake list” and says it was the result of corrupt investigations designed to retaliate against certain deputies.
Should deputies’ misconduct be disclosed to D.A.?
Justices seem split on ruling that bars sheriff from giving officers’ names to prosecutors.
By Maura Dolan and Maya Lau
The California Supreme Court appeared divided Wednesday over a ruling that barred the Los Angeles County sheriff from giving prosecutors the names of deputies who have committed misconduct.
During a hearing, the state high court weighed an appeal of a decision that prohibited the sheriff from giving the district attorney the names of deputies with a history of bad behavior, including lying, taking bribes, tampering with evidence, using unreasonable force or engaging in domestic violence.
By law, prosecutors are required to disclose to defendants exculpatory evidence, including information that could diminish the credibility of police officers who worked on a case.
Several justices suggested Wednesday that prosecutors need the information to fulfill their constitutional duty to disclose potentially exonerating information.
That position has been endorsed by defense lawyers, prosecutors and the California attorney general.
Justice Goodwin Liu noted that prosecutors ultimately bear liability for failing to disclose favorable evidence.
If the prosecution is unaware that such evidence exists, convictions — even valid convictions — may eventually be overturned because of a failure to disclose, he said.
“The prosecution can’t take an ostrich-like approach to this very important duty,” Liu said.
But Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye suggested that the Legislature, not the court, might want to take steps to ensure that exonerating information is disclosed to the defense.
She said one possible remedy was to give trial judges sealed lists of law enforcement officers who have a history of misconduct. The judges could review those lists privately in chambers to determine whether the officers’ records were relevant in the case and should be disclosed.
“Doesn’t delivering the list directly to the court under seal … meet the problem without intruding overtly on the officers’ privacy?” she asked.
Justice Ming W. Chin also repeatedly asked whether that path, if carved out by the Legislature or by the court in a future case, could resolve the problem.
The case before the court stems from a lawsuit filed by the L.A. deputies union to prevent former Sheriff Jim McDonnell from turning over to the district attorney about 300 names of deputies with a history of misconduct.
A divided, Los Angeles-based court of appeal ruled in 2017 that the list must be kept secret, even in pending criminal cases in which errant deputies were expected to testify.
The state high court’s decision, due in 90 days, would affect law enforcement agencies throughout the state.
The case pits the privacy rights of law enforcement officers against the constitutional duty of prosecutors to give the defense evidence that might cast doubt on a defendant’s guilt, reduce a potential sentence or diminish the credibility of prosecution witnesses.
That duty stems from a landmark 1963 U.S. Supreme Court case, Brady vs. Maryland, which said suppression of evidence favorable to the defense violated due process.
At issue is only whether the names can be turned over to prosecutors, not whether they would become public.
But the presence of the names on a list means deputies could be one step closer to having their disciplinary files scrutinized by a judge and their police work called into question during a court proceeding.
Justice Mariano-Florentino Cuellar noted that the constitutional duty to disclose evidence favorable to the defense trumps state law intended to protect the privacy of law enforcement officers. He suggested the court could “harmonize” the laws.
He called the case “very challenging,” but also noted that “the Brady responsibility is on the state.”
Justice Joshua P. Groban expressed skepticism about the union’s legal arguments.
“You are saying as long as we can bar the door and keep the law enforcement agency from sharing that with the prosecution, then there is no Brady violation?” he asked the lawyer for the union.
Justice Carol A. Corrigan noted that officers whose names were on a list would have less privacy protection than others.
But she also said that a state law intended to protect officer privacy while allowing some disclosures may be hindering the release of information a criminal defendant is entitled to under the Constitution.
Under the system in place for four decades, defense attorneys and prosecutors may ask a trial judge to review an officer’s personnel file to determine whether there is evidence that must be disclosed.
But without knowing an officer’s history, a defense lawyer may not be able to persuade the judge to undertake a review.
“There are cases in which legitimate and material evidence is eluding their review,” Corrigan said.
Justice Leondra R. Kruger asked whether there were legal safeguards that could be imposed to protect officer privacy after the names were disclosed to prosecutors.
Aimee Feinberg, representing the state attorney general, said courts could issue protective orders to ensure the officers’ names were shielded from the public.
Geoffrey S. Sheldon, who argued for Los Angeles County, said he felt “good” about how the hearing went.
“I’m cautiously optimistic that we will prevail in the case,” he said.
Judith Posner, representing the union, said she couldn’t predict the outcome.
“There were a lot of interesting and probing questions on both sides,” she said.
Police departments in at least a dozen counties, including San Francisco, Sacramento and Ventura, have had a regular practice of sending prosecutors the names of so-called Brady list officers.
California’s strict laws protecting officer personnel files — which underpinned the appellate court’s ruling for the deputies union — were dramatically altered by a new transparency law that opened up records of confirmed cases of lying and sexual misconduct by officers, as well as shootings and serious uses of force.
SB 1421, which went into effect Jan. 1, allows the public to see many of the documents at issue in the L.A. County sheriff’s case.
But the new law does not apply to the broader range of misconduct that could put an officer on a Brady list, including domestic abuse, sexual harassment, racial discrimination and bribery.
Sheriff Alex Villanueva, who ousted McDonnell in a stunning upset last fall, has called the Brady list a “fake list” and says it was the result of corrupt investigations designed to retaliate against certain deputies.
By Michael G. Stogner