Less than two months after county leaders announced a first-of-its kind regional policy to guide the release of videos that capture police-involved shootings, that policy got a big test.

They seem to have thrown parts of it out the window.

In releasing video of the Tuesday shooting of Alfred Olongo, law enforcement leaders did not, as they pledged in August, wait until an investigation of the incident was complete.

“We have not formed any conclusion yet” about whether the shooting was justified, District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis said at the press conference Friday where the video was played for members of the media.


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In releasing the video before determining whether any wrongdoing took place, law enforcement appeared to have instead signed on to the procedure urged by San Diego Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman.

Though Zimmerman has generally opposed the release of body-worn camera and other videos of shooting incidents, she said last year that she might support making footage public if it would stave off dangerous public demonstrations:

“It could be again for public safety. It could be, as we have seen in other cities where public safety is at risk, where people are damaging property, assaulting people, in a riot type situation,” Zimmerman said at a press conference in 2015. “There could be exceptions, yes. And that’s where you’d have to weigh the public safety versus the due process of whoever that individual is.”

Indeed, at the press conference Friday, flanked by other law enforcement officers including Zimmerman, El Cajon Police Chief Jeff Davis detailed a long list of grievances he had with the protestors who have been demonstrating in the wake of Olongo’s death.

On Wednesday, “several glass bottles were thrown at officers and deputies, and at one point, a civilian was assaulted in the crowd,” Davis said. “These events marked a change in the protestors from peaceful to more aggressive behavior.” Davis said protestors on Thursday were harassing motorists and jumping on vehicles, prompting several 911 calls. He said protestors assaulted officers with “rocks, bottles and bricks,” prompting police to issue an order for the crowd to disperse Thursday night, and to pepper-spray some who stayed.

Davis and Dumanis both said at the press conference that the decision to release the video before an investigation was complete was made in partnership with law enforcement leaders from throughout the county on Friday morning. They said they made the decision in order to avoid further violent protests.

“We came to this decision based on our collective concern for the public safety in the community,” Davis said.

In simultaneously condemning the El Cajon protests and emphasizing that the violent nature of the demonstrations is what prompted the release of the video, San Diego law enforcement officers are setting a peculiar precedent. They are essentially saying that violence will guarantee – or at least speed up – a video’s release. And they’re doing it in the name of preventing violence.

The Friday video release did follow the protocol announced in August in one way: Dumanis said at the time that the faces of officers, witnesses and victims would be blurred out in any footage made available to the public. The faces of officers and Olongo were blurred out, making it difficult to discern what was happening, and particularly when Olongo assumed a “shooting stance” – something El Cajon police said earlier this week justified the shooting.

Before the Friday video release, El Cajon police released a still image of two officers and Olongo, unblurred, that appeared to show him pointing an object at officers.

At the press conference, Davis showed images of the object Olongo was holding – a four-inch vaping device.

    This article relates to: Must Reads, News, Police, Public Safety

    Written by Sara Libby

    Sara Libby is VOSD’s managing editor. She oversees VOSD’s newsroom and its content. You can reach her at sara.libby@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.325.0526.

    32 comments
    obboy13
    obboy13 subscriber

    Really Sara?  You think there's something pavlovian in the mob mentality that will guarantee future protesters will turn quickly violent in the belief they can force officials to release video?  OK, just like anybody else, you're entitled to hypothesize any future outcome you wish, but shouldn't any of those guesses at least carry a disclaimer that you really are no better at predicting the future than anyone else.  You know something akin to: I'm Sara Libby, and this is what I think will happen.  I can't yet point to a time when my prediction has proved correct, but I thought I'd just throw this out there.


    Well let's see if there are any previous factual incidents that can help determine what might happen in the video release/don't release debate:


    Baltimore, MD - Freddie Gray:  No early video released, protesters incited (partially by a grandstanding prosecutor), riots ensued, citizens injured, and property destroyed.  Much worse than the relatively peaceful protests in El Cajon.    


    Ferguson, MO - Michael Brown:  No early video released, protesters incited this time by one of Mr. Brown's parents, riots ensued with wide scale looting and property destruction.  Exponentially worse than the relatively peaceful protests in El Cajon.


    Charlotte, NC - Keith Scott:  No early video released, protesters incited, days of sometimes violent riots ensued with wide scale looting and property destruction.  Exponentially worse than the relatively peaceful protests in El Cajon.


    There are other instances, but by now Sara you should be sensing a pattern, no video, yet violence occurs with alarming regularity at those sorts of public demonstrations.  Perhaps, video evidence has nothing to do with causing folks, who are angry, probably already have determined to their own satisfaction who's culpable, and are temporarily confusing retribution with justice, to turn violent.  Plus in this age of hour-long television drama and 30 second sound bites they want closure immediately.


    So history suggests that there is a strong likelihood protests similar to the one in El Cajon will turn violent on a much larger scale than assaulting a few officers with rocks and bottles.  So far that hasn't happened in El Cajon.  Could that be because, as you suggested, the decision was made to release the videos prior to completing the investigation? If you are correct, then in this case it seems the DA and local officials made a good decision; and maybe deserve some props for preventing a much worse scenario.  Additionally, if, as you assert, these actions might impact future decisions by protesters, it's more likely they will see that if they refrain from the types of burning, looting, and property destruction that happened in other jurisdictions, those protesters too might see an early release of video.


    Or maybe sometimes protesters feel they just have to express their anger in a violent fashion and nothing said or done by the local district attorney is going to make a difference.  However compare the outcome in Baltimore following Marilyn Mosby's actions to what has occurred in El Cajon so far post Dumanis' decision.  I think we're far better off.


    Also let me reassure you I'm not suggesting you end the VOSD's petty vendetta against our District Attorney and stop trying to embarrass her at every turn.  She's an adult, an elected official, and is fair game whenever she messes up.  However, when you create a mythical negative future event as the main takeaway from what is so far a positive outcome of her decision, it makes you look less like a journalist and more like the second guessers who come out of the woodwork when these unfortunate events happen.




    DavidM
    DavidM subscriber

    @obboy13 You might have to rethink your examples. . .


    Baltimore: cell phone video available almost immediately after Gray died, and arguably INCITED the riots.  There was no other video.

    Ferguson: there never was any video.

    Charlotte: Video not released until riots (relatively small scale), which quickly die down AFTER the release.

    Now compare Tulsa; video released almost immediately, no riots even though officer was charged a couple of days later.  

    Or South Carolina: video released in both Scott and Jones shootings, no riots.

    Or Florida: private cell phone video available for Kinsey shooting, investigation ongoing, and no riots.


    Dumanis is arguably the single most powerful politician in the County.  Holding her feet to the fire - every single day - is the press' obligation for such elected officials.

    obboy13
    obboy13 subscriber

    @DavidM @obboy13 David, I sort of feel as if you proved my point that there is little evidence the release of video correlates to the onset of rioting.  At best early release has a calming effect, and that's what happened in El Cajon.  The VOSD however chose to criticize the officials involved for that same early release, because it might cause future problems that they saw as possibly happening.  Be that as it may, I have to disagree with a couple of your points.  


    The video in Baltimore was of the arrest, Mr. Gray was fatally injured a few miles later, therefore the authorities had no definitive video to release of.  I would definitely argue that the cell phone video of the arrest had significantly less bearing on the riots than did the statements of Ms. Mosby, and other activists. 


    In Ferguson, there was indeed some inciting video of Mr. Brown lying in the street.  Some have said it was faked, but faked or not the mob who actually saw it probably believed it.  Thanks, in part to Mr. Brown's father though, the rioting began before any video was released.  I feel this is demonstrative of my point that video or no, riots happen sometimes in the wake of incidents such as these.


    Regarding your characterization of the Charlotte riots as "small scale," I wasn't there, but I suspect the man who was beaten (video available) during them, and the Governor of North Carolina who declared a "State of Emergency" in the City might disagree with you.  My recollection is the unrest continued for 2 or 3 nights.


    Small disagreements, and I should also tell you I support your statements regarding the DA.  I believe that's what I said in my original post.  What I don't support is the theory being advanced by Ms. Libby's article that releasing early video of the El Cajon incident, it would somehow cause future rioters to become violent early.  It's pure conjecture on her part and, in the interest of fairness should have been so labeled.  The actions of the protesters in El Cajon that were deemed violent by Ms. Libby (a few rocks and bottles tossed with no significant injuries) hardly meets my definition of a riot; and in this case one could argue that the DA and local police made the proper decision to release the video.  Additionally, Ms. Libby's guesses as to how future protesters would view release of the video in this instance are nothing more than self-serving conjecture.  She's welcome to hypothesize any sort of future circumstances she wants, but don't you think it's a stretch to blame the DA for Ms. Libby's description of what might happen?  


    So it's great, in my opinion, to hold the DA, or any other elected official, accountable for their actions.  What's not reasonable, or fair, or indicative of how a professional news organization should operate is to have one of the journalists make up some future set of circumstances, and then criticize the elected decision makers for what might happen.  This article is less in the investigative tradition of Woodward and Bernstein, and more akin to Brian Williams who lost a great deal of credibility for making thing up. That was the point I was trying to make.  


    It's also unseemly (and if they're reading, this is the reason I stopped contributing to VOSD) for a reputable group of journalists to pursue a vendetta against a public official because they didn't get their way in a previous disagreement.  This article is another in a series of anti Dumanis pieces that are based solely on innuendo or conjecture.  The US Attorney chose not to prosecute the DA, but VOSD hinted there was a cover up, and despite lacking anything other than highly circumstantial evidence demanded that the US Attorney have Dumanis answer VOSD's questions in court.  When, not unsurprisingly the US Attorney chose to conduct their case rather than do VOSD's job for them, the Voice quickly engaged in the journalistic equivalent of a juvenile temper tantrum.  Based on that and the instant piece, they've clearly lost whatever objectivity they may have had where the District Attorney is concerned.  A recent (2015) Gallup poll found that only 27% of the folks surveyed rated journalists "high or very high" when asked about their honesty and ethics.  In the same poll 30 % rated them "low or very low."  The high/very high rating was only 6 points higher than attorneys were rated.  Perhaps someone needs to hold VOSD's feet to the fire also.  

    DavidM
    DavidM subscriber

    @obboy13 @DavidM No, you said that "protesters will turn quickly violent in the belief they can force officials to release video"  You did not say "there is little evidence the release of video correlates to the onset of rioting."  Had you said that I would have agreed with you.

    The point of the article, and my comment, is that release of video (even video which appears to condemn an officer's choice) has a quelling, not incendiary, effect.  The DA, Sheriff, and Chiefs, all appear to have missed that point, as well as essentially laid out a dare to anyone who wants to see: "we'll give it to you when enough of you are angry enough."

    obboy13
    obboy13 subscriber

    @DavidM @obboy13 David, that was my interpretation of what Ms. Libby was hypothesizing.  She said by releasing the video and because the DA and Chief said they were doing it to "prevent violence" it was only adding incentive to future protesters to turn violent quicker.  I don't agree with her premise, and I believe (hope) if you reread my post, you'll see that I pointed out there are many other factors contributing to a protest turning violent.  I also stated that in my opinion early release was in this case the right decision, and that Everyone involved should get credit for that.  Not criticized because of what Ms. Libby thought might happen.


    While I believe, as I think you do, that transparency is best, I assume it's possible there might be a time when it's wiser to withhold the video.  So to go with the always has a quelling effect is a bit too absolute for me.  I am unaware of any "dare" on the part of the officials since their statement was made at the time of release.

    richard brick
    richard brick subscribermember

    What disturbs most about this shooting is that there were two officers very close to the victim. One officer draws his taser, signaling that he didn't feel that he was in immediate danger. The other draws his weapon and fires killing the victim.


    The other disturbing part is that the officer that did the shooting had made some very poor choices about sexually harassing a female officer in the same PD. In most cases he would have been terminated for his behavior. Not long after the first harassment suit was done and the male officer found guilty this same officer continued with the harassment until the female officer filed a second harassment suit, now pending.


    Now the tax payers of El Cajon are on the hook for another case of sexual harassment and a civil suit for wrongful death, maybe civil rights violations. Why is the El Cajon PD covering for this officer? He should have been fired after the first suit found him guilty.    

    Chris Brewster
    Chris Brewster subscribermember

    I concur. The approach being taken here is completely illogical and indicative of the unworkable nature of the original policy. It's already a failure.

    There is another disturbing aspect to all this though. The chiefs of various departments outside El Cajon (and the Sheriff) appeared at the press conference to discuss whether a video of a shooting by an officer in a department other than their own should be shown. Are they all in full agreement with the El Cajon Police Department's handling of the incident? That's the implication. 

    If law enforcement agencies and the DA take a monolithic approach (i.e. we are all one entity) to these cases, then they all become responsible when one or another of them errs. 

    As for the DA, it seems to me she should only be present when announcing that an investigation will take place and then announcing the outcome of the investigation. Otherwise, the implication is that she stands with law enforcement as part of the investigation process. That would not give great comfort to those seeking an objective review of the incident. It would not give comfort to those seeking justice.

    DavidM
    DavidM subscriber

    @Chris Brewster Excellent observations.  While I don't mind the appearance of a single monolithic law enforcement position on some policies, and assume there was a very interesting conference call on this particular decision, the release by the DA rather than the PD, and the press conference with so many representatives, made for a bad visual.

    obboy13
    obboy13 subscriber

    @DavidM @Chris Brewster Chris and David, you are both absolutely right...if you disregard for a moment that the District Attorney has jurisdiction in all criminal matters arising in the City of El Cajon and all felony matters within the entire county.  Sheriff Gore too has law enforcement responsibilities county-wide.  They both should have been there, and arguably had a duty to be there.  Additionally, the DA's advice on potential evidence in future proceedings is often sought at all levels by the police.  If there's a possibility of future prosecution that only makes sense.  That's how the system works Chris.  Every day individual police officers call deputy DA's for advice.  Why should the Chief of Police in El Cajon be any different?


    As far as your impressions of any implications are concerned, feel free to engage in any theories that seem plausible, you might even be right.  I think it's better to allow the system an opportunity to work, preferring to make any criticisms I wish to after the facts are in.


    Finally to you David.  You thought it was a bad visual? Really?  Is that sort of the same thing Trump says about Clinton's not having a presidential look?  It's not Hollywood, and to say you didn't like the visual look of officials doing their jobs is reading more into the situation than is necessary.  My suggestion is to agree with any conspiracy theorist you please but complaining about how something looks is a slippery slope.

    DavidM
    DavidM subscriber

    @obboy13 @DavidM @Chris Brewster  The DA is the one who will determine whether the El Cajon officers will face charges.  Standing in a press conference providing commentary on why they probably will not, while the investigation is allegedly ongoing, is like screaming "THE SYSTEM IS RIGGED" to a bunch of people looking for that kind of evidence.

    Dumanis and Gore are smarter than that.  The video should have been released in an El Cajon PD press conference.


    "Every day individual police officers call deputy DA's for advice"

    No they don't.

    Chris Brewster
    Chris Brewster subscribermember

    @obboy13 The District Attorney's obligation in all cases that may be charged as criminal acts is to be an objective reviewer of the facts and a decider as to when it is appropriate to prosecute. She has enormous power in that regard because deciding not to charge is essentially deciding that someone is innocent without a trial. The Sheriff may have law enforcement responsibilities county-wide, but they don't include deciding how El Cajon does its policing. In this case, El Cajon police officers took actions that may or may not have been justified. The El Cajon police department, and that department alone, should respond to the media and public with respect to their actions. The DA should stay out of the matter except to review the evidence to determine if the law was followed. Period.

    obboy13
    obboy13 subscriber

    @DavidM @obboy13 @Chris Brewster

    "Every day individual police officers call deputy DA's for advice"

    No they don't.

    Yes they do. I've seen it and done it.  In fact there are in existence today vertical prosecution units with deputy DA's attached to them to facilitate direct communication.  You sir are simply uninformed about how the system works.

    obboy13
    obboy13 subscriber

    @Chris Brewster @obboy13 Chris, you're wrong on your interpretation of the statutes.  The DA's job is to represent the people of the State of California, and to serve as public prosecutor in the state courts.  Nowhere in the statutes will you find a requirement to be objective.  In fact, during an adversarial trial, they are anything but objective. So your premise is incorrect, but that doesn't mean you have incorrectly interpreted the body language, and the implications surrounding the decision to release the video.  That's your opinion, as you say...period.  Everybody's got one, but until facts are known, most are just conjecture and worth what they cost.  It is however, clear that at no time did the DA state she believed the officers or Mr. Alango were innocent or guilty, or justified or not justified.  She simply joined in releasing video to prevent violence, and arguably that worked.  Since, if any prosecutions stemming from the incident will be done by her office, it makes sense that the ECPD Chief would consult her to see if release would have a negative impact on future prosecution.  Advising him, particularly at his request, doesn't seem out of line with her statutory duties.


    It also appears you are not clear on the Sheriff's role as Chief Law Enforcement Officer of the County.  That's not surprising, it's all pretty esoteric, but I am surprised you seem unaware of the existence of mutual aid agreements.  I know it's been a long time, but didn't the Lifeguards have similar agreements back in the day?  Every law enforcement agency in the county has them, and in fact I have personal knowledge that some smaller Police Department's officer-involved shooting policies specify the Sheriff will the one to investigate.  Don't know about ECPD specifically, but if you think Bill Gore told the ECPD Chief what to do, I'd like to know what that conclusion is based on.  Consistency in law enforcement is a positive thing.  I believe if you ever become privy to what actually occurred in this case you'll find that assistance was offered and gratefully accepted by the Chief.  The Sheriff certainly didn't show up unannounced and try to horn in on the operation.  In fact, as you can see from the press briefing both the DA and the Sheriff deferred to the ECPD Chief, and he gave no indication he was anything other than glad to see them.  You also may have seen Sheriff's deputies deployed in the streets.  Certainly you don't think they just showed up by magic?  Their assistance was sought by ECPD, to think otherwise is not logical.  

    Chris Brewster
    Chris Brewster subscribermember

    @obboy13 "Nowhere in the statutes will you find a requirement to be objective." I would submit that is an obligation of every District Attorney in deciding whether a case should be prosecuted. I think the public should expect no less.

    obboy13
    obboy13 subscriber

    @Chris Brewster @obboy13 Well Chris I guess you can submit anything you wish, but District Attorneys are advocates.  The ones who they determine not to file on are the folks for whom the DA's feel there is insufficient evidence to convict; or a case where the arresting agency has made errors that render the case unwinnable.  The latter reason, by the way is just one of the reasons there was a District Attorney presence in El Cajon. The system, however does provide for objectivity.  The hopefully objective and unbiased ones are the folks in the black robes.  


    The check and balance you're looking for exists at the ballot box.  Waste money prosecuting too many frivolous cases that lose in court; or fail to charge someone who by initial appearances seems guilty, and soon you're no longer District Attorney.   Since it seems you don't believe Ms. Dumanis is doing her job properly, that puts you at odds with the majority of the electorate during the past 13 years. Based on the scoreboard, you may want to reassess your belief regarding what the "public" expects from their District Attorney.

    Chris Brewster
    Chris Brewster subscribermember

    @obboy13 Interesting thoughts from an anonymous poster. In absence of evidence to the contrary, I will presume you work for Ms. Dumanis. You may, of course, object to that presumption, but absent objective evidence, I think it can be assumed to be true.

    obboy13
    obboy13 subscriber

    @Chris Brewster @obboy13 So on to the ad hominem arguments, if the facts aren't on your side, cast aspersions on the individual.  I'm not sure why internet anonymity makes my arguments any more or less valid to you, but for the record,  I don't work for the District Attorney, and am long since retired from the County.  You probably won't recall, but we actually met once, either Ted Marioncelli or Chris Heiserman introduced us.  I'm not in the habit of putting my id online, but if you truly want to know, e-mail me at obboy13@yahoo.com and I'll give it up to you.


    For what it's worth, I really don't think Bonnie Dumanis cares enough about what's written here to assign, or  even encourage a staff member to comment.  I also think that's one of the reasons for what I see as a petty vendetta generally coming from the VOSD against her.  She's made it fairly clear she doesn't consider VOSD a major player among San Diego news outlets, and my guess is that rankles them.

    Chris Brewster
    Chris Brewster subscribermember

    @obboy13 The facts speak for themselves. The opinions we express about them do as well. I disagree with your opinions (just as you disagree with mine), but I also disagree with the decision to express them anonymously. I think it has a general tendency to contribute a coarsening of debate and lends to a reason to suspect motives. As to Ms. Dumanis, winning elections insulates no one from criticism, nor should it. The electorate is slowly changing in San Diego and along with it will come gradual change.

    DavidM
    DavidM subscriber

    @obboy13

    "Nowhere in the statutes will you find a requirement to be objective"


    But you will find the in the rules of professional ethics for lawyers in public service.


    The ABA criminal justice section opines, in part, that "The duty of the prosecutor is to seek justice, not merely to convict."  Our state Supreme Court says those rules are adopted to California Rules of Professional Conduct through the Preamble.

    DavidM
    DavidM subscriber

    @obboy13

    "there are in existence today vertical prosecution units with deputy DA's attached to them to facilitate direct communication"


    You raise a special case, so yes.  There are task forces, or "Special Investigations," which have ADAs available for inquiry.  But those are not "individual police officers" so much as groups of officers planning strategy.  I took your comment to be a patrol officer who can call and ask an ADA for particular legal advice; in that general case, my answer is correct; I would submit that you special case proves mine as well, since those ADAs have to be specifically assigned to work with those officers.

    obboy13
    obboy13 subscriber

    @DavidM @obboy13 Nice try David, but you're still wrong and now your ignorance is showing.  First off in San Diego they are not called ADAs they are Deputy DA's abbreviated DDA.  There is only one ADA in San Diego County, that is the number two person in the Department.  I believe they may be called ADA's on some TV programs which I'm beginning to think is where you're getting your information.

    Second, I never said every single police officer calls a Deputy DA every day, so if that was your understanding you're going to have to find where I wrote it.  I also never said the communication was confined to only special units.  That is a construct of your making.  Setting aside that special units are made up of individual officers, thereby being exemplary of my point, there are many other distinct units solely within police departments that find it helpful to discuss cases with prosecutors.  Think about it just a moment and you may realize that in any complex felony case the officers are going to want to be sure they have followed procedure, and the rules of evidence to ensure a successful prosecution.  Who do you think they call to double check their work.  Additionally, most veteran officers have a professional relationship with the prosecutors and can call if they so desire.  Finally, almost all of the DA Investigators are ex cops who also interact with both the prosecutors and existing cops.


    The criminal justice system is just that a system.  It's not perfect, and may not always function the most efficient manner, but if you believe that each component functions separately in a vacuum, without the individuals talking to each other, you simply have no experience in the real world, and it's showing.

    obboy13
    obboy13 subscriber

    @Chris Brewster @obboy13 Ok Chris I respect your take on the changing electorate.  I'm not sure what you mean, since you failed to define where you think it's going, but I agree it's certainly changing.


    Citing Ms. Dumanis' election record was not my way of saying she should not be criticized.  On the contrary criticism of elected officials if not for baseball would be our national sport.  It's good, healthy, and a sign of our freedom.  In fact if you go back to my original post here, you'll see that I said Bonnie is fair game.  I brought it up, because you attempted to speak for the "public," indicating somehow you have inside information as to how the populace feels about this issue.  I've never once pretended to represent my views as anything other than my own opinions or state that I speak for a larger group.  When you did, I simply called you on it, and my proof that you don't speak for them was contained in the only opinion poll that matters...the elections.  I'll stand by that opinion.


    Finally, I'm a bit puzzled by your issue with my desire to keep a certain degree of privacy.  First, as you said the facts speak for themselves, so the messenger in this case shouldn't really matter.  Second, if you can show me where I was overly coarse, as opposed to being direct, I'll apologize ahead of time, but be forewarned, telling somebody they're wrong is, in my opinion, being direct rather than coarse.  Please understand also, that communication is also changing.  Third, from my perspective you brought up the anonymity issue, and I might add, the wild conjecture as to where I might work, only when you found it inconvenient to discuss the facts.  I'm sure it wasn't your intent, but it gave me the belief that you finally realized certain of your statements were not accurate, and were trying to shift the discussion.  Finally, and here's the real puzzle to me, if you have such a problem with internet anonymity, why then do you keep engaging? 

    obboy13
    obboy13 subscriber

    @DavidM @obboy13 David, please don't take this wrong, but is English a second language for you?  You wrote:


    "But you will find the in the rules of professional ethics for lawyers in public service."


    I could be snarky and say there are plenty of times the word the is used in those rules, however, I'll skip to the chase.  Justice and objectivity are not the same thing.  For your ease of reference, here's the legal dictionary definition:


    n. 1) fairness. 2) moral rightness. 3) a scheme or system of law in which every person receives his/ her/its due from the system, including all rights, both natural and legal. One problem is that attorneys, judges and legislatures often get caught up more in procedure than in achieving justice for all.


    Examples of the difference are seen far too often these days.  Protesters demand "justice" but what they really want is instant retribution.  Mandatory sentencing guidelines demand overly harsh sentences that objectively serve neither defendant nor society, but are considered just.  The largest difference between the two terms though can be seen in O.J.'s trial.  Objectively, many, if not most folks believe he got away with murder.  However, Mr. Simpson, had his day in court, his rights were protected, and, while you may disagree with the verdict,  justice under the law was achieved.  As an aside, do you think the prosecutors in that case didn't wish the cops had called them more than they did?





    DavidM
    DavidM subscriber

    @obboy13


    Gee, no one has corrected me about their title before; sorry if I touched a nerve.

    As I said, I interpreted your comment to be that any officer could call.  You corrected me.  Thanks.  If it's important to you, I apologize for my misinterpretation.  It appears to be important to you.

    But, just so we're clear on my original interpretation, I asked three LEO at lunch today.  A retired patrol officer, who laughed and said, "No, no way.  Who would I call?"  A retired deputy (detective) who said, "No, but I've returned calls."  And a current deputy on a task force who said, "No, but there's someone assigned and I know the chief does."

    You started this with your misreading of the point of the article - that "there is little evidence the release of video correlates to the onset of rioting" - when in fact the opposite was the point of the article; the LEO principals in this County have set a de facto riot standard for release of video.  That's significant; but now we've gone off on the titles at the DA's office?

    And I never said or implied that there wasn't some coordination between elements of the system; but your arrogance in replies tells me that - in your head at least - what you believe is true regardless of someone else's statement or intent.

    DavidM
    DavidM subscriber

    @obboy13 Don't take this wrong, but is condescension a hobby for you?

    I edited a sentence, and left out a word.  "But you will find the issue in the rules of professional ethics . . .".  You seem to have interpreted it just fine, but then begin by throwing in something else just for the ad hominem self-gratification.  What's up with that?

    More seriously, is remembering what you wrote a moving target for you?

    You said the DA is an advocate; that is a vicious corruption or their ethical obligation.  Chris referred to their objectivity; I referred to their obligation to seek justice rather than victories.  Chris did NOT refer to objective agreement with a verdict; he referred to the fairness of the prosecutors and their motivation for bringing or not bringing charges.  Your free association with what someone says with what you want them to mean is, well, off-putting.

    Let me shorthand it for you though: justice is not possible if the prosecutor does not appear objective.  Justice is a perception; objectivity is a state of mind.  But no one, even someone who agrees with a verdict, can say that the ends of justice were served if there was a corrupt state of mind in the prosecutor.  There will always be doubts: did they comply with Brady?  did they give all the relevant material to an expert?  did they exclude a juror for an improper reason?  A similar issue arises if the objectivity of the prosecutor is called into question when choosing NOT to file charges.  Indeed, I would argue that in this decision objectivity is most necessary.  The perception of a corrupt decision destroys the very foundation of the system; that it is fair to all.

    Interestingly enough, I called into question a new ADA's objectivity (excuse me, "DDA's objectivity") last February at a motion hearing when he started to argue undisclosed facts.  The judge agreed.  And a public defender in Juvenile Court told me a couple of years ago that most of the DDA's had completely spent their credibility with the judges because they were clearly not objective.

    obboy13
    obboy13 subscriber

    @DavidM @obboy13 I see you don't like to be corrected David.  I took it as an indication of a lack of knowledge regarding the system on your part, but if you don't wish to learn it's ok.  


    Thanks for the apology.


    If three folks, one of whom knew of communication, one of whom had had communication, and one of whom had no clue who to call is a statistically significant study in your mind...ok.  It's not in mine, once again I never said every cop calls daily, but I hope you enjoyed your lunch.  By the way, if that retired patrol officer retired at that level and never made sergeant, perhaps he should have spent a little time on the phone, huh? 


    "And I never said or implied that there wasn't some coordination between elements of the system; but your arrogance in replies tells me that - in your head at least - what you believe is true regardless of someone else's statement or intent."


    Go back and check what you wrote in response to my statement that police officers talk to Deputy DA's every day.  For your ease of reference your response was an absolute "no they don't."  That certainly implies a lack of communication and coordination to me.


    obboy13
    obboy13 subscriber

    @DavidM @obboy13 Seriously, I'm moving the conversation around here?  I said the DA is the peoples advocate and that the statutes don't mention objectivity.  Your response is to cite some ethical guidelines or rules, which are not part of the statutes.  My statement wasn't wrong you just disagreed with it and introduced a new set of rules into the discussion.  


    You think the term advocate is a vicious corruption of an ethical obligation?  Vicious?  Is that another typo?


    Justice is a perception, and objectivity is a state of mind?  OK, I believe I said they were not the same thing, so thanks for proving my point.  It also means that your introduction of the ABA rules also then didn't include objectivity either.   Right?


    If you are now suggesting you're an expert on prosecutors corrupt states of mind, sorry, I'm going to need some academic credentials to back that one up.


    You called into question a new DDA's objectivity?  Are you a public defender or an attorney?  It doesn't seem so from what you've written so far, but...


    A Public Defender told you that "most of the DDA's had completely spent their credibility with the judges because they were clearly not objective?"  Well then how did he or she explain the true findings that seem to regularly emanate from Juvenile Court? More absurd, after going on about objectivity you rely on a Deputy Public Defender for an objective analysis of "most" DDA's in Juvie?  Thanks for the levity.

    DavidM
    DavidM subscriber

    @obboy13 I mentioned the Rules of Professional Conduct because lawyers are bound by them and can be disbarred for violating them.  (Pretend the Rules are "policy."  It's not a crime, but you can lose your job/career.)  Chris mentioned their objectivity, which I contend is a requirement of seeking justice.  Your statement (statute doesn't require objectivity) wasn't wrong; it was incomplete.  So incomplete, in fact, that it left the wrong impression.

    I said that objectivity is required for justice, a subject which you now avoid.  Far from proving your point, it illustrates Chris'.  If the prosecutor is not objective, justice is not possible. 

    (Is this how to browbeat a suspect?  Change the subject, twist what they say, throw in the odd insult now and again until they're just sick and tired of dealing with you?)

    I'm an attorney, Hastings College of Law.  (And just FYI, public defenders are also attorneys.  How did you not know that?)  I am almost exclusively practicing civil and regulatory law, but for a friend of a friend or someone truly be railroaded by "the system" I'll step into a criminal case; usually as a volunteer since the procedure is seemingly designed by people who care more about form and less about substance.

    What are you that makes you such a diligent defender of "the system" that is mistrusted by so many people?

    The public defenders in this County have to choose their battles.  In my opinion (and experience in dealing with their aftermath) they routinely violate their own Rules because they are overworked and have to pick their battles carefully.  Check out the hallways outside Juvenile Court departments and you'll meet several who never took the time to talk to their clients before making a plea deal.  I've watched it happen.  But to a man (or woman) every one I've ever met has a number of stories about prosecutors who've lied, misrepresented evidence, and sometimes just made up facts in their arguments.  

    The one who told me about the credibility of DDA's was trying to sell a motion for unsupervised probation instead of contesting a petition.  Easier for the office, case is over faster, but the juvenile would be required to do some counseling, write stupid essays no one would read, etc.  (The juvenile was the son of a client, but I'd never done juvenile court work and so just watched and advised on questions to ask.)  I was told the motion would be granted, because the opposition would stretch credulity.  And it was predicted exactly correctly; the opposition was pure fiction, gloom and doom prediction of a life lost without proper attention to anti-social behavior, and other tripe.  It just didn't have any evidence.

    (That juvenile is now an adult, and an engineering student at UC; that prosecutor is still making up crap trying to destroy another kid's future.)

    The prosecutor, of course, never met the kid, never talked to parents or teachers, or even cared.  There was no objectivity at all, not even an attempt to discuss the multiple references and declarations submitted.  They oppose every motion; because objective truth doesn't matter, only convictions.  During argument, in fact, it was  argued that the petition had to be filed because the SDUSDPD officer recommended it.  Even the judge stopped the argument there to ask if anyone had reviewed it before seeking a felony crime (and, of course, the prosecutor said they had).

    Your condemnation of public defenders is duly noted; I'm sure that Constitutional rights, fairness and equity rate equally low.

    (And another FYI, getting a true finding is easy if you charge a three, six, or a dozen counts; even if you only have evidence for one.  Our prosecutors charge to intimidate; that's an objectivity issue too.)

    obboy13
    obboy13 subscriber

    @DavidM @obboy13 Pretty convenient stories.  Not very believable, but convenient.  David, you write more like someone who sees himself as a victim of the system than an attorney.  Hastings?  Right, the old professors have lost a step, but they haven't lowered their standards. 


    I'll tell you what.  It's time to disengage.  You can write the last piece saying how you won, and I'll think you're delusional.  Objective?  Not you sir.  Thanks for playing. 

    DavidM
    DavidM subscriber

    @obboy13 There is nothing to win; I'm surprised you don't know that.  (Well, not really.)

    "Objective?  Not you sir."

    I never made that claim, but then your ability to twist what someone says and determine what they mean is exemplary.  As is the dismissal of honest anecdote, without serious thought, as fiction.  

    I suspect your ability to honestly communicate with those who have different experiences with "the system" is equally dismissive, and only regret that you don't see the storm coming.  (Which was kind of the point of the article you misinterpreted.)

    DavidM
    DavidM subscriber

    @obboy13 @DavidM Geez; did you need this much affirmation when you were working?

    You said "Every day individual police officers call deputy DA's for advice."

    I interpreted that mean that ANY individual officer COULD call.  My bad.  Oops.  I was wrong.  Mea culpa.  

    I'm not sure what else you need, since I've already said that, apologized for the misunderstanding, and you even acknowledged the apology.

    If a day went by where no officer in the County called would you think me a little immature for reminding you that you said "every day?"  That's what you said, right?  I don't mid parsing words and statements with you, but I really do have other things to do than humor your insecurities.

    BTW, of those three LEO, NONE had any communication they initiated to ask "for advice."  None knew who to call "for advice."  But fine, you were right, I was wrong.  Move on.

    (And that retired patrol officer was a lateral from an out of state agency, who put in just under six years here (after getting his POST waiver in California).  But your free association with whatever you must believe to be superior is duly noted.) 


    People comment for several reasons, and they start conversations in the comments to share stories and anecdotes or sometimes to argue positions.  I have actually learned a great deal about city and county government from VoSD comment writers.  I hope some have learned from me.  It appears you just came to argue and feel superior, and I don't need it.  I already raised two children; I don't need to argue with another.

    GK
    GK subscriber

    It might speed up the release of any video that appears consistent with law enforcement's version of events, with public press conferences where everyone takes credit for the "transparency."    Maybe a new model should be considered where video immediately goes into the custody of an independent panel not under the chain of command of the DA or law enforcement.  They could enforce privacy rights and decide what video to release without having the conflict of interest of potentially incriminating your own employees or poisoning potential jurors.


    Cynically, I take the DA's approval to release this video so early as a de facto signal that the investigation is effectively over.  No charges.