Friday’s edition of the Orange County Register has a puff piece on how much progress Fullerton’s Police Department made in dealing with the homeless population. I can’t comment on the quality of the article, however, because I was unable to make it past this quote from Bob Dunn in the very first paragraph:
“Eight years have passed since the fatal beating of a homeless, schizophrenic Kelly Thomas by Fullerton police, but the tragedy remains a “deep wound” in the department’s psyche, says the city’s new police chief.”
Since our Police Chief is apparently unfamiliar with the meaning of the word “perspective”, allow me to provide some.
Kelly Thomas was a troubled individual, but he was a human being, and on July 5, 2011 he was essentially tortured to death in full view of hundreds of witnesses, all while apologizing and begging for his father. THAT is tragedy of Kelly Thomas, not the psychic boo boos the Police Department may have suffered.
The cops always ask us, when we dare to criticize their unlawful, corrupt,or incompetent behavior: who are you going to call when you need help?Sometimes the question evolves into a statement: I hope we’re gonna be there when you need us. Then it always comes across as a thinly veiled bit of extortion on the part of those sworn to uphold “public safety,” and are taking public money (lots of it) to do so. I’m reminded of the mob shakedown racketeer: jeez, it will be a real shame if something is happening to youse guy’s nice bisness.
But enough small talk. FFFF received correspondence today from a Fullerton resident who believes he recently made a big mistake calling the FPD instead of just relying on the kindness of strangers.
Here is the story in his very own words – as addressed to the Police Chief, the City Council and the District Attorney.
Date: Sunday, September 29, 2019
To: Fullerton Police Chief, City Council Members, Orange County District Attorneys Office
From: Toby R Oliver, Fullerton resident
A call by me to the Fullerton Police Department last night for help in finding a mother and two-year old son has exploded into at hellish nightmare after FPD Sergeants decided to arrest said mother for doing nothing more than getting lost.
My wife and mother of our three sons, Pranee Sribunruang, now sits in the Santa Ana Jail on $100,000 bail, charged with felony child endangerment because two Fullerton Police Sergeants decided it was their duty to put her there after she went for a walk, got lost and took several hours to make it back home.
FPD Sergeants Brandon Clyde and Emmanuel Pulido pitched a mission of help and concern when I met them out front of our home last night, pulling out all the stops to help find Pranee and our two-year-old son Leo. Then just as the Sheriff’s Department blood hound was about to be given her scent, Pranee stepped out of a vehicle that had pulled up, driven by a good semaritan who found her and Leo at a gas station and brought them home.
This is when it all changed.
Immediately, Pranee was someone who had done something wrong. Forcing her to sit on the curb, out came a thosand questions from the officers. Where did you go? What were you doing? Who were you with? “What do you mean you wanted to walk to Norwalk, you can’t walk to Norwalk,” Sergeant Pulido spewed. I tried to step in, and the officers pulled me away, saying this and that about needing to talk to her separately. One of the junior officers brought me aside and tried to calm me down, “We just want to help her, find out what’s going on,” he said. “Go inside and I’ll call you out in a minute.”
I waited a few minutes, went back outside and Pranee was gone. I asked where she was. “She is being arrested,” they said. “For what,” I replied, “which car is she in?” They wouldn’t tell me, and they wouldn’t tell me what she was being charged with. “You’ll find out Tuesday,” one of them said. Then I saw her head up against the back side window of one of the patrol cars. I went toward her, grabbed at the window and said “babe.” I didn’t know what to say. It had all gone horribly wrong, so quick. And I was responsible because I had called the FPD for their help.
Before I could do anything else, one of the officers jumped in the car and tore off down the street, leaving me there looking after her. I still didn’t really understand what was happening. This was supposed to be about finding Pranee and Leo. Now they were taking her away before I could even hug her.
Pranee is the kindest person I know. Her life is about showing kindess to others. Everyone she meets falls in love with her and her kind spirit. She had never been arrested before. She never even had a speeding ticket. No misdemeanors, no arguments with anyone (except me, her husband), and certainly never any child neglect or endangerment. The only way you knew she was mad at you was when she didn’t speak to you. Now she sits in the Santa Ana County Jail thanks to Sergeants Pulido and Clyde, and our family is torn apart.
The officers asked me earlier in the night, “has she ever threatened to harm herself or her son.” No I said emphatically. Her and I have had our issues, as most couples do. And she has experienced some depression recently, and we are working on this and trying to seek some mental health treatment. All this I told the officers, but sergeants Clyde and Pulido took this to mean something very different.
There was no harm to my son Leo. There was no endangerment, unless walking on the sidewalk at night is felony endangerment in today’s Southern California. Clyde and Pulido just didn’t like her explanation that she wanted to walk to Norwalk to see a friend and trade jewelry. I had explained to them that I had her only debit card because I had misplaced mine the day before, or, she told the officers, she would have taken Uber. Her phone had no service, so she couldn’t call us. It just didn’t add up for Clyde and Pulido so they decided “she met the criteria” and ripped apart our family, just at the moment we were reunited.
Now, I realize the worse thing I did that night was to call FPD, because in the end she made it home on her own – even though we were all very worried – and we would all be home together tonight enjoying each other. Instead FPD has torn our family apart, and we are lost. Never will I seek the aide of FPD again.
And one last thing, I don’t blame Clyde and Pulido as much as I blame the FPD. Where would they get this attitude, this aggressive nature? Where would they get the idea that somebody needed to go to jail in this situation. This is training that comes from the top, and that is your real problem Police Chief and City Councilmembers. Something very rotten is at the heart of your police department, and you need to do something about it.
Toby R Oliver
Now of course this is only Mr. Oliver’s story, but as stories go, it seems to have a degree of verisimilitude. The City will have its own version of the tale, no doubt, even if we are never allowed to see it.
Please note Mr. Oliver’s two conclusions: namely, that it would have been far better for him to have never called the Fullerton Police Department at all; and that there must be an ingrained culture of aggression and inhumanity in the department. As to the first conclusion, I leave that for others to determine. As to the second issue, those of us watching the FPD and the way it operates, have long ago detected a wide vein of callousness that accompanied the criminal and abusive behavior by its employees.
So what will come of all this except embarrassment for his family and big legal bills for Mr. Oliver? He won’t get any satisfaction from his communicants, that’s for sure, or even an apology. No, for the FPD admits of no error as its careening incompetence smashes across the lives of the people who have had the misfortune to be in their way.
Your Fullerton City Council majority — consisting of Fitzgerald, Chaffee, and Silva — made one of the worst decisions in recent memory last night.
Desperate to protect their pensions, and to keep pension contributions at a minimum, the Fullerton Police Officer’s Association (FPOA) approached the City about extending their contract. They voted yes.
CalPERS pension costs are skyrocketing as a result of poor investment returns, and far too optimistic rates of return. To “correct” this problem, CalPERS is demanding the City of Fullerton pay more in the years ahead. The table shows pension costs for FPOA members which consist of Police Officers, Police Corporals, Police Sergeants, and a small handful of non-sworn civilian employees, such as Police Dispatchers.
The table above uses the current fiscal year as a baseline (on the bottom row) to get a feel for the pain ahead. Beyond the current fiscal year, the projected pension costs for FPOA employees will cost Fullerton residents — at the very least — an additional $12.3 million through June 2022.
That’s $12.3 million of new money the City of Fullerton doesn’t presently have.
The timeline of the FPOA contract status is illustrated above with the agreed to “concessions” which are disingenuous at best. As noted, the contract extension runs to 2021 at the earliest, and possibly 2022 if FPOA decides to exercise that option.
You might be thinking to yourself, wait a minute, if their current contract expires June 30, 2019, why not negotiate a new contract at that time to get a better handle on the escalating pension costs? That’s precisely the problem.Instead of acting in good faith for Fullerton residents, council members Fitzgerald, Chaffee, and Silva rolled over to satisfy the public safety unions that paid big money to help them get elected.
The worst part about the FPOA contract, and the extension handed out last night, is the City cannot reopen negotiations to combat rising pension costs. The promises are now etched in stone through 2021 or 2022 regardless of what CalPERS does.
All very troubling, not just for basic principles, but because the California Supreme Court is expected to rule in 2018 on the so-called “California Rule” which prevents government agencies from reducing already promised pension benefits. The court’s decision will carry significant implications either way. If they overturn or modify the “California Rule,” Fullerton could have sought to renegotiate FPOA pension benefits upon the expiration of the contract in June 2019 and saved Fullerton residents millions of dollars. Conversely, if the “California Rule” is upheld, CalPERS will likely respond by further lowering the discount rate (assumed rate of return). A lower discount rate will cost the City of Fullerton tens of millions more in the coming years.
At last night’s meeting, the introduction of a new financial forecasting tool was presented earlier in the night, before the FPOA extension came up for a vote. The gentleman making the presentation noted that his model predicts a U.S. recession in the year 2020 — right in the middle of the FPOA extension. I was at the meeting and brought this up when it came time for the FPOA vote. I also pointed out that Fullerton’s brand new City Treasurer, who started on January 8th — just eight days prior — should be given a chance to review the FPOA proposal and offer his thoughts to the City Council. After all, the existing FPOA contract didn’t expire for another 18 months, so what’s the rush?
Council member Sebourn registered his opposition to the FPOA proposal, and then, without another council member saying a word, it passed with a 3-2 vote, Sebourn and Whitaker voting no.
Last night’s recklessness puts us a couple steps closer to municipal bankruptcy. When the Library is forced to cut hours or close completely, when Parks and Recreation has to shutter the community center, when Public Works has to stop paving streets and repairing broken water mains, you now know exactly which three council members to thank. It was failure on full display. As usual.
It’s been almost one year since former Fullerton City manager, Joe Felz, embarked on his infamous Wild Ride after an evening of drinking at election night parties in the Downtown Fullerton gin mills he worked so tirelessly to protect.
We all know how the drive home went wrong: Felz lost control of his vehicle on Glenwood Drive, drove over a tree, and tried to get away – in violation of the law. We also know that the Fullerton cops gave Joe a free pass and a ride home, many believe on the instructions of outgoing Cop-in-Charge, Danny “Gallahad” Hughes. That would be a crime, too – obstruction of justice, which is exactly what is asserted by District Attorney investigator, Abraham Santos.
Anyway, Felz has been charged with drunk driving by the DA, but the collusion to protect the City Manager has not been addressed and it never will be. That would set a very bad precedent, wouldn’t it?
On January 16, 2018 it looks like Wild Ride Felz is going to get his day in court as he has pleaded innocent to the charges. And since there is no evidence of his inebriation we all reckon the deal will be “dry reckless” driving, and case closed.
Rest assured, FFFF will be present to record and report the court proceedings.
Some things, like toenail fungus, never seem to go away. And one of them, apparently, is Jay Cicinelli. He is the disabled, one-eyed Fullerton cop who, on the hot July night in 2011, gently kicked Kelly Thomas in the head with his knee and compassionately smashed his face with a taser. At least that’s how Cicinelli’s lawyer wants you to remember it.
The City fired Cicinelli and his pals Manuel Ramos and Joe Wolfe for violating police department policy. Of course on the witness stand FPD’s genial Corporal Punishment T. Rubio exonerated the behavior Ramos, Wolfe and Cicinelli by contradicting his own department, and thus giving a brain-dead jury ammunition to acquit the three of the criminal charges brought by our useless DA, Tony Rackaukas. Of course Rackaukas had every opportunity to skewer the integrity of Rubio who sure seemed to be committing perjury, but the DA didn’t. The whole episode appeared to be nothing other than a grand plan to obfuscate the reality of what happened to Kelly Thomas.
Anyhow, the actions of Cicinelli and their relation to department policy seem to be key in an appalling effort by Cicinelli to seek reinstatement to the FPD, and to no doubt rake in five years worth of back pay and benefits. Well, this is California and the cop unions have us by the proverbial balls, so Cicinelli’s reinstatement is not only plausible, it is highly possible, proving what little control the people have over their “public safety” employees. Here are the relevant docs. Try to keep your last meal down.
One of our Friends pointed out this sad tale, as reported in The OC Weekly, a story of brutal gullibility, incompetence and indifference in which once again, the FPD is responsible for the prosecution of innocent people who end up spending a considerable amount of time in the County lock-up. Andrew Goodrich has informed the public, however insincerely, that the FPD really does try to arrest the right people. But when you read the case of Josh Eddleman and Jerrie Harvey, you really have wonder.
The other day FFFF ran a post on recent efforts by the Fullerton Police Department to share its Heroic doings with the public. Some were struck by the blatant and ongoing hypocrisy of the department’s alleged attitude toward DUI driving, given the fact that our former drunk-driving City Manager, Joe Felz, was given a free pass by the FPD after running off the road, plowing over a tree, and trying to escape the scene of the crime.
I’m struck by the constant effort of the department to spin PR yarns to make itself look good – despite all the evidence to the contrary. Get a load of the “while you were sleeping” shtick. It’s the old “we Heroes are keeping the streets of Fullerton safe while you get to sleep safe and sound – and how can you put a price tag on that?” routine. This relentless drum beat of the upbeat continues long after Chief Danny “Galahad” Hughes‘ departure, meaning that the strategy of fooling the public into mistaking a tsunami of PR for reform, is alive and well.
Anyway, I though I’d share a few other FPD activities that happened while we were sleeping, or maybe even when we were wide awake, sort of a public service announcement. Please observe the veritable FPD crime wave:
In the early morning hours of the very same day that six FPD cops harassed, attacked and left Kelly Thomas to die in the gutter, four of their bad apple brethren had a run-in only a few yards away with the Ortiz brothers – Luiz and Antonio – a couple of downtown Fullerton bar patrons.
Here are the names of the four cops: Bryan Bybee, Billy Phu, Emanuel Pulido and Matthew Martinez. Remember the names. According to the complaint Bybee began the July 5, 2011 altercation by attacking Antonio with a baton while his colleagues joined in the fun and also went to work on Luiz. The beat down ended with the usual ride to the Fullerton Jail, lack of medical attention to the beaten Antonio, refusal to pursue an internal investigation following Antonio’s formal complaint, and the eventual filing of criminal charges by our illustrious DA – who never seems to tire of prosecuting citizens based on fraudulent FPD reports.
Miraculously, Luiz was acquitted 11-1 by an OC jury in 2016, and the DA dropped the charges against Antonio – giving plenty of credence to the allegations made by the brothers in a civil suit against the taxpayers of Fullerton, a suit that was recently settled for the tidy sum of $280,000, only about $1.90 of which will come out of the pocket of Jan Flory, or Jennifer Fitzgerald or Pat “I Hired Them All” McKinley, or any of the other vocal cop apologists who bask in the warmth of Fullerton First membership.
Four more demerit badges for former Chief Danny “Galahad” Hughes’ boy scout sash, even as he rakes in a $20K per month pension.
Here are the relevant documents. Read ’em and weep.
Of all the money that former City Manager Wild Ride Joe Felz wasted during his shaky tenure, nothing was quite as egregious as the annual fifty grand Stumblejoe blew on Behind the Badge, a silly, pointless PR outlet that passed along empty feel-good tales involving Fullerton cops. No one knows if anyone even bothered reading this pabulum. The idea of us taxpayers actually forking over this dough in order to be administered unhealthy doses of saccharine PR back at us was bad enough. The fact that this policy decision was made, maintained and mismanaged by a bureaucratmade it worse.
Fortunately, last Tuesday, the City pulled the plug. City staff teed up the item as a cut – unless three councilmembers voted to save it. They didn’t. Here’s the video.
Of course cop supported candidates Bud Chaffee and Jesus Silva thought the whole idea was just peachy. Predictably, Jennifer Fitzgerald seemed to be going along. Bruce Whitaker and Greg Sebourn opposed wasting any more on this crap. Sebourn correctly pointed out that the cop union, having plenty of money to stick its snout in Fullerton politics, can easily afford to promote the good deeds of its membership.
Whatever changed Jennifer Fitzgerald’s mind to drop support for this ridiculous concept that has cost us $200,000 in the past four years remains a mystery, but she suddenly did a 180. Hopefully FFFF had something to do with the sudden shift to fiscal responsibility.
In the end the self-serving BS rhetoric of Chaffee and the feeble gibberish of Silva amounted to nothing and the council unanimously went along with the proposed package of cuts that included Behind the Badge.
Rest assured, Friends, FFFF will be following up with a Public Records Act request to get a copy of the termination notice.
A few years back we pried the lid off the FPD barrel, hoping to discover and toss out some of the bad apples. Unfortunately, our search brought forth a cornucopia of ethical and even criminal misconduct. These names might ring a bell: Rincon, Mejia, Major, Hampton, Ramos, Wolfe, Cicinelli, Mater, Baughman, Sellers, Tong, Nguyen, Craig, Blatney, Coffman, Kirk, Basham, Goodrich, Cross, Nowling, Wren, McKinley, Siliceo and Bair.
Exhausted by wading through this morass of misbehavior, we took a well-earned break in 2013. Unfortunately, the Culture of Corruption did not. Here’s an OC Weekly story about a Fullerton police officer Hugo Garcia, who was charged with felony fraud and embezzlement in 2014. Uh, oh, an “alien” body snatcher has once again grabbed one of “Patdown” Pat McPension’s recruits.
Officer Garcia recently pled guilty and ended up with 100 hours of community service and 18 months of probation for his crimes. Somewhere along the way he became “no longer employed” by the Fullerton Police Department, but we’re not entitled to know why. Nobody knows what other deeds this criminal may have pepetrated upon the public while he was wearing a badge and a gun.
I hope you didn’t miss the charming snippet from the Weekly article: “…the OCDA, which stresses Garcia was off-duty and not acting in his official capacity as a police officer at the time of the crime.” Somehow the DA found it necessary to exculpate Mr. Garcia’s on duty behavior, to reassure us that Garcia’s felonious nature only kicked in when removed his FPD uniform.