Police chief in California launches inquiry into alleged badge bending rite to indicate fatal shootings

The explosive allegations have been first reported by way of Open Vallejo, which spoke to John Whitney, a former Vallejo police captain. Whitney, in accordance to the file, mentioned he used to be fired from his place after calling consideration to unethical behavior, together with the badge bending.

Whitney, the file added, mentioned he discovered of the name of the game follow remaining yr and reported it up the chain of command. The news website reported that a minimum of 14 of the 51 present and previous Vallejo officials concerned in shootings since 2000 had their badges bent by way of a colleague in a while after a fatal capturing, bringing up resources acquainted with the follow.

At least one officer named in the Open Vallejo file denied participating in one of these follow. “My badge has never been bent,” he advised the paper. “That’s a lie.”

In a commentary launched Wednesday, Vallejo Police Chief Shawny Williams mentioned the brand new data had precipitated the inquiry and that it might assist him “to understand the culture of the department in a greater way and to take corrective action.”

“If there is credible evidence found, I will expand the inquiry into an official investigation,” Williams mentioned in the commentary.

Shortly after Open Vallejo revealed its tale, Lt. Michael Nichelini, the Vallejo police union president, referred to as the tale “beyond inflammatory” statement obtained by the Mercury News. He mentioned that he used to be now not acutely aware of the alleged badge-bending follow. “Frankly, it’s a ridiculous notion,” he mentioned.

Whitney, a 19-year veteran of the dep., discovered of the name of the game ritual in February 2019 following the capturing of an area rapper in the drive-thru of a quick meals eating place, in accordance to his attorney, Alison Berry Wilkinson.

“To take pride in that (shootings) is absolutely condemnable in my view,” Wilkinson advised CNN. “It’s highly unethical and it doesn’t fit the code of ethics for policing. And certainly, it was something he felt he needed to be ended.”

Citing confidentiality, Wilkinson mentioned she could not free up extra main points. But she mentioned Whitney raised his fear with then-Police Chief Andrew Bidou, who suggested him to cope with the problem at a command team of workers assembly.

“During that meeting, Captain Whitney wanted all supervisors to inspect their subordinates’ uniforms and collect badges,” Wilkinson mentioned.

She showed different main points of the Open Vallejo tale, together with that 10 suspicious badges have been ultimately put in a cardboard field and taken to the chief’s administrative center.

“When the chief saw how many there were that needed to be repaired, he was concerned it would raise suspicion with the city finance department, and so he then ordered the badges be returned to the officers with an instruction that the officers fix them,” Wilkinson mentioned her shopper advised her.

Bidou has now not replied to CNN requests for remark.

In August 2019, Whitney used to be fired from his task after an investigation into allegations he improperly treated data, in accordance to the Open Vallejo file. Wilkinson mentioned the reputable explanation why had to do with Whitney taking away private data from his department-issued telephone.

But in accordance to a declare filed by way of Wilkinson towards town, it used to be retaliation towards Whitney “for expressing his professional opinions on a variety of misconduct issues.”

While the declare, which seeks again pay and legal professional charges, does not in particular point out badge bending, Wilkinson says it is going to be detailed in a wrongful termination lawsuit Whitney plans to record.

Whitney seems to have best friend in Vallejo Mayor Bob Sampayan. In a advice letter connected to the declare, Sampayan writes: “Frankly, I believe that because John spoke out about a negative culture on the Vallejo Police Department, his reputation was soiled by those that did not want any ‘dirty laundry’ aired.”

Sampayan used to be now not to be had for remark Thursday, however the town supplied a commentary pronouncing Assistant City Manager Anne Cardwell had spoken with City Manager Greg Nyhoff, who advised her, “The Mayor had advised me last year about these disturbing allegations of this practice that may have occurred in prior years at the Police Department. I immediately consulted with former Police Chief Bidou about these claims, and Chief Bidou indicated to me that this claim of ‘badge bending’ had been previously investigated and the claim had not been substantiated. The City takes all claims or credible information regarding potential misconduct seriously. Chief Williams is currently following up on the past allegations taking all investigatory measures, and he will take the appropriate and necessary actions based on the information provided.”

Attorney normal requires branch assessment

The Vallejo Police Department is not any stranger to controversy.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra introduced remaining month that his administrative center would assessment the dep.’s insurance policies and practices amid a string of shootings by way of officials.

A 2019 investigation by NBC Bay Area discovered that in line with capita the Vallejo Police Department had the perfect choice of other folks shot by way of law enforcement officials in Northern California, and the 3rd perfect quantity in the state.

The Becerra assessment seems to had been precipitated in phase by way of the June 2 capturing dying of 22-year-old Sean Monterrosa in Vallejo. Police shot the Latino guy in a Walgreens parking space once they arrived to examine studies of looting following protests.

The officer who fired the fatal spherical mistook a hammer for a gun in Monterossa’s sweatshirt pocket, police mentioned in a press free up. What’s extra, investigators taking a look into the case, came upon that key proof — the bullet-riddled windshield of the police automotive the officer shot via — used to be destroyed.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has referred to as at the FBI to examine the killing.

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