By Crescenzo Vellucci
Vanguard Sacramento Bureau Chief
SACRAMENTO – It wasn’t necessarily a good day Thursday for Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones.
The county – rather, the taxpayers – had to hand over tens of thousands of dollars to two Black Lives Matter Sacramento activists because of Jones’ mistakes.
The Sheriff – rather the taxpayers – also had to cough up about $160,000 and 1,100 pages of internal affairs files he had boxed away about the controversial shooting of a mentally ill, and unarmed Black man three years ago.
Both bits of bad news were made public Thursday, almost as though a media affairs person convinced the county to have just day of bad news – throw it all in – rather than have to log multiple bad news days.
In any case, it wasn’t good news for COVID-19 caused, financially-strapped Sacramento County.
The Mikel McIntyre files – which also cost taxpayers, not Jones or the County, about $163,000 in lawyer fees – were made public after the Sacramento Bee sued to get them. Black Lives Matter also pushed the Sheriff in this case, holding protests, rallies and other events challenging the Sheriff to release them.
Taxpayers also foot the $1.725 million bill when the county settled with the McIntyre family.
In the end, although the shooting was deemed “good” by the District Attorney Office and internal affairs – sparking more outrage by BLM and the community – former county Inspector General Rick Braziel, former Sacramento Police Dept. chief, disagreed, calling the shooting “excessive.”
Braziel said the 28 shots fired at unarmed McIntyre during Highway 50 traffic were dangerous – Jones responded by locking the IG out of his office. He eventually lost his job as IG after Jones refused to work with him.
Jones’ action to silence an IG predated the actions of a man Jones greatly admires: President Trump, who has fired four IGs to seemingly avoid oversight.
“The Sheriff should be ashamed of himself. They flat-out executed (McIntyre). The way they gave the story is completely different than what we saw on video. Now we know exactly why the Sheriff didn’t want to release that video. They hunted him down and they executed him. And it was unnecessary,” said Tanya Faison, founder of BLM Sacramento.
Sheriff Jones also had to pay – taxpayers actually did, according to the other announcement Thursday, Faison, and Sonia Lewis of Liberation Collective for Black Sacramento, $16,000 each – a total of $152,000, including lawyer fees, straight from the COVID-19 ravaged taxpayer-funded general fund.
Jones had banned the two advocates from his social media Facebook account because he didn’t like comments they posted about him on his official page.
Jones followed in Trump’s steps this time. The President tried to ban someone from his social media pages but a judge ruled he could not. In Jones’ case, a judge told the Sheriff to unban the two activists.
The ACLU sued Jones for Faison and Lewis, claiming a violation of their 1st Amendment rights after Jones deleted their comments from his FB page.
“I am happy with the outcome, and that Scott decided to settle. Hopefully, this experience prevents others from having their constitutional rights violated by elected officials. Particularly by those elected to uphold the law. Scott referred to this dollar amount as a ‘nuisance’ and let that be the reason he settled. This is a perfect example of his lack of regard for his constituents, who constantly foot the bill of every single lawsuit he has settled on, including this one,” said Faison.
“Scott did not foot the bill, the County taxpayers did, and the total amount of settlement was $152,000, including the attorney’s fees. This was about our rights according to the constitution. We didn’t expect any dollar amount. What we do expect is to have our rights respected, every time we interact with law enforcement and our elected officials. Hopefully when he is out of office, this won’t be such a common issue,” Faison added.
Lewis said more of the same.
““This lawsuit is a victory in my eyes, and I hope it sends a clear message to Jones and others that he/they serve us, not the other way around. Over the past several years, many in community have witnessed Sheriff Scott Jones basically thumb his nose at the most fragile and vocal in the community because we have expressed concerns about his lack of professionalism and leadership. This lawsuit is one of many against Jones and the department for neglecting to serve and protect ALL citizens and visitors of Sacramento County,” Lewis said.
“He owes the taxpayers of this county access, accountability and transparency. I am personally going to challenge any elected official who makes me feel as if the system is reflective of ‘taxation without representation,’ which Jones has. I am appreciative to the ACLU for helping us fight Jones’s clear abuses of power in blocking constituents from his social media pages while attempting to further racially/socioeconomically divide this county and disenfranchise certain demographics of our community,” added Lewis.
Jones did make a public statement affirming he will continue to do what he’s been doing no matter what, but not commenting on what his steadfastness is costing county taxpayers – by Thursday’s one day count: $315,000. Including the McIntyre payout: a little bit more than $2 million.
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