We’re not against the police. We’re not against the police department, but we are against police who commit misconduct (and those who help cover it up).
Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck is not holding true to his repeated pledges to make the Department more accountable and transparent.
Our latest example involves the case of Clinton Alford Jr. and our friends over at LAPD’s Newton Division. Which by the way I will say, has got to be the worst division of the LAPD.
If you recall, the 22-year-old Alford’s arrest made headlines when news broke of possible misconduct including extreme use of force by the officers involved.
Mr. Alford says that he was riding his bicycle home on Avalon Boulevard near 55th Street when he was forcefully stopped by a Latino man in plainclothes who turned out to be an undercover police officer. At that time the man did not identify himself as a police officer. Alford started to run because according to him, “unarmed young Black males have recently been killed by ‘peace’ officers or have been the recipient of bullets from gang members who have mistaken them for rival gang members.” I can’t really argue with that assessment.
According to Mr. Alford, after the officers caught up with him and even though he voluntarily laid down in the street and put his hands behind his back, he was then tased in the back and rendered disabled.
It was around this time that all hell broke loose.
According to Mr. Alford he was then beaten and repeatedly kicked in the head. He says that he was kicked so hard that a filling in his tooth fell out causing severe nerve damage and knocking him unconscious.
Alford was described by witnesses as limp and motionless after the beating and had to be carried by several officers to the patrol car.
The arrest record showed the “arresting officer” as Julio Cortez, the “second arresting officer” as Richard Garcia. Others involved include officers Tornek, Rosas, McCoy and Detective Steven Razzo.
Mr. Alford insists that at no time was he ever told that he was being detained or arrested.
When word started to leak outside of the Department about the incident the LAPD decided to issue a very vague press release without really going into details.
In the release Chief Beck said that he was “extremely concerned about this particular use of force.”
It’s hard for me to take Chief Beck seriously about his alleged extreme “concern” when this statement was made nine days after the incident and only when details of the incident had been leaked to the media. If he was as “concerned” as he claimed to be the Department would have issued the statement the day of the incident.
“Let me be very clear. Any officer that is found to abuse the public is not welcome in this department, and we will apply whatever legal or administrative means necessary to insure the community’s trust without exception,” Beck said.
Well the entire incident was recorded on video by a nearby shop. So in addition to what I described for you, according to those who have seen the tape, the video also shows that after Mr. Alford had been put in the car the officers noticed the camera on the wall and Officer Garcia (I believe) who kicked Alford, knocks on the door the business and enters the building. Now, I wonder why he did that (in my most facetious voice).
Alford was booked on suspicion of drug possession and resisting arrest and pled not guilty. Last week all of those charges were miraculously dropped against him. It probably had a lot to do with the City not wanting to give up the videotape during the discovery process and risk it being leaked to the media.
So let’s talk about that videotape.
It is currently in the possession of the Chief Beck and the LAPD and according to sources, the Chief has no plans on ever releasing it—if not compelled to do so by a court of law.
There has been no announcement by Chief Beck on the fate of the officers and detective involved or even an update on where the Department is in its investigation of the incident.
Beck, along with the officers and detective involved as well as the City of Los Angeles are the defendants in a Federal lawsuit that seeks compensatory and punitive damages on behalf of Alford.
Beck promised transparency and fairness when he took office in 2009 and again in 2014.
It’s kind of ironic that right after he’s sworn in for a second term and makes promises of yet even more accountability and transparency that Beck’s first two acts are exactly the opposite of that.
Transparency and accountability isn’t delaying the release of an autopsy report and the results of an officer-involved-shooting investigation in the death of an unarmed Black man. Nor is it refusing to release a video that shows officers engaging in the very act that Angelenos have been marching and protesting about for a week—police brutality.
Chief Beck should release the video of Clinton Alford’s beating by officers of the LAPD as a step forward in his pledge to be more transparent and accountable to the citizens of Los Angeles.
The Police Commission meets most Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. at LAPDHQs. From what I am told, there are usually plenty of seats as the public rarely shows up.