Complaint Sustained for Rude Conduct by Davis Police Officer

On the night of December 26, 2006, Lasonja Porter, an African-American and a longtime Davis resident was driving home late at night from some errands. It had been raining heavily that evening, the roads were slick and the visibility low. Not far from her residence, her vehicle hit the curb, incapacitating her vehicle and requiring a tow.

“My husband and my son decided to stay by the car and wait for the tow truck. As they waited for the tow truck the Davis police came by and said ‘can I help you?’ They said, ‘no, our tow truck is on the way. ‘”

For reasons not completely clear, instead of helping the stranded family out, the police officer decided to make their life more difficult. According to Ms. Porter, the officer told them that if the tow truck did not come in five minutes, they would call their own. And in fact, the police officer did call their own tow truck.

While they were waiting for tow truck to arrive, Ms. Porter’s husband asked the police officer how his Christmas was. Instead of making polite conversation, the officer lashed out.

“He said, ‘you don’t give an ‘f’ about my Christmas.’ He just went off on my husband.”

Both tow trucks would arrive at the same time, however, the police insisted that their tow truck remove the car and take the vehicle to Dixon.

“I was questioning why did they do this. What for–the car was waiting on a tow truck. They said nope, they’re not going to give back the car. I explained to them that it was my manager’s car, they didn’t care. I told them that this is really harassment.”

Upon request, Ms. Porter received the police report the next day.

“When I got the police report, I was very stunned. The police report read–‘when I noticed who the suspect was, I immediately called Eric Labbe to the scene.'”

Ms. Porter explained to me that Eric Laabe was a police officer who had a history with herself and her husband. They had previously filed a complaint against him because of the aggressive manner in which he had interacted with them.

They had a series of meetings with the police, but it took a meeting with then interim Chief Steve Pierce for the police to finally agree to pay for the tow truck. Meanwhile, Ms. Porter was forced to have pay for the car to be towed back to Davis where it would be taken to her manager’s residence to be repaired.

“Two people was there waiting on a tow truck. And the tow truck did come. At that time, they could have taken into consideration that they really was waiting on a tow truck and let me leave, but they didn’t. Because when Eric Labbe got there, he just went off. He’s a really aggressive police officer which we had complained previously for his aggressiveness. He’d cuss you out in a minute.”

“One of the witness… she’s a white lady, she heard the police officer cussing, so she left a message with Steve Pierce and told him that I did not like how he was cussing. I asked him to get on the phone, he was ‘hell no.’ I mean they was really going off that night.”

Ms. Porter then filed a complaint against the Davis police for their handling of this case. Unlike so many of these encounters, this one did not end there.

A letter dated January 8, 2008 arrived from new Davis Police Chief Landy Black. Ms. Porter admitted she almost did not read the letter, it looked like so many other letters from the Davis Police that routinely denied the validity of her previous complaints.

This one appeared to be going the same route:

“Your complaint stemmed from a December 26, 2006 encounter members of your family had with our officers on Covell Blvd., involving a traffic collision and a towed vehicle… Your complaint was thoroughly investigated. I personally review the investigation and render the final decision in matters of this nature.”

However, as I said, this one was different:

“Based on the evidence, it became clear the conduct of the Davis Police Officers whom you and/ or your family members interacted with did not meet the highest standards of conduct and service that we expect from our members. In particular I determined that your complaint of Rude Conduct had merit and a basis in fact. It has therefore been classified as SUSTAINED, meaning that there is clear and convincing evidence that the officer(s) engaged in the prohibited conduct.”

Chief Black then went on to sincerely apologize:

“I apologize for this breach of high quality, professional police service that the Davis
Police Department prides itself in and the impact that it had on you and your family. It is our desire that these sorts of breaches are not repeated. Your complaint has served to make us aware of this shortcoming and steps will be taken to improve our ability to serve the community respectful fashion.”

Commentary:

When this letter was forwarded to me, I had a similar reaction that Ms. Porter did. I almost did not read it. And through the first almost paragraph and a half, it read like any other denial of claim letter. Then I read the next sentence:

“Based on the evidence, it became clear the conduct of the Davis Police Officers whom you and/ or your family members interacted with did not meet the highest standards of conduct and service that we expect from our members.”

I was stunned. For the first time since I have been involved in that process, there is a glimmer of hope.

For Lasonja Porter it is a validity and legitimacy, letting all know that she has a legitimate complaint about the way she has been repeatedly and routinely treated by the Davis Police Department. It will not be nearly as easy to dismiss her futures complaints about the treatment given to her by members of the Davis Police.

For the rest of the community it is the promise that this may in fact really be a new day. That the new chief is serious when he talks about professional standards for the conduct of his police officers and that he is willing to hold them accountable when they breech the public’s trust and do not up hold the highest standards of quality and professional police service.

It is with great irony that we must acknowledge that when it comes to complaints against the police department, a sustained complaint actually increases one’s trust in the service provided by the police and a denied complaint decreases that trust. The reason is simple. People make mistakes. Police are people and inherently there will be times when they do not respond in manner that is indicative of their training and professio. The key is not that they may occasionally err in their ways, but rather how the police department and chain of command responds to those breaches.

Had Chief Jim Hyde responded to the complaints by the Buzayan family in this manner, it is likely that that case would have long since been over and there would be no federal law suit pending.

While this action by Chief Landy Black will not be a fix-all to the rash of community complaints against the police, it does offer us hope that those complaints will not be summarily dismissed and perhaps that will become the step by which a segment of this community can begin to regain their trust in our law enforcement.

And so on Martin Luther King, Jr. day, we hold forth the promise of a new beginning.

—Doug Paul Davis reporting

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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44 thoughts on “Complaint Sustained for Rude Conduct by Davis Police Officer”

  1. Home-less dude

    did not meet the highest standards of conduct…………..hmmmmmm, how about driving LEFT of center(twice) and parked FACING traffic??? WHY?? To go the HEAD and get coffee??
    Nice conduct. Very professional.
    Name/date/time/unit number..10-4.
    Courtesy/friendliness hasn’t been the cornerstone of this PD for years…many are okay with each other(1×1 and small groups) but just aren’t good at it with the public. Many don’t care because they don’t have to.

  2. Home-less dude

    did not meet the highest standards of conduct…………..hmmmmmm, how about driving LEFT of center(twice) and parked FACING traffic??? WHY?? To go the HEAD and get coffee??
    Nice conduct. Very professional.
    Name/date/time/unit number..10-4.
    Courtesy/friendliness hasn’t been the cornerstone of this PD for years…many are okay with each other(1×1 and small groups) but just aren’t good at it with the public. Many don’t care because they don’t have to.

  3. Home-less dude

    did not meet the highest standards of conduct…………..hmmmmmm, how about driving LEFT of center(twice) and parked FACING traffic??? WHY?? To go the HEAD and get coffee??
    Nice conduct. Very professional.
    Name/date/time/unit number..10-4.
    Courtesy/friendliness hasn’t been the cornerstone of this PD for years…many are okay with each other(1×1 and small groups) but just aren’t good at it with the public. Many don’t care because they don’t have to.

  4. Home-less dude

    did not meet the highest standards of conduct…………..hmmmmmm, how about driving LEFT of center(twice) and parked FACING traffic??? WHY?? To go the HEAD and get coffee??
    Nice conduct. Very professional.
    Name/date/time/unit number..10-4.
    Courtesy/friendliness hasn’t been the cornerstone of this PD for years…many are okay with each other(1×1 and small groups) but just aren’t good at it with the public. Many don’t care because they don’t have to.

  5. Anonymous

    When I first read about the incident, I’d have guessed the officer to be DeBerry, but it seems there’s more than one moron on the force.
    Hopefully, this will change with the new Chief. This is really encouraging!
    PS….Hope Black gets them to shape up, too, as they are about the least fit force I’ve ever seen.

  6. Anonymous

    When I first read about the incident, I’d have guessed the officer to be DeBerry, but it seems there’s more than one moron on the force.
    Hopefully, this will change with the new Chief. This is really encouraging!
    PS….Hope Black gets them to shape up, too, as they are about the least fit force I’ve ever seen.

  7. Anonymous

    When I first read about the incident, I’d have guessed the officer to be DeBerry, but it seems there’s more than one moron on the force.
    Hopefully, this will change with the new Chief. This is really encouraging!
    PS….Hope Black gets them to shape up, too, as they are about the least fit force I’ve ever seen.

  8. Anonymous

    When I first read about the incident, I’d have guessed the officer to be DeBerry, but it seems there’s more than one moron on the force.
    Hopefully, this will change with the new Chief. This is really encouraging!
    PS….Hope Black gets them to shape up, too, as they are about the least fit force I’ve ever seen.

  9. My Experiences w Davis Police

    All my experiences with Davis Police have been positive ones. In fact, when I first moved to Davis, I became dreadfully ill, and had to be taken by ambulance to the Davis Hospital. My three children were very young at the time (I was a single mom), just toddlers. A police officer locked up my house, took my three children to the station for the night – where they were very well cared for.

    Some six or seven hours later, after I had been stabilized enough to go home, the same police officer brought my children back to the hospital, took us all home, and gave me his card if I ever needed any further assistance. Since I was new to the neighborhood, he also advised me to get to know my neighbors, solid advice which I took to heart.

    On another occasion, Davis police assisted with the apprehension of a gang member who assaulted my son. Unfortunately a drunk college student landed in the hospital in acute care, before this criminal was taken off the streets.

    However, I am dismayed to think a police officer would engage in the sort of behavior reported here. It reflects badly on the entire police department, because it becomes a breach of the public trust. I have no doubt the majority of officers in Davis are dedicated law enforcment employees who risk their lives to be of service to their community.

    Chief Landy Black is to be commended for stepping up to the plate, and doing the right thing. My fervent hope is that the officer in question will be made to realize he must change, or find other employment. One bad apple can spoil an entire barrel, if left to rot too long.

    Bottom line: the police are our last line of defense between us and the criminal element. The police officer in question should have politely waited with the family to ensure their tow truck came in a timely manner, in an effort to keep them safe late at night. Chief Landy Black certainly seems to be making sure the public feels better knowing our police department is roving the streets to keep us safe. In other words the police should be perceived as the solution, not the problem!

  10. My Experiences w Davis Police

    All my experiences with Davis Police have been positive ones. In fact, when I first moved to Davis, I became dreadfully ill, and had to be taken by ambulance to the Davis Hospital. My three children were very young at the time (I was a single mom), just toddlers. A police officer locked up my house, took my three children to the station for the night – where they were very well cared for.

    Some six or seven hours later, after I had been stabilized enough to go home, the same police officer brought my children back to the hospital, took us all home, and gave me his card if I ever needed any further assistance. Since I was new to the neighborhood, he also advised me to get to know my neighbors, solid advice which I took to heart.

    On another occasion, Davis police assisted with the apprehension of a gang member who assaulted my son. Unfortunately a drunk college student landed in the hospital in acute care, before this criminal was taken off the streets.

    However, I am dismayed to think a police officer would engage in the sort of behavior reported here. It reflects badly on the entire police department, because it becomes a breach of the public trust. I have no doubt the majority of officers in Davis are dedicated law enforcment employees who risk their lives to be of service to their community.

    Chief Landy Black is to be commended for stepping up to the plate, and doing the right thing. My fervent hope is that the officer in question will be made to realize he must change, or find other employment. One bad apple can spoil an entire barrel, if left to rot too long.

    Bottom line: the police are our last line of defense between us and the criminal element. The police officer in question should have politely waited with the family to ensure their tow truck came in a timely manner, in an effort to keep them safe late at night. Chief Landy Black certainly seems to be making sure the public feels better knowing our police department is roving the streets to keep us safe. In other words the police should be perceived as the solution, not the problem!

  11. My Experiences w Davis Police

    All my experiences with Davis Police have been positive ones. In fact, when I first moved to Davis, I became dreadfully ill, and had to be taken by ambulance to the Davis Hospital. My three children were very young at the time (I was a single mom), just toddlers. A police officer locked up my house, took my three children to the station for the night – where they were very well cared for.

    Some six or seven hours later, after I had been stabilized enough to go home, the same police officer brought my children back to the hospital, took us all home, and gave me his card if I ever needed any further assistance. Since I was new to the neighborhood, he also advised me to get to know my neighbors, solid advice which I took to heart.

    On another occasion, Davis police assisted with the apprehension of a gang member who assaulted my son. Unfortunately a drunk college student landed in the hospital in acute care, before this criminal was taken off the streets.

    However, I am dismayed to think a police officer would engage in the sort of behavior reported here. It reflects badly on the entire police department, because it becomes a breach of the public trust. I have no doubt the majority of officers in Davis are dedicated law enforcment employees who risk their lives to be of service to their community.

    Chief Landy Black is to be commended for stepping up to the plate, and doing the right thing. My fervent hope is that the officer in question will be made to realize he must change, or find other employment. One bad apple can spoil an entire barrel, if left to rot too long.

    Bottom line: the police are our last line of defense between us and the criminal element. The police officer in question should have politely waited with the family to ensure their tow truck came in a timely manner, in an effort to keep them safe late at night. Chief Landy Black certainly seems to be making sure the public feels better knowing our police department is roving the streets to keep us safe. In other words the police should be perceived as the solution, not the problem!

  12. My Experiences w Davis Police

    All my experiences with Davis Police have been positive ones. In fact, when I first moved to Davis, I became dreadfully ill, and had to be taken by ambulance to the Davis Hospital. My three children were very young at the time (I was a single mom), just toddlers. A police officer locked up my house, took my three children to the station for the night – where they were very well cared for.

    Some six or seven hours later, after I had been stabilized enough to go home, the same police officer brought my children back to the hospital, took us all home, and gave me his card if I ever needed any further assistance. Since I was new to the neighborhood, he also advised me to get to know my neighbors, solid advice which I took to heart.

    On another occasion, Davis police assisted with the apprehension of a gang member who assaulted my son. Unfortunately a drunk college student landed in the hospital in acute care, before this criminal was taken off the streets.

    However, I am dismayed to think a police officer would engage in the sort of behavior reported here. It reflects badly on the entire police department, because it becomes a breach of the public trust. I have no doubt the majority of officers in Davis are dedicated law enforcment employees who risk their lives to be of service to their community.

    Chief Landy Black is to be commended for stepping up to the plate, and doing the right thing. My fervent hope is that the officer in question will be made to realize he must change, or find other employment. One bad apple can spoil an entire barrel, if left to rot too long.

    Bottom line: the police are our last line of defense between us and the criminal element. The police officer in question should have politely waited with the family to ensure their tow truck came in a timely manner, in an effort to keep them safe late at night. Chief Landy Black certainly seems to be making sure the public feels better knowing our police department is roving the streets to keep us safe. In other words the police should be perceived as the solution, not the problem!

  13. Anonymous

    One day we will be able to discuss issues like this without bringing up “segments” of the community. At that point, MLK will have achieved his goal.

    The action of the Police Chief offers all of us hope!

  14. Anonymous

    One day we will be able to discuss issues like this without bringing up “segments” of the community. At that point, MLK will have achieved his goal.

    The action of the Police Chief offers all of us hope!

  15. Anonymous

    One day we will be able to discuss issues like this without bringing up “segments” of the community. At that point, MLK will have achieved his goal.

    The action of the Police Chief offers all of us hope!

  16. Anonymous

    One day we will be able to discuss issues like this without bringing up “segments” of the community. At that point, MLK will have achieved his goal.

    The action of the Police Chief offers all of us hope!

  17. Anonymous

    As a member of one of the “Segments” let me that you Vanguard for the fine reporting in this area. We have been sweeping such issues under the rug for way too long.

  18. Anonymous

    As a member of one of the “Segments” let me that you Vanguard for the fine reporting in this area. We have been sweeping such issues under the rug for way too long.

  19. Anonymous

    As a member of one of the “Segments” let me that you Vanguard for the fine reporting in this area. We have been sweeping such issues under the rug for way too long.

  20. Anonymous

    As a member of one of the “Segments” let me that you Vanguard for the fine reporting in this area. We have been sweeping such issues under the rug for way too long.

  21. Anonymous

    I join those who have had several negative experiences with the prevailing “bad attitude” of the DPD officers. A few years ago at 8th and J a predatory officer was parked a 1/3 of a block south of the intersection and zoomed out of the shadows to give me a ticket at 11 at night for “sliding through the stop sign” (although I clearly stopped at the sign which is some 12 feet east of the intersection where the officer was mis-perceiving that I hadn’t fully stopped). When I argued my case to him he was quickly belligerent and called up reinforcements who were no less understanding when I repeated to them my observation that the officer parking 200 feet away in the shadows on a traffic-less street was a lot like the New Yorker cartoons of highway cops waiting behind a billboard to catch speeders. No literary sensitivities among these DPD folks.
    Thanks to the Vanguard for reporting on the pattern of surliness among our police and the rare case of police leadership sustaining a citizen complaint.

  22. Anonymous

    I join those who have had several negative experiences with the prevailing “bad attitude” of the DPD officers. A few years ago at 8th and J a predatory officer was parked a 1/3 of a block south of the intersection and zoomed out of the shadows to give me a ticket at 11 at night for “sliding through the stop sign” (although I clearly stopped at the sign which is some 12 feet east of the intersection where the officer was mis-perceiving that I hadn’t fully stopped). When I argued my case to him he was quickly belligerent and called up reinforcements who were no less understanding when I repeated to them my observation that the officer parking 200 feet away in the shadows on a traffic-less street was a lot like the New Yorker cartoons of highway cops waiting behind a billboard to catch speeders. No literary sensitivities among these DPD folks.
    Thanks to the Vanguard for reporting on the pattern of surliness among our police and the rare case of police leadership sustaining a citizen complaint.

  23. Anonymous

    I join those who have had several negative experiences with the prevailing “bad attitude” of the DPD officers. A few years ago at 8th and J a predatory officer was parked a 1/3 of a block south of the intersection and zoomed out of the shadows to give me a ticket at 11 at night for “sliding through the stop sign” (although I clearly stopped at the sign which is some 12 feet east of the intersection where the officer was mis-perceiving that I hadn’t fully stopped). When I argued my case to him he was quickly belligerent and called up reinforcements who were no less understanding when I repeated to them my observation that the officer parking 200 feet away in the shadows on a traffic-less street was a lot like the New Yorker cartoons of highway cops waiting behind a billboard to catch speeders. No literary sensitivities among these DPD folks.
    Thanks to the Vanguard for reporting on the pattern of surliness among our police and the rare case of police leadership sustaining a citizen complaint.

  24. Anonymous

    I join those who have had several negative experiences with the prevailing “bad attitude” of the DPD officers. A few years ago at 8th and J a predatory officer was parked a 1/3 of a block south of the intersection and zoomed out of the shadows to give me a ticket at 11 at night for “sliding through the stop sign” (although I clearly stopped at the sign which is some 12 feet east of the intersection where the officer was mis-perceiving that I hadn’t fully stopped). When I argued my case to him he was quickly belligerent and called up reinforcements who were no less understanding when I repeated to them my observation that the officer parking 200 feet away in the shadows on a traffic-less street was a lot like the New Yorker cartoons of highway cops waiting behind a billboard to catch speeders. No literary sensitivities among these DPD folks.
    Thanks to the Vanguard for reporting on the pattern of surliness among our police and the rare case of police leadership sustaining a citizen complaint.

  25. Anonymous

    To the person who got the Ticket at 8th and J.
    I live near the corner of 8th and J and have watched inumerable cars and bikes run through that stop sign. I have also witnessed lots of near misses due to people not making a complete stop.
    I think it is absolutely hilarious that you got a ticket and are complaining about a ticket you deserved.
    You are the predator and don’t know it.

  26. Anonymous

    To the person who got the Ticket at 8th and J.
    I live near the corner of 8th and J and have watched inumerable cars and bikes run through that stop sign. I have also witnessed lots of near misses due to people not making a complete stop.
    I think it is absolutely hilarious that you got a ticket and are complaining about a ticket you deserved.
    You are the predator and don’t know it.

  27. Anonymous

    To the person who got the Ticket at 8th and J.
    I live near the corner of 8th and J and have watched inumerable cars and bikes run through that stop sign. I have also witnessed lots of near misses due to people not making a complete stop.
    I think it is absolutely hilarious that you got a ticket and are complaining about a ticket you deserved.
    You are the predator and don’t know it.

  28. Anonymous

    To the person who got the Ticket at 8th and J.
    I live near the corner of 8th and J and have watched inumerable cars and bikes run through that stop sign. I have also witnessed lots of near misses due to people not making a complete stop.
    I think it is absolutely hilarious that you got a ticket and are complaining about a ticket you deserved.
    You are the predator and don’t know it.

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