Another week has gone by without the National City Police Department coming clean about what happened to Earl McNeil, who never regained consciousness after being taken into custody on May 27. He passed on at UCSD Medical Center on June 11.
The man may be dead, but he’s not been forgotten. The story of his arrest and the lack of transparency about what happened afterward have begun to attract national attention, thanks to the persistence of community activists.
The fourth consecutive protest at a National City Council meeting brought police in riot gear from six agencies around San Diego County. Platoons of cops marched up and down outside the meeting, forcing the two dozen or so demonstrators off the sidewalks for no apparent reason.
Inside the council chambers, six people presented themselves to the council at the end of the public comments period, hands facing outward smeared in red, chanting “you’ve got blood on your hands.”
Tasha Williamson, Amie Zamudio, Henri Jourdain, Aeiramique Meeka, Blair Overstreet and Aaryn Belfer were arrested after they laid down on the floor as the meeting was declared over by National City Mayor Ron Morrison. All six have been released from jail as of this morning.
There were additional developments this week.
Max Rivlin-Nadler’s article in The Appeal revealed that the deceased man had testified as a jailhouse informant in a high profile double murder case. He later recanted his testimony and told people he was living in fear of retribution by the District Attorney’s office.
In 2004, according to court documents, McNeil shared information about the murders with investigators while he was at the same jail as Carter, who had been booked on an unrelated charge. During the interview, McNeil acknowledges that he had no firsthand knowledge about the murders and says that his information came from a conversation he had with Carter after the shooting and before either of them were incarcerated. During the 2011 trial, McNeil testified about Carter for a full day, despite objections by the defense that he had given conflicting statements to investigators about what he knew. He later recanted his testimony to a private investigator working on behalf of Carter’s family. In an audio clip played for The Appeal,a man who identifies himself as McNeil claims he lied on the witness stand.
“I would tell them I was lying. I lied,” McNeil says on the recording. “I was coerced. I was in a pretty desperate situation. Prison is crazy, man.”
The National City PD shared some limited information with Earl McNeil’s family on Monday. A press release issued by the department indicated the family heard an outline of the chain of events on May 26, “from the first police contact with Mr. McNeil, to transport to County Jail to his removal from the patrol car to being placed in an ambulance at the County Jail’s intake area.”
While the NCPD told the family “Mr. McNeil was responsive (talking, yelling, and alert) during the entire time he was in the custody of the National City Police Department,” it didn’t cover the County Jail’s refusal to process him.
Family members question bruises and other injuries they said they saw on McNeil’s head and face. [Attorney Doug] Applegate said the family is still asking for all body camera, surveillance and dashcam video related to McNeil’s death. He said the family was told National City Police are following the protocol of San Diego County regarding an in-custody death.
The Medical Examiner’s report is expected to be finished mid-August. At that point, National City Police can complete their investigation as they need the findings from the Medical Examiner’s Office.
Most everybody who attended Tuesday night’s protest observed that the reaction by law enforcement authorities was overkill.
Although KNSD/NBC7 later retracted last week’s story, claims made in their initial coverage about Black Lives Matter coming to riot in the future certainly could have been connected to this week’s massive police response.
Activist Mark made the connection on Facebook:
Make no mistake about it, we faced riot police from 6 departments last night at national city council meeting as a direct result of reporter wendy fry falsely reporting last week, that “we promised to riot in the streets. ” if you didn’t understand why we responded so hard and quickly to her statements last week, this is why. Her statements immediately put people of color in harm’s way. Wendy Fry is responsible for riot police marching on and confronting peaceful protesters last night.
Coverage of this week’s protest in National City by NBC7 went into great detail about the background of McNeil’s death and covered the civil disobedience inside the city council chamber in a dispassionate manner.
From the Union-Tribune:
After the protesters were detained, they were kept inside City Hall for more than two hours as tempers flared outside, where other demonstrators shouted toward a line of at least a dozen sheriff’s deputies on East 12th Street. The deputies were wearing riot helmets with face masks.
Behind the initial line stood two deputies in full SWAT gear. Dozens of other police officers from National City and Chula Vista formed a loose ring on the streets surrounding City Hall.
Shortly after 9 p.m., about five or six dozen additional officers and deputies marched down East 12th Street, outnumbering the people waiting outside the building to see the detainees brought out.
Protestors want the Medical Examiner’s office to release McNeil’s autopsy report, along with the release of the body camera footage from the incident.
Officials say the autopsy report will be released in mid-August, more than two months after McNeil’s death. The District Attorney will then make a determination on releasing any footage. Given that the DA’s office track record of exonerating suspected police misconduct it’s highly unlikely any images of malfeasance will ever see the light of day.
National City’s Council is not scheduled to meet again until September.
Another tidbit from National City:
Councilman Cano accused @monariosnc of sexual harassment, upon investigation he says it never happened. What an embarrassment to the office & National City. This guy needs to resign and pay the city back for private investigator fees. The #MeToo movement isn’t a joke #Liar #Joke https://t.co/1PT8W5LVly
— Jose Rodriguez (@5rodriguezJose) July 25, 2018
No comment needed:
“The Party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command.” – George Orwell, “1984” https://t.co/vtt0Tj8OAR
— ian bremmer (@ianbremmer) July 24, 2018
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