This is bizarre, too bizarre not to make note of here. It is also a little squicky, so I’m going to put a jump here and the main body of this post after the jump. Also, trigger warning.
Archive for the ‘California Über Alles’ Category
The former sheriff of LA county got to open his present a few days early:
A mistrial was declared Thursday in the corruption case against former Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca after a jury failed to reach a verdict on charges that he tried to obstruct an FBI investigation into allegations that deputies abused jail inmates.
The LAT reports that the jury was “split 11 to 1 in favor of an acquittal”, which makes me wonder if the prosecution is even going to attempt a re-trial. As noted previously, Baca is also in “the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease”; an attempt at a retrial may run into competency issues.
Related LAT editorial:
How hard is it not to beat prisoners and obstruct justice?
Since we’re talking about movies anyway, I’d like to make another recommendation. And this one won’t cost you anything.
Last Saturday, it was just Lawrence and I for movie night, and we didn’t want to burn “John Carpenter’s The Thing” with just the two of us there. We had trouble settling on something to watch. We tried “The Architects of Fear” episode of “The Outer Limits”, but neither of us could really get into the episode: it seemed too talky and too relationship oriented, and we turned it off after about 10 minutes. (Also, man, they, like, totally ripped that plot off from “Watchmen”, right?)
We tried watching David Cronenberg’s first movie, “Stereo” (which is on the Criterion disc of “Scanners”) and that was one hot pretentious mess. I think we also made it about 10 minutes into that as well.
We ended up watching, for our feature presentation, a movie I’ve been wanting to see, but which may not technically qualify for Halloween viewing. It is kind of creepy, and falls into the category of “film noir”, so if you’re willing to extend Halloween creepy to noir…(says the guy who has gone in costume as Sam Spade, complete with Maltese Falcon).
The movie in question is 1948’s “He Walked By Night” directed by some guy named Alfred L. Werker (who was supposedly either “assisted by” or “fired from the film and had it taken over by” Anthony “fired from ‘Spartacus'” Mann).
Richard Basehart – excuse me – “Richard Basehart!” – is a burglar specializing in thefts of electronics. At the start of the movie, he shoots and ends up killing a police officer, triggering a massive manhunt by the LAPD. The police lure him into a trap at one point, but he shoots his way out (leaving another police officer paralyzed). The LAPD continues to pursue him, but things are complicated by the fact that he has no criminal record, changes his methods to throw off the police, and almost seems to be one step ahead of them…like he was a former police officer or something.
(Possible spoilers ahead.)
This is often cited as a hugely influential noir film. It is a little stagey (but it was also 1948) and there’s a lot of stuff in it that feels today like clichés. (“I’m taking you off the case because you’re too close to it!”) The thing is, those weren’t clichés in 1948: this is one of the origin points for a lot of what you see in later noir films and procedurals well into today.
A very young (and very thin) Jack Webb plays a police lab technician:
(“You will believe a man can use a slide projector!”) There’s an interesting story behind that: while he was working on this movie, Webb became friends with LAPD Detective Sergeant Marty Wynn, who was working as a technical advisor on the film. One thing led to another, and, well…Webb and Wynn’s friendship and discussions ultimately led to the creation of “Dragnet” (which shares a lot of DNA with this movie.)
Even with all the staginess and talking, this is, in my opinion, a remarkably compelling movie. It is short (one hour nineteen minutes) but something is going on in almost every frame to advance the plot. And there’s also a feeling of some real stakes at play here: any of the good guys (or an innocent bystander) could get killed at any minute. As Ivan G Shreve Jr. notes in his writeup at “Thrilling Days of Yesteryear”:
The unwritten law of the men in blue is there is nothing more dangerous than a cop killer; after all, if someone is crazy enough to shoot a cop, he’s liable to inflict even more grievous injury on an innocent member of the public.
There’s also a lot of really good cinematography: the use of underlighting and shadows to convey a sense of danger and dread is top-notch. And the crime is broken somewhat by lab work (Jack Webb’s role isn’t trivial), but more so by dogged, unrelenting police footwork.
The movie is actually based on a real incident, the Erwin “Machine Gun” Walker case, and it is surprising how closely it sticks to the facts. Walker, like Basehart’s protagonist, was an electronics expert who stole to finance his experimentation. He carried around homemade nitroglycerin that he’d carefully desensitized (to make it safer to transport) had a pretty extensive arsenal (mostly stolen from military armories), experimented with making his own fake driver’s licenses and license plates, and he had worked before WWII as a police dispatcher/radio operator.
There are a few small deviations from historical fact, and one omission: Walker shot and wounded the two LAPD detectives first, the police officer he killed was a highway patrolman (not an LAPD officer), and Walker wasn’t gunned down in an LA sewer. Walker was actually captured alive and sentenced to death, though that sentence was never carried out. One thing the movie doesn’t touch on – perhaps it was too early – was that Walker was emotionally disturbed by his wartime experiences: part of the motivation for his crimes was that he wanted to build a radio-based device that would turn metal to powder, use that device to force the governments of the world to raise military pay, and thus make war “too expensive” to be fought.
You can watch “He Walked By Night” on Amazon Video, and there are several DVD editions of it. Interestingly, though, the film is in the public domain in the United States: you can also download it for free from the Internet Archive.
If you like noir films, or Jack Webb, or Richard Basehart, I recommend you do so. I think you will find this movie amply repays your investment of time and bandwidth.
Four Oakland police officers involved in a sexual misconduct scandal will be fired, and seven more suspended without pay, for shocking violations that include attempted sexual assault and assisting in the crime of prostitution, city leaders said Wednesday.
Among the alleged offenses, the most startling are that the four officers facing termination committed one or more of the following: attempted sexual assault; engaging in lewd conduct in public; assisting in the crime of prostitution; assisting in the evading arrest for the crime of prostitution; accessing police databases for personal gain; lying to investigators; failing to report allegations of a minor having sex with officers and bringing disrepute to the police department.
In slightly old, but related news, the young woman in question is being held in a Florida jail on charges of “aggravated battery”. Her bail is set at $300,000.
Why was she in Florida? Would you believe drug rehab?
Guap and her mother both told the East Bay Express that the drug-treatment was funded through the Richmond Police Department (RPD), an allegation that has raised eyebrows among people following the investigation into Guap’s prostitution claims (which include RPD officers). “I’m not saying rehab is a bad idea, but there are rehab programs here,” said civil-rights attorney Pamela Price, who is leading a call for the state to take over the investigation from individual agencies involved.
(I feel like I should note here that this is just what “Guap” and her family are claiming. The RPD refuses to confirm or deny that they paid for the treatment.)
And what led up to the aggravated battery? Would you believe drug withdrawal?
Guap’s alleged victim, a detox-center security guard named Joseph Sanders, claimed Guap was getting (verbally) upset with a facility care staffer so he and two other security guards entered the room. At that point, Guap tried to pull a safe off of the room’s countertop and, “when the security officers intervened, [Guap] began resisting, starting a physical altercation,” according to an arrest affidavit. Guap began “screaming at the employees then lunged at one of the female security officers. Sanders attempted to restrain” Guap, at which point she bit his right forearm.
(By the way, “Guap” is not the young woman’s real name, which is why I haven’t edited it out.)
I almost want to give Maywood, California a category of their own.
Today’s update: the city hired ECM Group, an engineering firm, to do some work for them. Nothing wrong with that, is there?
Already facing a state audit and scrutiny by the district attorney’s office over whether the city violated open-meeting laws, Maywood this year hired a laid-off Boeing project manager whom the mayor had met as a customer at his auto shop to be its city manager, even though he had no municipal experience.
This one is kind of old, and I have no excuse except pure laziness for not blogging it before now. But it is still one of the more popular stories on the Statesman‘s website, and illustrates two important points.
Point 1: you know what weapon has a lot of stopping power? A 4,000 pound Lexus.
It said the man challenged Viera to fight in the parking lot of the Concentra Clinic at 117 Louis Henna Blvd. The man then called his girlfriend — the driver of the silver Lexus — and told her he was going to be involved in a fight and asked her to pick him up, the affidavit said.
Note a: The strip club in question is Rick’s Cabaret, for those who know Austin.
Note b: Where do guys find these women? With all due respect, most of the women I’ve known, if I called them and said, “Honey, can you pick me up at the strip club? Some guy wants to beat my ass.”, they would show up…with a big bag of popcorn to watch the beatdown.
This leads to point 2: you know what matters more than stopping power? Shot placement.
It said Viera then stepped out of his car and pointed his handgun at the woman’s boyfriend. The woman told police she then sped toward Viera to try to hit him, but Viera fired toward her car and stepped out of the way, the affidavit said.
The woman told investigators that she then turned her car around and saw Viera pointing his gun again at her boyfriend and running after him, according to the affidavit. The woman said she tried to hit Viera with her car again but he fired another shot at her vehicle, the document said.
Third time’s the charm:
It said Viera then fired a shot at the woman’s boyfriend. The woman then ran over Viera and struck a parked car, according to the affidavit. The woman’s Lexus became inoperable and rolled to a stop a few feet away from Viera, the affidavit said.
At last report, the bad guy is in jail, the woman wasn’t charged, and there’s no word about the state of the boyfriend or the Lexus.
The mayor of Stockton, California, was arrested Thursday and charged with felony eavesdropping, among other misdemeanor charges, related to a strip poker game that he allegedly played with teenage counselors at a camp for economically disadvantaged kids last year, according to prosecutors in neighboring Amador County.
In October 2015, Silva was detained at San Francisco International Airport upon his return from China, where Department of Homeland Security officials demanded that he hand over his electronic devices, including the passwords. He seemingly complied with their requests, but he publicly objected to how the matter was handled.
Would you like to take a guess what organization Mayor Silva belongs to? Ding ding ding! Yes, Criminal Mayors Against Guns is the correct answer.
Screen snapshot, just in case this goes down the memory hole.
Meanwhile, in Virginia, the mayor of Fairfax City has been arrested in a meth-for-sex scheme:
Richard “Scott” Silverthorne, 50, was arrested as part of an undercover operation by police, authorities announced Friday. The scheme involved offers of meth in exchange for group sexual encounters with men, police allege.
Before his arrest Thursday, police claim Silverthorne provided the drug to undercover detectives at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Tysons Corner.
In fairness to Mayor Silverthorne, while meth is a hell of a drug, he does not appear to be a member of Crooked Mayors Against Civil Rights. At least, he’s not currently listed on that website…
Edited to add 8/6: Well, he wasn’t listed on the website when I checked yesterday. But, according to Uncle, he does appear to be a Bloombergian shill.
Remember Christopher Correa, the St. Louis Cardinals “director of baseball development” who plead guilty to hacking the Houston Astros player database? (Previously.)
In other news, Former LA County Sheriff Lee Baca was supposed to be sentenced yesterday. The former sheriff, as you may recall, plead guilty to lying to federal investigators. He had agreed to take a plea, and the prosecution, in turn, had agreed to seek a sentence somewhere between probation and a maximum of six months in prison.
Six months in prison for the man who ran the Sheriff’s Department “would not address the gross abuse of the public’s trust … including the need to restore the public’s trust in law enforcement and the criminal justice system,” Anderson said.
Baca must now choose among several unappealing options. He could go ahead with the sentencing and accept whatever punishment Anderson has in mind. He could withdraw his guilty plea and go to trial, taking his chances with whatever charges the government might decide to bring. He could negotiate a new deal with federal prosecutors for a longer sentence that the judge would find more acceptable.
Former sheriff Baca has also been diagnosed as having Alzheimer’s disease, which may be one reason why the prosecution was so willing to agree to a relatively light sentence; if his condition gets worse, he may not be competent to participate in his defense, which could result in any trial being delayed.
I was busy all day yesterday, and I have nothing profound or interesting to say about Orlando. Go look at the smarter people on my blogroll if you’re looking for that: I’d suggest Tam and Lawrence as good starting points.
In other news: there’s now an official lawsuit pending to remove Williamson Count District Attorney Jana Duty from office. And I’m thinking I need a WCDA tag.
I missed this until Lawrence sent me a link to a Daily Mail story: Sean Whent, the police chief in Oakland, resigned on Thursday.
Chief Anthony Batts quit in 2011 after receiving a scathing report from Robert Warshaw, the court monitor assigned to ensure that the Police Department was implementing reforms ordered by a federal judge. Batts’ successor, Howard Jordan, left suddenly in 2013 amid a spike in violent crime and a wave of anger over how police were handling Occupy protests. Interim Chief Anthony Toribio, who came in after Jordan, lasted only two days.
The general belief seems to be that Whent was working to stabilize and clean up the department, but there were a whole host of recent scandals on his watch:
Officer Cullen Faeth was charged with misdemeanor battery, public intoxication and trespassing after he allegedly tried to break into a home in Oakland’s Redwood Heights neighborhood in December and attacked a woman who lived there. In February, Officer Matthew Santos was arrested for allegedly pulling his gun on a man painting Santos’ apartment in Emeryville. Santos was fired shortly thereafter.
But the biggest issue is a messy sex scandal. Five officers have been placed on administrative leave so far.
More from the Mercury News:
Yesterday was kind of a busy day. There were multiple things that I intended to make note of, but I got stuck into something I can’t discuss right now, and…well….anyway:
Morley Safer, for the historical record.
San Francisco police chief “resigns” “at the request of Mayor Ed Lee”. I think we can call this one a “firing”.
The precipitating incident here seems to have been the SFPD shooting of a woman in a possibly stolen vehicle: she fled from the officers and crashed into the back of a truck.
The car crashed into a utility truck a short distance away. Although no weapon was found on the woman and the car was wedged under the truck, a police sergeant fired a single shot, killing her, police said.
It sounds at first like there was a bit of a rush to judgement on this: the shooting took place Thursday morning, and Suhr was canned Thursday afternoon. But as the linked SFGate article notes, this wasn’t the first problem under Suhr’s administration: there had been two previous controversial shootings, plus a scandal over “racist and homophobic text messages”.
Great and good friend of the blog and occasional guest poster RoadRich sent a series of thoughtful comments yesterday on the Suhr firing: I’m hoping he’ll let me post those as a guest post, but I didn’t get a chance to ask him yesterday because of [redacted] and he’s busy today.
But that didn’t stop municipal leaders from granting themselves, the city treasurer and the city clerk $250 monthly mileage stipends.
If Maywood used the Internal Revenue Service’s suggested reimbursement rate for business travel of 54 cents a mile, city officials would need to drive 463 miles a month to reach the $250 mark.
Councilman Ricardo Villarreal said he didn’t think twice about voting in favor of the monthly stipends because he thought the roughly $550 a month they get for serving as council members didn’t cover other costs like meals with other officials and mileage.
I wonder if the councilman and other officials are eating at Tacos Los Desvelados.
Turning our attention to Austin:
Albert “Matt” Arevalo was fired in September after being charged with DWI last May. Arevalo was stopped after driving 91 mph in a 55 mph zone, and his blood alcohol content was more than twice the legal limit, police said.
Mr. Arevalo was an officer with the Austin Police Department. Given that knowledge, would you care to guess what happened next? Yes: he got his job back!
You remember Maywood, don’t you? The city that was so pathetic, they turned over their day-to-day operations to Bell? Which started the chain of events that ended up bringing down the kleptocracy of Bell?
Today, Maywood is back on the brink of financial collapse and struggling to find any kind of rescue plan. The 1.2-square-mile municipality — one of the smallest in Los Angeles County — has amassed $16 million in debt that it cannot repay, according to a state report reviewed by The Times.
The Los Angeles County district attorney is investigating allegations that Maywood repeatedly violated state open meeting laws when hiring and firing top city officials and amending zoning changes, according to documents.
Some in Maywood look with sadness at the spectacle and what it says about the city’s leadership. Neighboring cities such as Bell, Vernon and Cudahy have had to enact reforms in the face of criminal investigations, recalls and threats of disincorporation from the state Legislature, but Maywood has not faced a similar reckoning.
“The reality is Maywood has always been forgotten,” said City Clerk Gerardo Mayagoitia. “No one ever wants to look at Maywood because we’re such a small community, and yet there’s so much corruption here that never stops. No one puts a stop to it.”
Remember the Masonic Fraternal Police Department? Wasn’t that a couple of days wonder?
Latest developments: charges against one of the defendants, Brandon Kiel, have been completely dropped.
And a second defendant, David Inkk Henry, who was apparently the “chief”, died suddenly.