Release of East Bay police transparency records show officers falsified records, had sex on job
OAKLAND, Calif. (KTVU) - Following a judge’s recent order that a new law requiring the release police transparency records be made public even if they were created before Jan. 1, four East Bay police departments complied this week, revealing sustained findings against officers who falsified police reports, faked overtime sheets, mishandled evidence and had sex on the job.
KTVU had requested these documents under a California Public Records Act request, asking for relevant documents under SB 1421, a law that now requires police in California to release records when officers kill or harm people, and whether they were found by their supervisors to have lied or been involved with inappropriate sexual behavior on the job.
Initially, six police unions in Contra Costa County fought against releasing these documents. But the 1st District Court of Appeal declined to take on the case, meaning an earlier court ruling by Contra Costa County Judge Charles Treat to release the records stands.
The Los Angeles Police Department also started providing records last week after courts rejected the union arguments. Judges in Orange, Santa Barbara, San Bernardino and San Diego counties have also ruled for releasing the records. Similar cases are pending in San Francisco and Merced and Fresno counties.
Interactive map: Who is releasing police personnel files and who is not
Among the findings released this week from departments in Contra Costa County:
Jerred Tong, one of the Richmond police officers involved in the Celeste Guap sex scandal, was fired in 2016 for making false statements to internal affairs investigators, records show. No further details were released, and there was no direct mention of Guap in the brief document released by the city.
Also, the same record shows that Terrance Jackson “engaged in (a) sexual act on duty,” between April and July 2016. He was not fired, but suspended, which was the recommended discipline, the record shows. No further information was provided.
Richmond Police Lt. Matt Stonebraker said the department declined to comment on the officers, other than to say the investigations into Tong and Jackson "involve their own unique facts and circumstances, with no connection between them other than a common witness. Many elements of these isolated and complex personnel investigations still retain certain confidences and privacy protections that must be respected."
A call to the Richmond Police Officer’s Association for comment was not immediately returned on Thursday. Jackson's LinkedIn profile shows that he is a lieutenant and has worked for the department for 20 years.
HIs lawyer, Michael Rains, told KTVU on Friday that Jackson met consensually with Guap, who was older than 18 at the time, and that they met "briefly" for 30 minutes or less while on the job. But Jackson "was never unavailable for service, it's not like he didn't show up for a call," Rains said. He added emphatically that Jackson had no idea that Guap was a sex worker and money never exchanged hands between the two.
Joint reporting by the Bay Area News Group and KQED pointed out that while the officers’ roles in the scandal have been known, the exact nature of their discipline has not been. City Manager Carlos Martinez and Police Chief Allwyn Brown both said that seven other officers were disciplined in the sex scandal, but their records didn’t fall under what the new law requires to be made public.
Aside from the Guap case, the records released show that two other officers were found to have been untruthful, both stemming from cases in 2014. One was fired for lying during an undisclosed investigation, and a lieutenant providing misleading information and falsified overtime records and ended up retiring, according to the record. No other specifics were provided.
Finally, Richmond released the names of eight officers involved in officer-involved shootings that ended up with the suspects either being killed or injured since 2014.
The Richmond City Manager also noted that there are three open administrative investigations and two open criminal investigations that will be released in about a month.
Police released records showing an Officer Curtis Borman falsified police reports in 2016 determining that he had “violated several policies, including multiple examples of careless evidence handling (mainly digital evidence like photos) and misrepresenting his actions in police reports,” the record shows. The recommendation was to fire him. But ultimately, the department suspended him for 30 days, put him on a performance improvement plan, removed him from special assignments and didn’t not give him a pay step increase for one year.
Capt. Steve Gorski explained to KTVU on Thursday that in general, even though the chief proposed firing him, typically, an officer's attorney will hold a Skelly Hearing and appeal the harsher punishment. The chief will then take these arguments into account and adjust his or her original recommendation. "It is not unusual for the final discipline to be different than the proposed discipline," Gorski said.
In an interview, Gorski said that Borman never set out to frame anyone. Rather, in his early days as an officer, Borman felt busy and overwhelmed at work and had some difficulty with some technical aspects of the job. "But we have pretty high standards," Gorski said. "If you say you did something in a report, you better have done it. Even slight discrepancies can set off alarms."
Borman is now a patrol officer and "an exemplary one," Gorski said.
KTVU reached out to Borman and the Walnut Creek police union but did not immediately hear back.
Walnut Creek plans to release about 880 pages of documents regarding Borman's case, and four other use-of-force cases by April 5.
The city created an SB 1421 website this week, where officials are releasing any and all public records requests pertaining to the new law. The documents uploaded reveal the names of the officers and the accompanying reports on four police shootings and two other use-of-force cases. Of the shooting cases released by Martinez that date back to 1997, three were non-fatal.
The city sent an email with the names of the officers involved in four deadly officer-involved shootings.
They include: Officer Dan Golinveux who killed Valerie Lee Hawkins in 2014; Officers Kevin Halm and James Cartwright who killed Jose Ramiro Avalos in 2014; Officer Ron Bruckert who shot and injured Joshua Robertson in 2014, and Officers Erica Reed and James Nielsen who killed Dominick Musulman in 2016.
The city attorney's office said more information would be available by March 29.
Antioch and the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office are the remaining two of the six police unions in the county that sued to block the release of the records. These two have still not released records under SB 1421.
Investigative reporter Brooks Jarosz contributed to this report.
EDITOR'S NOTE: This story was updated on March 22, 2019 to reflect an interview with police attorney Michael Rains.