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CLERB board member claims she's being let go as retaliation

A member of the county’s Citizens' Law Enforcement Review Board claims she is being pushed out for her outspokenness. Some community groups held a press conference in front of the County Administration building today claiming CLERB is trying to silence the only Black woman on the board. KPBS’s Alexander Nguyen was there and brings us this report.
Updated: June 21, 2022 at 6:01 PM PDT
Terra Lawson-Remer's office responded to KPBS via email on Tuesday, saying, "The decision as to whether or not to renew Buki’s limited-term appointment to serve on the Citizens Law Enforcement Review Board is up to (the) County’s Chief Administrative Officer, not the Supervisor. Nomination of applicants is made by the CAO to the Board of Supervisors. Supervisor Lawson-Remer was proud to recommend Buki to serve on CLERB."

A member of the county’s Citizens' Law Enforcement Review Board (CLERB) claims she is being pushed out for her critique of the San Diego County Sheriff's Department's handling of in-custody deaths.

The Racial Justice Coalition of San Diego, the North County Equity and Justice Coalition and other community groups held a press conference in front of the County Administration Building on Monday, claiming CLERB is trying to silence the only Black woman on the board.

Buki Domingos was appointed to CLERB in October by Supervisor Terra Lawson-Remer to serve out the remainder of someone else's term. That term ends June 30. Domingos said she was not aware of that until after she was appointed.

She said she was assured by CLERB's executive director Paul Parker that it shouldn't be a problem for her to be reappointed to a full three-year term.

"I strongly believe that it was in retaliation and I was being silenced just because there were public issues that I was pushing based on the data that were released," she said.

The data Domingos referred to was the state auditor’s report on the in-custody deaths at San Diego County jails. The report faulted the sheriff’s department for not adequately assessing inmates’ physical and mental health, likely contributing to their deaths.

One of those inmates was Sabrina Weddle's brother, Saxon Rodriguez, who died July 1, 2021. Weddle said the sheriff's department was not forthcoming with details until Domingos and CLERB got involved. But she said there are still unanswered questions.

"(I want to know) if my brother ate breakfast that morning. What were the symptoms going on before?" Weddle said. "My brother was only in jail for four days, and anybody coming off fentanyl that second day — he would have been definitely showing signs that he needed medical attention.”

Sabrina Weddle.jpg
Matthew Bowler
Sabrina Weddle's brother Saxon Rodriguez died while in San Diego County jail, San Diego June, 20, 2022.

She wants to know how her brother got meth and fentanyl while in jail and why he did not get proper medical attention. Weddle said without Domingos on the board, questioning the medical examiner's report and the sheriff's department, there won't be anyone to hold the department accountable.

Domingos is a registered nurse and she said that gives her expertise in reading the medical examiner's reports to point out inadequacies.

"Many CLERB board members and staff members do not appreciate or understand that there are people who had negative experiences with the sheriff's department, and they do not trust law enforcement to be able to repair and build back this trust," she said. "CLERB has to be proactive and consistent with how it engages with these communities, especially racial minority communities."

Clovis Honoré.jpg
Matthew Bowler
Clovis Honoré, an activist with the Racial Justice Coalition spoke out against the San Diego County Citizens' Law Enforcement Review Board not appointing Buki Domingos to a full term on the board, San Diego, June 20, 2022.

But Parker denies that he or any member of CLERB's board had anything to do with Domingos not getting reappointed, saying the county Board of Supervisors appoints people to CLERB's board.
"Ms. Domingos has life experiences that no one else on the board has — absolutely. She is the only Black female. She is an immigrant, I believe, from Nigeria. She has raised four boys. She is a nurse. That's all true," Parker said. "It's up to District 3 to appoint someone that will continue ... pushing for what District 3 wants, which I know is social justice reform."

Lawson-Remer represents District 3. Her office was closed in observance of the Juneteenth holiday and was not available for comments.

Domingos is pushing back, saying she's the only board member being asked to leave after her term is over. She said CLERB's board chair Susan Youngflesh is still being allowed to serve long after her term expired in June 2021.

Parker said that's because Supervisor Joel Anderson, who represents county District 2, hasn't appointed anyone to replace her.

"District 2 has elected not to move forward and reappoint her. But you are permitted for the current rules and regulations to continue serving in that capacity until your replacement has been selected," Parker said. "Chair Youngflesh's replacement has yet to be selected."

He said the same rules apply to Domingos, if by June 30 no one has been appointed to replace her.

Yusef Miller.jpg
Matthew Bowler
Yusef Miller from the North County Equity and Justice Coalition spoke out against the San Diego County Citizens' Law Enforcement Review Board not appointing Buki Domingos to a full term on the board, San Diego, June 20, 2022.