Posts Tagged Dan Hughes
Tonight the council will rush to promote captain Hughes to police chief; the very man who was supposed to be leading the patrol division when his officers earned themselves murder charges just last year.
Please take a look at this piece by Ryan Cantor titled “Fullerton: Don’t Railroad Dan Hughes.”
It’s not easy to do damage control when you keep inviting more questions that you are pretending to answer. Of course when you are dealing with the incurious stooges at the OC Register maybe you believe you’re getting away with it.
The latest episode in the FPD PR campaign is an attempt by Acting Chief Dan Hughes to deflect criticism by acknowledging the error of letting his cops watch the Kelly Thomas murder video before writing their reports, a thing he finally admits he’s never heard of before.
Hughes said he argued against letting the officers watch the tape, in part because civilians suspected of misconduct would not be given the same opportunity. He said he did not think it was illegal or unethical, but did fear it would erode public trust in the investigation. “That was a mistake from our department,” he said.
Here we see Danny Boy defending himself: he argued with some unnamed somebody, somewhere, somehow, against letting the killers watch the video, but we are meant to believe that he was overruled. But by whom? Chief Sellers wasn’t there. Was he contacted? He was Hughes’ only boss. Was it a fellow captain? If so what was that man’s name? Lou Ponsi doesn’t seem to be very curious. Of course there is the very real possibility that Hughes is just lying to protect himself well after the fact. And notice that the mistake was made by “the department” an entity that can’t be disciplined.
Eleven months after the fact Hughes would have us believe he was oh, so concerned about the severity of the incident. And yet we now know that last fall, many weeks after Hughes had seen the video and heard the audio, he was insinuating to protesters that the after they actually viewed the video their outrage would be mollified. Hmm.
But even as the officers collected their thoughts, crime-scene technicians and detectives were picking over the scene of the bloody confrontation with Kelly Thomas as if it had been an officer-involved shooting, Hughes said. The criminal case now facing two of those officers, he said, was built in large part on the police work done by their own department.
But, he said, it was Fullerton police work that put Fullerton police officers in criminal court. He pointed to the words of District Attorney Tony Rackauckas: “They went to the scene, they preserved the evidence, they did all the things they were supposed to do.”
A video of the confrontation spliced with audio from the officers’ recordings, produced by the Fullerton police, was the centerpiece of a recent preliminary hearing for Ramos and Cicinelli. They were ordered to stand trial, Ramos on charges of second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter, Cicinelli on charges of involuntary manslaughter and excessive force.
“It doesn’t matter who the defendants are,” Hughes said. “We are part of the prosecution team.”
Oh, brother, what a load of unadulterated bullshit passed along by the compliant scribes at the Register. Nobody “picked over” anything. We’ve already shown pictures of cops trampling all over the crime scene, and as far as collecting evidence is concerned, the only things collected were the cell phones and camera film of witnesses who happened to record the murder. The idea of the FPD investigating itself is utterly comical.
And, ultimately it’s still all about “poor communication,” really. Not much worse than a little bad luck if you think about it.
“I don’t believe there was any intention at all to mislead our community,” Hughes said. But, he added, “we should have did a better job” of communicating – a common theme in his account of the aftermath of Kelly Thomas’ death. In the future, he said, he and his top commanders will handle public communication duties during major incidents.
The department, he said, “did a very poor job of communicating to the community.”
Unfortunately the slug who was tasked with public communication, and who failed so dismally either through incompetence or malice, was actually just promoted a few weeks ago. What’s that Dan, we can’t hear you?
Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t point out just a couple of the of the other instances of biased writing by the pathetic little fool, Ponsi. We have seen the obnoxious description of the cops “collecting their thoughts” as opposed to, say, “getting their stories straight.” You can’t note how Thomas is described as “rangy” a term that is certainly more threatening than “skinny,” because this has now been removed out of the post. But there is still the utterly objectionable use of the phrase: “As the confrontation escalated,” a literary device meant to deflect responsibility for the crime from the cops Ramos and Wolfe to some unknown cosmic force. Things just happen.
When FPD Acting Chief Dan Hughes was handed the keys to the front door, wishful thinkers proclaimed the dawn of a new day for a department reeling from humiliating self-inflicted wounds.
His supporters claimed that Dan, for some mysterious reason, was going to bring decency and reform to a department whose members had, within the short space of seven months been exposed as thugs, perjurers, thieves, con men, sex perverts, destroyers of evidence, thieves (again and again), etc., etc. Despite a 30-year FPD career and various job titles that closely tied him to this band of miscreants, Dan is Different, his defenders said. Somehow. A veritable Galahad, in fact.
Even when Dan denied a Culture of Corruption in the FPD and said such an idea was disseminated by liars or ignoramuses, his supporters clung to the idea that Dan is Different.
But Dan’s latest decision may provide cause for pause. According to the folks at FullertonStories Hughes has replaced the otiose Andrew Goodrich with yet another union member, Sergeant Jeff Stuart, to be an official department spokeshole and Face of Fullerton. Really? Has Hughes learned nothing from the misinformation peddler, Goodrich. Maybe not. Or maybe he likes the idea of the FPOA getting the first, and often the last shot at misleading the public.
Haven’t we had enough of public information officers whose loyalty to their own tribe is far greater than that to their employers? To me this just looks like more of the same ‘ol same ‘ol: another opportunity to do the right thing has been passed over by Acting Chief Hughes, who is acting more and more like Chief Sellers all the time.
Yesterday, the OC Register did a story about the Fullerton jail house death of Dean Francis Gochenour, and the role played by Vincent Mater, who smashed his DAR against a steel door in order to destroy the evidence it contained.
Our Acting Chief, Dan Hughes, was unusually chatty.
For instance, he shares with trusted police scribe Lou Ponsi the fact that an internal investigation was concluded by June 20, 2011, that discipline was recommended by Hughes, himself, and then Mater quit on August 2: I made recommendations for discipline and in that process, he resigned,” Hughes said.
So let us ponder a few things. Mater destroys his DAR in mid April, and disciplinary action is started over two months later? And what is this disciplinary “process?” Hard to say; it may have included firing the creep, but if so the process is designed to permit the perp to quit first. And that’s a shame because in the case of Mater we already know he was considered by the DA to be a Brady Cop, (i.e. unfit for court testimony due to unfamiliarity with the truth). We also know that he was complicit in some way in the wrongful incarceration of Emanuel Martinez.
Whatever this so-called discipline process entailed (including, no doubt, union exacted rights for appeal hearings, ad nauseam), Mater decided his best option was to walk away, perhaps to try his luck as a cop somewhere else. So Mater quietly went his merry way on August 2, 2011 – curiously, just as the Kelly Thomas murder protests were starting in earnest.
And now, for the $64,000 question: what was going on between the FPD and the DAs office between August 2 2011 and March 13, 2012? Seven and a half months had passed since Mater’s departure; eleven months had passed since the original crime. It would appear to the outsider that nothing was going to happen at all.
And then somebody changed their mind. I wonder why.
An emergency parent meeting was called at Beechwood school last night to explain that a teacher had been placed on administrative leave and that the police department was conducting an investigation into…well, something they’re not allowed to tell us about. The Chief was adamant that there was no evidence that a crime was committed or that any students were involved, which makes you wonder what he’s “investigating” in the first place.
It’s interesting to watch Superintendent Hovey and interim Police Chief Hughes struggle with a new-found interest in transparency, releasing only enough information to scare people about what the teacher might have done. Parents in the room didn’t seem to appreciate the lack of detail. One mother even came to tears trying to figure out if anything had happened to her own child (25 minutes in).
An attentive resident brought us this video of the meeting:
UPDATE: School Board Trustee Chris Thompson posted this comment addressing the question of what the board currently knows about the investigation:
I do not mind being held accountable. For clarity’s sake, I have NOT been briefed on any aspect of this story beyond the information which has been made publicly available in the meeting posted here. I have made it clear to Dr. Hovey that I believe that fact is inhibiting my ability to do my job as a trustee. Dr. Hovey informed me that he had been advised by the district’s law firm as to what information he could and could not give to the board members. He did confirm that he knows more than we do. As the law firm’s primary role is to limit the districts liability, there is no surprise there. Unfortunately, my role is to be 1/5th of an independently elected body whose job it is to ensure that our district does the right and smart thing, and I cannot very well do that if I am “managed” by the district’s lawyer. I believe that the theory is that if the board members are informed of the details of the investigation prior to the conclusion of the investigation that our impartiality will be brought into question if any decisions need to be made by the board as a result of the investigation. I don’t buy it. The people elected us to oversee this government entity and the entity itself is preventing us from knowing the details of what is going on within our own walls. At the risk of sounding self-important, I thought we were in charge.
Having said that, I would not personally use the phrase cover-up at this point. I will not quietly sit by uninformed for any extended length of time. This situation is three days old and we are talking about an elementary school. The individual who is the focus of whatever it is we are investigating has been administratively removed from the classroom and we are being told that there is zero evidence of any direct impact to children. My first step is really what I am doing here. Making it known publicly that I think it is a mistake to withhold the details of the investigation from the board.
Ostensibly, the board would be able to offer some comfort to the community…or some guidance to management about we believe we should proceed. I have no idea if I even agree that there should be an investigation.
As a final comment, I want make it clear that I believe it is exceedingly likely that both Mitch Hovey and Dan Hughes are doing what they believe to be best for the children and the community. I also believe that it is my job to review all of the knowable circumstances in order to determine whether I concur with Dr. Hovey’s actions. I have no way of doing that now.