Vallejo police investigating threatening union email sent to reporter

An attorney for the Vallejo police union apologized Wednesday for an e-mail sent to a news reporter that the journalist called a "thinly veiled threat."

The attorney, Michael Rains, said the e-mail sent by the union president, Vallejo police Lt. Michael Nichelini, was not meant to be a threat but rather a message outlining the rank-and-file's frustration over the journalist's reporting.

"The timing of that letter and even the content was ill-advised," Rains said. "I understand the perception that something like that can have, as a lawyer, and for that reason, I certainly want to apologize to Mr. Taylor."

In an interview with KTVU, Taylor said, "It is chilling to me as a Black man in America to have the police say that they're going to warn their colleagues about my arrival."

He added, "Especially with the outsize power that police officers - and police unions - have, they should know better."

Vallejo Police Chief Shawny Williams said the department is investigating the incident.

In a statement, Williams said: "We do not condone any form of disrespect, discourteous behavior or act of intimidation toward our media partners."

The e-mail was sent to Otis Taylor Jr., a columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle, who is moving to Atlanta to take a new job as an investigative reporter.

The e-mail said that "2021 will be a little bit better not having your biased and un-informed articles printed in the newspaper."
It also said:  "We will warn our Georgia colleagues of your impending arrival."

Taylor had reported on the Vallejo Police Department. He told KTVU that Nichelini had repeatedly declined to respond to his requests for comment.

Nichelini is already on leave for his alleged role in the destruction of a police-truck windshield after a deadly shooting by an officer.