Some Officials Starting to Buckle Under the Pressure –
Following the press conference, individuals filed in the County of Board of Supervisors to press their case before that body. The supervisors resisted calling for an investigation at this time however, opting instead to let the current investigation run its course. District Attorney Jeff Reisig has said that he will forward the results to the California Attorney General’s office for review.
“At this time, the Attorney General’s Office feels that the Woodland Police Department is adequately undertaking this investigation, however, they stand ready to participate in the review of the investigation.”
Al Rojas, addressing the newsconference on Tuesday morning said:
“Many people have said this is a Woodland issue, that’s not necessarily true. This is an issue that concerns us all as human rights concerns that we all have and this is one issues that effects everyone in this county… Today we’re hear to demand the answer to the question that most people in this county are asking, the question is why–why did Luis Gutierrez get killed and what is happening?”
He then went on to “demand” that the Board of Supervisors take a position that would call for an independent investigation into the death of Mr. Gutierrez. He would later call for the county dropping gang-suppression efforts until this case is resolved, a call that was shrugged off by Sheriff Prieto on Tuesday.
The Sheriff has apparently become frustrated by what he calls “false accusations.”
He told KCRA Channel 3 in Sacramento Tuesday:
“In all honesty, I’m not overly concerned about statements made against me, but I do get concerned about false accusations against the officers involved. Just because certain individuals want us to refrain from dealing with gangs in Woodland, West Sacramento, and throughout Yolo County, is not something I’m going to respond to.”
Mr. Prieto went on to argue that he is waiting for answers to come out:
“So it doesn’t really matter who does the investigation. Facts are facts, and the truth will prevail.”
I have to respectfully disagree with the Sheriff there–there is a reason why one generally asks an independent third party to review a case and there is a reason why his own department is not doing the investigation.
Mr. Prieto is not the only one frustrated or the only one who is saying things that are probably better left unspoken. Speaking for the first time on Tuesday, Woodland Police Chief Carey Sullivan spoke out for the first time calling “hypocritical” statements from those calling for an independent investigation.
His statement, reported in the Woodland Daily Democrat, came at the Woodland City Council meeting:
“The men and women in the Woodland Police Department have been working many long and hard hours to complete this investigation. They have been collecting evidence and doing so objectively and fairly… We have not engaged in a public this discussion of this issue in order not to taint this investigation. The integrity of this investigation is of utmost importance to us.
“I would like to say that it angers me when a person insults the integrity of this organization and this community by on one hand calling for a fair and objective investigation and on the other hand calling the Woodland Police Department complicit with the Sheriff’s Department… This is totally hypocritical statement. These officers are upholding the law and are dedicated to protecting the citizens of the city of Woodland, and they work long and hard at doing so.”
Um, I don’t think the Police Chief wanted to use the word hypocritical. There is nothing hypocritical about Mr. Rojas and others calling for an independent investigation. I understand that the Police Chief would take exception to the implications that the Woodland Police Department being complicit with the Sheriff’s Department. I also think however, the Police Chief needs to understand that for the most part these are not personal criticisms of his department, but rather concerns about the perception that law enforcement may not be able to adequately investigate the actions of other law enforcement agencies. There is a reason why independent investigations are generally the rule in such things and they have as much to do with the perception and the need for distance.
In short, the Police Chief needs to chill out and continue to do his job rather than make such inflammatory comments and using words that clearly are used out of context without the proper meaning associated with them. When the Police Chief calls something “hypocritical,” it shows he has lost his cool and perspective on this issue. Maybe it really is time for him to recuse his department from this investigation.
Will Lotter, a longtime Davis resident made the comment at the Board of Supervisors meeting that probably best sums up the position of many calling for an independent investigation.
Reported in the Woodland Daily Democrat:
Lotter said he was disappointed supervisors didn’t call for an outside agency.
“I’m not saying that the Woodland Police Department might not come up with an accurate investigation report, but it would confirm whatever they put up with an outside agency — and if there’s a difference then it has to be investigated,” he said, adding that there is a lot of public concern about the case.
Those words are how the Woodland Police Department ought to views these calls for independent investigation. It is not that people do not trust them, it is that they want to have complete confidence in the results and have no possibility of questions that the matter was investigated impartially and thoroughly. Until that happens, these calls are likely to only get louder.
If the Police Chief is getting irritated now, wait until the results come out. The Vanguard respectfully suggests that the Police Chief get some perspective on this very quickly or things will get far worse.
—David M. Greenwald reporting