Oakland, CA. The Coalition for Police Accountability, which had called for the firing of former Oakland Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick more than a year ago, noted today that a hearing required before serious discipline actions can be taken against officers, largely agreed with the actions of the city’s independent Police Commission’s Discipline Comimitte.
This review known by a California Supreme Court ruling as the Skelly Hearing assigns an attorney with a background in police accountability to review the investigation and the actions of other disciplinary bodies which have already weighed in. In the case of the shooting death of Joshua Pawlik- a sleeping but armed homeless man who was killed after a contingent of officers confronted him in a tank-like vehicle-there were contradictory rulings.
The former chief had disagreed with some of the Skelly hearing officer’s findings and had limited the culpability of the officers involved, directly contradicting the court’s Compliance Officer Robert Warshaw and the Police Commission’s Dsicpline Committee.
This report re-affirms the decision to fire the officers who were responsible for Joshua Pawlik’s death, as well as agreeing that the Discipline Committee was justified in weighing in, and supports the Compliance Director’s findings that the officers be terminated.
Now the Skelly Officer, attorney Michael Gennaco, has confirmed most of what Robert Warshaw and the Commission decided in terms of harsher discipline measures stating:
“Each member of the team who used force had an individualized responsibility to ensure that their own use of force was reasonable. Because each member allowed a flawed deployment to move forward, offering little opportunity for Mr. Pawlik to surrender without incident, each should be held accountable for the unreasonable use of force that resulted. For those reasons, in conjunction with the arguments put forward by the Compliance Director and the Discipline Committee, this reviewer finds that Sergeant Negrete and the officers who also used force on Mr. Pawlik violated OPD’s use of force policy.”
The crux of the Coalition’s decision to call for the firing of Anne Kirkpatrick was that she was unwilling or unable to move the department toward completion of the reform tasks that would end the Negotiated Settlement Agreement, still in place after 17 years. In fact according to the judge, (under her leadership) the department was going in the wrong direction.
After the firing and the hiring of an expensive PR flack, Ms.KIrkpatrick sought to blame the oversight officer, Compliance Director Robert Warshaw, for her failures.
But as founding member of the Coalition for Police Accountability, Rashidah Grinage says, “This decision belies former Chief Anne Kirkpatrick’s claims that Compliance Director Warshaw was finding fault with her decisions in order to profit from his tenure as the NSA Monitor and Compliance Director.
Kirkpatrick’s efforts to deflect responsibility for her dismissal to the supposed self-interest of Mr. Warshaw as well as the antagonism of the Police Commission are belied by these findings, and justify her dismissal as Oakland Police Chief which the Coalition called for a year ago.”