Vallejo top cop launches probe over "badge-bending" allegations

Vallejo Police Chief Shawny Williams said Wednesday that he has ordered a review into allegations that some officers "bent badges" to mark each time they shot and killed someone while on duty.

"Celebrating the killing of a human being is never acceptable, and I'm deeply disturbed by these allegations," Willliams said. "With this new information available to me, I'm doing an official inquiry into the department and the allegations."

The inquiry will examine the culture of the department and could lead to corrective action and a broader investigation, the chief said.  

Civil-rights attorney Melissa Nold, who has sued Vallejo police many times over alleged police misconduct, said of the latest allegations, "It's just egregiously despicable."

The allegations - first reported by Open Vallejo, an independent news organization - were lodged by former Vallejo police Capt. John Whitney. He says was he fired last year after coming forward with allegations of misconduct.

According to Whitney's attorney Alison Berry Wilkinson, Whitney said he first learned about so-called "badge bending" after the deadly shooting of Willie McCoy. Officers fired 55 shots at him in the drive-thru of a Taco Bell.

Whitney says he directed police supervisors to collect any bent badges and that 10 of them were produced.

But according to Whitney, then-Chief Andrew Bidou ordered those badges returned because the top cop was worried that the cost of replacing them would raise suspicions. Whitney says the chief ordered the officers to fix them but doesn't know if that happened.

Whitney also said that back in 2015, Bidou told Lt. Kenny Park,the police spokesman at the time, to quote, "burn that b-," referring to kidnapping victim Denise Huskins. At the time, the department believed she and her boyfriend - now husbad - had made up the abduction story.

Her kidnapper, Matthew Muller, was convicted and sentenced to prison. The couple received a $2.5 million settlement from Vallejo.

Attorney Doug Rappaport, who represented the couple said, "That whole department is so misguided."

Rappaport added, "If you think back to Salem, Massachusetts in 1692, Bidou's the same guy who's yelling 'burn that witch,' right? Now, you know, all these years later he's just using the letter 'b' instead of 'w.'

Nold said, "I'm just thankful that somebody from the inside has confirmed what we've all known for quite some time."

Wilkinson said the city has ignored a claim she filed on behalf of Whitney, which clears the way for them to file a formal lawsuit.