2 Investigates: New incident sparks questions about use of force by Rohnert Park police

UPDATE 

After pressure from KTVU Fox 2 Investigates, along with attorney Lisa Rafferty, Rohnert Park Department of Public Safety ultimately agreed to release the transcript of the 911 call that sparked this entire situation.  Police are still refusing to release the actual 911 call. 

Investigative reporter Ross Palombo has spoken to the caller himself and he has declined to comment further.  A PDF of the transcript from August 11th, 2015 at 7:18am can be found here.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

On the heels of a controversy over a Rohnert Park police officer pulling his gun on a citizen, another resident is claiming officers from that department used excessive force against him in a separate incident. 

2 Investigates has also discovered a bizarre connection between the two incidents, which are raising questions about the use of force in the Rohnert Park Police Department.

Questions of Force

Greg Del Secco says three Rohnert Park police officers unexpectedly banged on his door early one morning, and when he opened it with his hands in view, he was cuffed and taken outside.

“I put it out so they could see my hand, knowing that I wasn’t opening it with a weapon or anything like that,” Del Secco said. “As that hand, and I stepped out, they grabbed that hand and twisted it behind my back and started cuffing me and taking me off the porch.”

Del Secco says he has no idea why officers were at his home, and he didn’t do anything wrong. Police Chief Steve Masterson says he considers Del Secco’s putting his hands up unusual.

“To me that an indication that he has some involvement in something that’s gone on inside that house,” said Masterson.

Del Secco says the officers then began searching his home with guns drawn. He believes they had no right to search his house.

But Rohnert Park Police tell 2 Investigates that they had good reason to search the house without a warrant because they received a 911 call from someone who claimed they heard a woman screaming for help inside Del Secco’s home. 

The department refused to released the audio of the 911 call to KTVU. Police Chief Steve Masterson would only say that the 911 caller was “about 200 feet from the residence and he clearly heard a woman screaming for help.”

Civil rights attorney John Burris says it appears that Del Secco acted appropriately before the officers cuffed him.

“It’s the one lesson we give everybody: always make sure your hands can be seen by an officer,” said Burris. “It should not have been perceived as a threat of any kind.”

Officers did not find anything inside Del Secco’s home and did not arrest him.

“It was handled with force,” said Del Secco. “It was not handled with diplomacy.”

Connection or Coincidence?

The search of Del Secco’s home comes just weeks after a different incident involving Rohnert Park police officer pulling a gun on a citizen. That man, Don McComas, recorded the confrontation on his cell phone and the viral video triggered a controversy over whether the officer used excessive force in that case. 

2 Investigates has uncovered a bizarre connection between the two incidents. Del Secco says he and McComas are coworkers who work side by side in an auto body shop. 

Just a few days after McComas posted the cell phone video online, Del Secco wrote a Facebook post on Rohnert Park Police’s page that criticized the officer and the department. It has since been deleted, although other critical posts from different users have been allowed to remain public.

In the post, Del Secco called the Rohnert Park police “gun happy,” saying they “harass citizens,” and that officers would be “looking for revenge.”  A week later, three officers showed up at his door. 

Del Secco says he believes his Facebook post is “potentially” connected to the reason he received a visit from police. 

Chief Masterson called the connection an “odd coincidence.”

For Del Secco and others, the two cases are now raising questions about whether there is an issue with the use of force within the Rohnert Park Police Department.

Chief Masterson disagrees. “I would say no. I would say absolutely not.”

Worldwide Attention

The Rohnert Park Police Department is already dealing with attention from around the world because of the incident with Don McComas in which an officer drew his service weapon.

Earlier this month, the lawyer for McComas, Daniel Beck, announced that his client plans to sue the city. Beck said the lawsuit will be for abuse of power and violation of his clients civil rights. Beck says because of this incident, McComas is receiving medical care.

"He thought he was going to die. He thought he was going to be shot. He thought there was nobody around, nobody can see this," said Beck.

After the incident, McComas posted the video to his Facebook account. Since then, hundreds of thousands of people have viewed the five minute video.

Emails obtained by 2 Investigates to the mayor and city manager of Rohnert Park show that people all over the country have contacted the city to express their opinions about the incident. Most emails released by the city show public outrage, but a few express support for the officer.

The video itself has also gained attention worldwide. It shows the officer leaving his patrol car and drawing his gun all the while repeatedly telling McComas to remove his hand from his pocket. According to Beck, his client complied with the officer. However, some say McComas sounded confrontational in the video.

In the video, McComas tells to the officer he's done nothing wrong and to go away. He goes on to say "You guys have done enough to my family." When asked about this portion, Beck declined to talk about his client's past.

Rohnert Park city leaders said they are aware of the video and plan to conduct two separate investigations into the incident even though there hasn't been a formal complaint.

Up Next:


  • Popular

  • Recent

Stories You May Be Interested In - Includes Advertiser Stories