By Doug Porter
As of this morning, police in the United States have killed 927 people this year. Number 925 on the Guardian’s list was Lamontez Jones, age 39, who died at Sixth and F Streets in San Diego’s Gaslamp District. He was, according to activists with United Against Police Terror (UAPTSD), the ninth person killed by law enforcement in San Diego this year.
Media reports say Jones was shot by two motorcycle officers when he pulled a gun replica on them as they chased him through downtown San Diego Tuesday afternoon. The body cams worn by the policemen were not activated before or during the encounter. Department procedure is to turn them on prior to arriving on the scene.
Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman defended the officers failure to activate the cameras at a press conference, saying officer- and public- safety concerns are more important than use of the devices.
Lamontez Jones, 39, who was later found to be the subject of an outstanding armed robbery warrant out of Virginia, bolted when one of the officers tried to contact him about making a disturbance and interfering with traffic near Horton Plaza about 2 p.m., according to San Diego police.
The man ran to the south on Sixth Avenue, ignoring repeated orders to halt, Nisleit told reporters. Reaching F Street, the suspect allegedly turned toward his pursuers and pulled a pistol out of his waistband.
Fearing for their lives, the officers opened fire on the man, who fell onto the roadway, Nisleit said. He then began to sit up and raise the weapon again, prompting them to shoot him again.
The SDPD announced a change in policy regarding body cameras back in May after an officer failed to turn on his camera before fatally shooting a man in the Midway District. Officers were instructed to start turning on their cameras prior to an enforcement contact.
A copy of the SDPD scanner audio, along with a slide show of pictures taken near the shooting was posted on YouTube.
UAPTSD identified via a Facebook posting officers involved in the shooting as Robert Stinson and Scott Thompson.
In 1985, Stinson was cleared by then-Dist. Atty. Edwin Miller in the shooting of Wayne Douglas Holden, a UC San Diego student despondent following a fight with his girlfriend. Newspaper accounts from the time of the incident say that Holden brandished a knife and acted erratically.
His father was quoted in the Los Angeles Times, saying the uncritical district attorney’s report is “like Richard Nixon investigating Watergate . . . . The system is investigating itself and the problem is the system is wrong itself. The police came to prevent a suicide and they pumped six bullets into him . . . . That’s police incompetence.”
It just so happens the UAPTSD and other groups have been involved for months in staging the San Diego version of the “20th Annual October 22; National Day of Protest to Stop Police Brutality, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation.”
The Black Student Union at USD and a coalition of Black Student Unions leading a march starting at City Heights Performance Annex at 6pm this evening (Thursday). Participants are being urged to wear black.
National Coalition to Reduce Mass Incarceration
Meanwhile, on the other side the political world, a group of top cops and prosecutors from around the country announced creation of an alliance to reduce crime as well as the country’s swollen prison population.
Calling itself Law Enforcement Leaders to Reduce Crime and Incarceration, the group grew out of a meeting in Chicago a year ago. They are led by Chicago police superintendent, Garry McCarthy and former Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas of New Orleans.
From the Marshall Project blog:
“We don’t want everybody in jail. We want the right people in jail. It is a small component of the community that creates the vast majority of the violence,” McCarthy said in an interview. “Not one of us is saying that narcotics is O.K. But there is a difference between putting a gun in somebody’s face and saying ‘give me your money.’ And getting caught with ten bags of heroin because you have a problem. They are two totally different crimes. And the priorities have to be reflected in the laws.”
The Times of San Diego reports that the group includes County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis, which I find interesting in view of her opposition to Proposition 47 and attempts to exclude juvenile offenders from its provisions:
According to the group, the incarceration rate in the United States has reached a crisis point and over-relying on incarceration does not help bring down crime. In fact, incarcerating non-violent offenders for low-level crimes such as drug offenses can take time and vital resources away from preventing serious and violent crimes.
The Law Enforcement Leaders group said more than 50 percent of prison and jail inmates have a diagnosed mental illness, and 65 percent of prisoners meet medical criteria for substance abuse and addiction. Many of those need treatment, not arrest and jail time, the group said.
Reducing incarceration will improve public safety because people who need treatment for drug and alcohol problems or mental health issues will be more likely to improve and reintegrate into society if they receive consistent care, something relatively few jails or prisons offer, according to the group.
San Diego County Shorts the Poor
A study released yesterday the Center on Policy Initiatives says the County of San Diego is still doing a lousy job of enrolling people living in poverty in three major government benefits programs.
While the country was going through an economic recession starting in 2008, the county stashed cash rather than helping people in need of the services it’s supposed to provide.
From the report:
…a CPI study of county finances revealed that the San Diego County Board of Supervisors had accumulated a $2.2 billion reserve, while restricting safety net services, despite a growing need for the services during the recession. The 2011 report showed that San Diego County took in much less revenue than other large counties in the state yet held onto a much larger surplus relative to its budget. Researchers noted that the huge surplus represented “a lost opportunity to benefit the local economy and the lives of county residents.”
Here’s a snip from the Union-Tribune’s coverage:
“Besides depriving tens of thousands of families of adequate nutrition and services they need, the continuing low enrollment leaves federal and state money on the table year after year. These funds could greatly boost local businesses and the regional economy,” says the report from the Center on Policy Initiatives, a nonprofit research group that focuses on economic issues for working families and communities.
The study focused on the state’s food stamp program CalFresh, short-term cash and assistance program CalWORKs, and Medi-Cal, the state’s version of Medicaid. The report says 14.7 percent of the county’s residents live below the federal poverty level and are eligible for at least one of these benefits.
Between the three programs, financially eligible county residents miss out on $714 million in direct assistance per year. If that money had ended up in their homes, it would have created $905 million in economic activity and supported 6,450 new jobs, according to the report.
Charging on for the Chargers
There were a couple of big developments yesterday, in the local quest for a new football stadium.
Gov. Jerry Brown certified the Mission Valley stadium proposal for expedited environmental review. This certification still needs to be approved by the legislature’s joint budget committee later this fall and there are questions about blessing a project that uses tax dollars.
If this certification stands it would expedite any potential lawsuits challenging the environmental impact review. And…
Taking on the Tourism Cartel
Attorney Cory Briggs has announced plans for a June 2016 city initiative fundamentally changing what happens with hotel taxes in San Diego. Among it’s many attributes are an additional $18 million in revenues from room taxes going into the city’s general fund.
Such a non-specific tax only needs the approval of 51% of the electorate, as opposed to the super-majority required in other recent proposals. It would incentivize hotel owners to developing an off-site convention center using their own money while prohibiting any contiguous expansion on the waterfront.
AND…(quoting from the press release) “the initiative would allow, but not require, development of a downtown stadium in conjunction with a Convention Center expansion and authorize redevelopment of the Qualcomm Stadium site with university, eco-tourism, and park-related uses if the Chargers depart the site and redevelopment is approved by the City Council.”
From the Union-Tribune:
In announcing plans to launch the ballot measure process, Briggs touted the multiple goals of the initiative, among them a way forward to settle pending litigation related to a hotelier-approved surcharge for tourism marketing and Coastal Commission approval of an expansion of the convention center on the waterfront.
The “Pay Their Own Way” initiative, as Briggs is calling it, would also phase out the city’s hotelier-run Tourism Marketing District, which relies on a 2 percent surcharge on hotel rooms to finance tourism promotion. The city’s current transient occupancy tax stands at 10.5 percent, plus the 2 percent tourism marketing levy.
Briggs has challenged the legality of the hotel levy, and a trial date of Nov. 6 has been set for his suit, which the city and hoteliers had unsuccessfully sought to dismiss.
I’ll let Scott Lewis via twitter give you an idea of how San Diego’s hoteliers might feel about this.
So @corybriggs is doing hotel tax reform/hike petition. If it gets legs, hotel dudes will request the nuclear codes: https://t.co/BbXAavZmYj
— Scott Lewis (@vosdscott) October 22, 2015
On This Day: 1934 – Bank robber Charles Arthur “Pretty Boy” Floyd was killed by FBI agents near East Liverpool, Ohio. He was a hero to the people of Oklahoma who saw him as a “Sagebrush Robin Hood,” stealing from banks and sharing some of the proceeds with the poor. 1962 – President Kennedy went on radio and television to inform the United States about his order to send U.S. forces to blockade Cuba. The blockade was in response to the discovery of Soviet missile bases on the island. 1975 – Air Force Technical Sergeant Leonard Matlovich was discharged after publicly declaring his homosexuality. His tombstone reads ” “A gay Vietnam Veteran. When I was in the military they gave me a medal for killing two men and a discharge for loving one.”
Did you enjoy this article? Subscribe to “The Starting Line” and get an email every time a new article in this series is posted!
I read the Daily Fishwrap(s) so you don’t have to… Catch “the Starting Line” Monday thru Friday right here at San Diego Free Press (dot) org. Send your hate mail and ideas to DougPorter@SanDiegoFreePress.Org Check us out on Facebook and Twitter.
cop-cam policy suggestions:
number one, the camera is ALWAYS ON! the default mode is ON. the wearer cannot turn it off.
Let’s be real here. While the reasoning for the body cameras not being on is questionable, any one protesting the actual shooting is full of themselves. The guy was running around brandishing a gun (there is no dispute). The fact that that it turned out to be fake is not something they could have figured out in the heat of things. As someone who has had a close friend of the family killed in the line of duty (LAPD) around 30 years ago I want to tell these people to f*** themselves but I wont. The high # of black males being shot and killed by police does not justify protesting in this case.
Doug Porter says
Go back and read the story.
UAPTSD has been organizing this protest for many months now. It’s the “20th Annual.”
The shooting of Jones –justified or not– is just a signpost, reminding us of how often law enforcement personnel feel obliged to use the ultimate solution. Nine hundred and twenty-six other people have met the same fate this year.
The placement of the item about incarceration reform immediately after the shooting story is no accident. The protests following deaths by law enforcement around the country have created a sense of urgency about just what it is that society expects of its criminal justice system.
#BlackLivesMatter and other groups –even if none of those prosecutorial types couldn’t imagine being in the same room with them–can claim some of the credit for a public understanding that we as a nation need to have this conversation.
The War on Drugs and a criminal justice system that allows punishment for “people that make us mad” (even if it is imagined) vs. “people that are bad” point to a societal failure to come to grips with issues of mental health, poverty, and racism.
I ready the story Doug. My comment wasn’t just strictly on this piece (ok I wasn’t clear on that). The fact is there are a lot of people protesting what happened a couple days ago simply because a black male was killed and not knowing or caring about any other facts. On top of that going batshit after finding out the gun was fake, as if they would have done something different if there were in the officer’s shoes.
bob dorn says
Used to be, many cops would carry around a cheap Saturday Night Special to drop near the body. Now all they need to do is carry a toy gun with them for “apparent cause.”
John Rutherford says
Does Chief Zimmerman realize that we can hear her when she speaks? Doesn’t she realize that the body camera is part of that officer and public safety concern issue? There would be far fewer questions about the officers’ behavior if they had only turned on their body cameras as is department protocol and the public would feel safer knowing the officers were being monitored. This thing just doesn’t smell right.