On Wednesday, Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe and Police Chief Tammany Brooks held an “emergency press conference” to discuss an in-custody death which occurred just after midnight.
Thorpe kicked off the press conference thanking the Antioch Police Department for their efforts patrolling the streets and keeping the community safe and specially mentioned their efforts at the Target Shooting earlier in the afternoon.
He then went into the in-custody death that occurred just after midnight on James Donlon near Lone Tree Way.
“I was informed by the chief of police that an individual they were seeking to detain passed away. Although the facts are still being gathered per our procedures, the chief of police requested that the Contra Costa County District Attorney office lead all criminal investigatory efforts regarding this matter. In addition, a separate independent investigation is underway to determine if any of our policies were violated during this encounter,” stated Thorpe. “As mayor, I want to express my deepest condolences to the family of the deceased and pray that they have some level of comfort during this loss and extreme pain. I recognize they will not be able to achieve any comfort and peace until they have the answers that they need as it relates to their loved one. I want the residents to know that they will be provided answers because of the thorough investigation by the District Attorneys Office. Furthermore, in the event concludes that their was any negligence, we will seek the fullest effort to assure there is accountability.”
Thorpe stated as someone who served in the Navy, he has always had a respect for law enforcement and believed officers entered the profession to serve.
“We also cannot ignore the fact that there are critical reforms that are needed in the profession as a whole nationwide. For that reason, I am going to expedite the police reform measure that I talked about earlier this week, I will be calling for a special meeting this Friday at 5:00 pm where we will go through all those reforms to start deciding whether the council will move forward with those efforts,” stated Thorpe.
Chief Tammany Brooks highlighted the incident in question noting that officers received a call of a man rambling incoherently.
“During the course of the 9-1-1 call, another man could be heard with the man arguing over the possession of a phone. At one point during the call, there were sounds of a physical struggle. Around the same time, our dispatch center received a call that a Lyft driver activated a mobile alert needing police assistance with a subject who attempted to steal his cell phone and who had fled from his vehicle,” stated Brooks.
He highlighted two officers were sent to Lone Tree Way and Ridgerock Drive with very limited information after the man called a second time and gave his location.
“When officers arrived, the man (33 y/o Hispanic) appeared paranoid, yelling that they were not really police officers despite the fact that they were in fully marked APD police cars and in full uniform. The officers attempted to employ crisis negotiations tactics while attempting to deescalate the situation,” explained Brooks. “After a short time, the man ran into oncoming traffic onto Lone Tree Way. He attempted to enter a car that was stopped at a red light by pulling on door handle and pulling on the window yelling for the driver to let him inside. After nearly being struck by several vehicles, officers believed the man was putting himself, the public and officers in imminent danger and moved in in an effort to detain him.”
Brooks continued stating the man ran onto James Donlon Blvd where officers caught up with him where he lost his footing and fell onto the ground.
“A struggle ensued as officers tried to gain control of the man and get him out of the roadway as vehicles continued to pass by them. According to the officers, the man exhibited extraordinary strength and they were unable to gain control of his arms. A third officer arrived on scene and deployed his taser to allow them to overcome the mans resistance. Almost immediately after being able to get the man in handcuffs, he appeared to loose consciousness and the officers recognized this as a medical emergency,” stated Brooks.
Officers immediately began CPR, deployed a defibrillator and administered two doses of NARCAN explained Brooks.
“Based on the knowledge of facts based on the investigation thus far, I will share with you that no knee or other limb was ever applied to the mans neck during this incident, no use of pepper spray or impact weapons, no hand or leg strikes were used or the carotid restraint hold was never attempted,” stated Brooks further highlighted medical personnel arrived and took over care.
The man was taken to a local hospital where he was pronounced deceased.
“On behalf of the Antioch Police Department, I would like to convey my deepest sympathies to the mans friends and family,” stated Brooks. “I can share with you that our officers are completely devastated about what occurred last night. For that reason, we are making counselors available to our officers in order to navigate through the emotions this tragedy has created. The involved officers have been placed on paid administrative leave at this time as is customary in these types of situations. I realize that as devastated that we may feel, it does not compare to the pain felt by the family of the deceased.”
Brooks said the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office is leading the investigation to ensure transparency and will have the full corporation of his staff. He further explained if officers were at fault, he would expect them to be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law.
There will also be an independent third-party investigation into this incident according to Brooks.
“Should there be any violation of Antioch Police Department policies, I can ensure the community I will hold these officers accountable for their actions,” stated Brooks. “Regardless of the outcome, these investigations will be available for public review once completed. It is important that our community understand and have the opportunity to review the facts and circumstances surrounding this incident and we are committed to open and transparent in this process.”
Brooks called today’s information preliminary and additional information may become available as the investigation continues and more information could be released in the future.
Brooks stated during the media portion of the press conference that he fully supports body cameras. He also confirmed he informed the Mayor of the incident after it happened.
Referring back to the December 23 in-custody death, Brooks confirmed that the Mayor was informed of the incident “later”, not that night, by someone in the police department—at that point, Thorpe objected saying he was not notified.
- UPDATED: Two Arrested After Armed Robbery and Shooting at Antioch Target
- Antioch Police Investigating Death on James Donlon Road
- Antioch Mayor Unveils Police Reform Proposals
Although Thorpe said he would call for a special meeting Friday, that announcement has not yet been announced formally.
Thorpes Police Reform Proposals
His proposals were as stated:
- Mental Health Crisis Response Team – this would be modeled after a program in Eugene, OR. Which included psychologist and de-escalation tactics. This would include mobile crisis teams.
- Police Training – establish a paradigm that is publicly reviewed and updated annually. This includes a program around four areas: procedural justice, relationship building, implicit bias training, crisis intervention, conflict resolution/mediation, appropriate engagement with youth, LGBT, and gender non-conforming individuals, English language learners, individuals from different religious affiliations, and individuals who are differently abled and de-escalation and limiting use of force whenever possible.
- Demilitarization the Antioch Police Department: asking for an immediate ban on purchasing any military equipment from the federal, state or private enteritis. No longer accept them.
- Increase Policing Accountability: Says police body cameras and dash cameras will be brought to the council in March. Discuss the policy involving body cameras. Will be asking to independently review on-duty police officer complaints by the public by either moving that body out of the police department and into an independent body in city hall or establishing a police officer accountability department to receive and investigate and resolve civilian complaints within 12-days.
- Establish Interim City Council Committee for Police Oversight – a committee of the entire council, interim, until they establish a police oversight commission. Council would review and approve police policy, field/review/audit all police complaints, Review resolutions for police disciplinary actions, review Use of Force policy to ensure community participation in the policy.
- Improving Police Hiring Practices: Lateral candidates currently under investigation for Use of Force or any Misconduct will be disqualified from the process. If you have a sustained Excessive Use of Force Complaint or Misconduct Complaint on your records, you will be disqualified from Antioch’s process. Consider Implicit Association Test into the hiring process.
- Establish New Chief of Police Hiring Process: Calls for an open and transparent process which includes community input.
- Establish Notification System to Inform Mayor, City Council City Manager, city Attorney of when they should be notified of police incidents – no longer wants to find out about incidents on social media.
Thorpe closed by saying more would be coming out in the future as they are wrapping up the community conversations with the public.