In an email to his members (BELOW), Deputy Sheriff’s Association President David “DJ” Wozniak was critical of Board of Supervisor oversight, the NAACP, the Black Lives Matter movement, and citizens concerned over the 2018 Millbrae use of force death of pedestrian Chinedu Okobi, at the hands of five sheriff’s deputies. In response to Deputy Wozniak’s communication, I would ask him the following:
In your email to your organization’s body, the Deputy Sheriff’s Association (DSA), you say “I had hoped they [the Board of Supervisors] would simply ignore these anti police activists, they have not”. How interesting you would characterize concerned citizens as “anti police activists”.
When an unarmed pedestrian is confronted by and dies at the hands of your members, sheriff’s deputies, is it anti police activism, to question whether or not what had occurred was appropriate, not an instance of the unnecessary and excessive use of force, and ask for the release of videos depicting what actually occurred? Do you and your organization believe such a call for transparency and oversight is inappropriate? It would seem so.
BOS Meeting 12/4/2018 Public Comment at 8:50 mark
And when you incredulously single out San Mateo County Supervisors Groom and Pine as having given these “activists” an audience, are you frustrated that they would dare to exercise any sort of oversight, in an incident involving the the death of a person at your member’s hands? Again, it would appear so.
In singling out these supervisors to your body, are you trying to communicate your ire and influence their conduct? In short, are you trying to sanction them? If so, I believe you have lost sight of the relationship the sheriff’s office, your membership, and the Board of Supervisors enjoy.
The Board of Supervisors have an oversight function with all County departments, their respective efficiency, missions, conduct, behavior, etc.. Though the Sheriff is the head of your department, its funding, resources, standards of conduct, and staffing levels are all subject to the control and oversight of the board.
And when you say “the decision to deploy Tasers is not made by the Board of Supervisors, it is the decision of the Sheriff” coupled with your assertion that you have had numerous conversations with Sheriff Carlos Bolanos, on the issue, are you saying he, Bolanos, is representing anything different to you?
And while we are on the subject of, what appears to be, your unfettered access to Sheriff Bolanos and conversations with him about this incident, death of pedestrian Okobi, I have to say his public presence, on this issue, is nonexistent and he appears to be ducking public scrutiny. I can’t help but remember how he ducked questions about his 2007 detention, at a residence in a seedy part of Las Vegas, by the FBI and Police, in a human trafficking investigation -one in which he had been detained, along with other patrons, at an illegal whorehouse, featuring Asian indentured sex slaves, to include a minor and a substantial cache of ecstasy drugs & cash.
True, such a strategy, ducking questions from the public and press (public scrutiny), has served him well, in the past, but he’s Sheriff now, holds the public’s trust, and more is expected of him. Or is he using you, Deputy Wozniak, as a proxy, to communicate his position, on the matter, to both the Board of Supervisors and public? I’m just asking.
I remember how then Undersheriff Bolanos and Sheriff Greg Munks had feverishly sought the support of both the Deputy Sheriff’s Association and Organization of Sheriff’s Sergeants, to publicly provide the duo with a vote of confidence, following their Las Vegas detention by the FBI. I also remember how Sheriff Munks had, concurrently, gone on an apology tour within the sheriff’s office, a mea culpa, saying words to the affect that he was sorry for his conduct and dishonor / humiliation it had subjected the organization to. Poignantly absent, on this endeavor, was Carlos Bolanos. Was this machismo, on his part, or an aversion to accountability? Just asking. And now his silence, in the Okobi incident, is both deafening and, seemingly, true to form.
Why, Deputy Wozniak, are you fearful of citizens questioning the circumstances which led to the death of a pedestrian, at the hands of your organization’s members?
Why do you feel it necessary to demonize these persons as anti police activists, painting them as part of the NAACP & Black Lives Matter movement en masse?
Why do you further characterize these citizens as the social media army of the Black Lives Matter organization and their knowing nothing about use of force issues?
Do you not see why reasonable well intentioned persons might question why an unarmed pedestrian who, when confronted by officers, ends up dead– this following officers’ use of force?
Do you believe the sheriff’s office and your organization’s members are not accountable to the community which it serves and or the County Board of Supervisors?
Since you have characterized the deputies involved, in Okobi’s death, as doing nothing wrong, have pledged to defend them, and said “the DSA stands behind our members and the actions they took that day in Millbrae”, I assume you have reviewed the results of the investigation conducted by District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe’s Office, in coming to this position and commitment? If this is true, could you please share with us those materials, as, thus far, Steve has told us his investigation has not yet concluded. If you are relying on other materials and or what persons involved [deputies, Supervisors, Bolanos, Wagstaffe, etc.] have told you, please share, we would welcome such insight.
And I have to ask you, Deputy Wozniak, would you concede citizens have a right to question an investigation conducted by either the Sheriff’s or District Attorney’s Office? More importantly, given a past history of demonstrated bias, on District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe’s part, towards Sheriff Munks and Sheriff Bolanos, do you believe he should recuse himself and his office from conducting an investigation into Okobi’s death?
To be completely transparent, shouldn’t a grand jury be convened, witnesses called, evidence presented, and a result sought -bill or no bill of indictment? Or would that be too risky, as there is no defense information presented or cross examination conducted in such a venue, and, therefore, the results entirely predicated upon what narrative the District Attorney wants to present, guilty or not guilty?
Would you acknowledge, Deputy Wozniak, that politics influence decisions made by the both the district attorney’s office and sheriff’s office, respectively? Examples would be, say, the district attorney’s decision not to file charges against Eddie DeBartolo Jr. for a rape he had allegedly committed, in Menlo Park -the case had begun at a bar, the British Banker’s Club, in Menlo Park, and ended at DeBartolo Jr.‘s Menlo Park residence.
What about other allegations of inappropriate sexual conduct involving San Mateo County employees? Wouldn’t you concede, Deputy Wozniak, politics had been a consideration, in the outcome of some of these cases? I’m just asking.
DJ’s email and its content to the DSA membership:
As you all know, the District Attorney has not yet announced if he will or will not prosecute 4 of our members for the death in custody in Millbrae last October. While I’m disappointed his decision has taken so long, we are confident our members did nothing wrong and are fully prepared to defend our members if any charges are filed. The DSA stands behind our members and the actions they took that day in Millbrae. I’m confident that if the DA’s office wanted to move forward with any charges, we would prevail in court.
While the DA’s office weighs its options, the NAACP and the National Black Lives Matter movement have taken a particular interest in the Sheriff’s Office. They have activated their base via social media and have inundated the Board of Supervisors with thousands of calls and emails asking them to remove Tasers from San Mateo County Law Enforcement.
While I had hoped they would simply ignore these anti police activists, they have not. Unfortunately, SupervisorPine and Groom have given these people an audienceand formed a “taser committee” where they’ll will be looking into Tasers, policies surrounding them and researching deaths related to Tasers.
This is baffling because the decision to deploy Tasers is not made by the Board of Supervisors, it is the decision of the Sheriff.
The committee plans on holding a public meeting to “discuss Tasers”. The meeting is tenatively scheduled for February 11th at 1800 hours.
Once the meeting date/ time is confirmed, I will be asking all DSA members try to attend the meeting. I’m not asking you to speak or participate in the conversation as I find it unlikely that any of activists attending are open to listening to anything we have to say. We simply don’t want the entire audience to be full of anti police activists and having normal rational people in the audience will be helpful.
Here is what I have one in response to these events:
I have had numerous conversations with Sheriff Bolanos on this issue and made it crystal clear that the DSA does not support removing Tasers from our members. The Sheriff has has told me that he supports that decision and believes in Tasers have their place in the use of force policies of the Sheriff’s Office.
I have met with the board members individually. I have explained how valuable Tasers are to public safety. I have explained how high in the use of force continuum Tasers are and how restrictive our policy and procedures are regarding their use. I explained to them that the calls/emails they are receiving are not from people in San Mateo County.The people calling are part of the social media army of the Black Lives Matter organization and know nothing nothing about use of force issuesand know nothing about Tasers and their use in law enforcement and most importantly, have no idea about the events in Millbrae resulting in the death in custody.
Sheriff Bolanos has authorized me to create a “use of force” day for the County Manager, County Council and Board of Supervisors. Working with the training unit, we will give the BOS training on Tasers and run them through various scenarios, with and without Tasers so they can see their value in public safety.
I ask that any of you who happen to have a conversation with Sheriff Bolanos, convey your appreciation for his stance on this issue and supporting the DSA.
I will obviously keep you posted on any developments with this “Taser Committee”.
My final question D.J. Wozniak, Who is conducting the Sheriff’s Office Investigation?
Here is D. J. Wozniak (Plaid shirt looking down) in the audience with a very small group of his supporters. two guys behind him staring at camera.
By Michael G. Stogner
Reuters Article on Taser Deaths