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A Hard Look At How We Police

 June 3, 2020 at 2:00 AM PDT

A San Diego grandmother was seriously injured by a projectile fired by police at last Saturday’s protest in La Mesa. And now, her family wants justice. Cellphone video that has gone viral shows 59-year-old Leslie Furcron lying on the ground, with blood streaming down her face. She’s right in the middle of a group of shouting demonstrators during Saturday evening protest against police brutality. Dante Pride is the family's attorney. "The very least that I'm demanding is that the police department tell us who the officer is who fired that shot, get that officer off the police force immediately, and charge that officer with a crime." Furcron may lose an eye as a result of her injuries. A GoFundMe page for her has so far raised more than 90 thousand dollars. *** Protests continued in San Diego and other parts of the county on Tuesday. KPBS reporter Matt Hoffman was following a large crowd as it marched through downtown. Monday's peaceful demonstration follows four consecutive days of protests in San Diego and across the United States over the in-custody death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Mayor Kevin Faulconer said yesterday that the vast majority of protesters are doing the The protests last night and throughout the day today have been largely peaceful. San Diegans have the right to peacefully assemble….people want change. The mayor said he directed the community police advisory and oversight boards to hold emergency meetings this week to discuss how the police department can update or change policies to better meet community needs. *** Meanwhile in Santee, a man and woman were in custody Tuesday morning suspected of pointing a gun at protesters there. According to the San Diego County Sheriff's Department, protesters were at a busy intersection Monday and told authorities a woman in a truck drove by and pointed a black gun at them. For a third night, the city of Santee imposed a citywide curfew. The curfew order is from 7 p.m. Tuesday until 6 a.m. today. La Mesa also extended its curfew last night as well. *** From KPBS, I’m Kinsee Morlan and you’re listening to San Diego News Matters, a podcast powered by our news reporters, producers and editors. It’s Wednesday, June 3. Stay with me for more of the local news you need. Yesterday, beaches across the region reopened for activities like sunbathing. Before Tuesday, people had to walk or run in the sand if they wanted to enjoy local beaches. We are still seeing new positive cases: County public health officials reported 120 newly confirmed COVID-19 cases and seven additional deaths Tuesday. But the percent of positive cases is low, which means numbers are still trending in the right direction. Citing those local numbers, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 to ask health officials for even more beach access. KPBS Health Reporter Tarryn Mento has the details. The measure seeks the governor's approval to permit gyms, pools, youth sports and a range of businesses. The supervisors also called on the county's public health officer to open beach parking lots and lift any remaining restrictions on activities. Supervisor Dianne Jacob says she voted in favor because earlier stages of reopening haven't resulted in a surge in cases. (:14) "San Diegans have demonstrated that they know what to do. Businesses have demonstrated they know what to do." But Jacob was concerned two major hospital systems were opposed to earlier reopening due to higher COVID cases in the South Bay. Supervisor Nathan Fletcher was the lone no vote. Earlier requests to the state for a faster reopening have gone unanswered. A county executive also said officials are monitoring for a jump in COVID cases following recent protests over racial injustice. *** So, it's the beginning of the month and rent is due. As CapRadio's Nicole Nixon reports, one state lawmaker wants to expand protections for commercial renters during the pandemic. The coronavirus and stay-at-home orders have steamrolled businesses. But Sen. Scott Wiener says some have been hit particularly hard. WIENER: We face a significant risk that we're going to lose a massive number of our small businesses and nonprofits, particularly our neighborhood-serving restaurants, bars and cafes. The San Francisco Democrat has a bill to let those businesses renegotiate their leases, which he says have become unworkable because of stay-at-home orders. But commercial property owners say the bill forces the burden on their shoulders. Rex Hime is president of the California Business Properties Association. HIME: It's a totally unbalanced approach to resolving the things that all of us are involved in facing with the COVID-19 situation. The bill has already made it through a Senate committee along a party-line vote. Wiener says he's working on amendments to get more buy-in from landlords. *** More than twelve-hundred homeless residents of Imperial County go unsheltered every night. Yet county officials are sitting on state money that could help. inewsource investigative reporter Jennifer Bowman explains. When Imperial County secured a one-point-seven-million dollar state grant in 2018 to help its homeless residents, it picked eight agencies to get the funding. The goal: Get shelter for the neediest of residents, and help others in financial distress keep their homes. Twenty months later, county officials have approved only three contracts. Ken Wuytens is with the United Way, one of the groups waiting for homeless prevention funding. WUYTENS: "We've been told for going on nine to 10 months, probably, that we'd be ready to go in 30 days." (00:06) Wuytens still doesn't know when the group will get its money. The chairman of the county Board of Supervisors acknowledged the problem and says efforts are underway to get the funds distributed. That story from inewsource, which is an independently funded, nonprofit partner of KPBS. *** Demonstrations condemning the killing of George Floyd and police violence continue in San Diego. Local law enforcement are caught up in the center of these protests. They are deployed to maintain order, all the while being at the heart of the issue that brought people out on the streets. So what’s that like? President of the San Diego police officer's association, Detective Jack Schaeffer, spoke to KPBS Midday Edition host Maureen Cavanaugh. I want to start with a change to police policy announced yesterday by mayor Faulkner and police chief in his light. They said that San Diego police will no longer use the carotid hole to control suspects. That's of course, a neck hold that can render a person unconscious what's the police officer's association. Stand on that. Well, I mean, I think that the carotid restraint, um, when used, effectively, um, is, is a great tool for the officers. Um, often, um, allowing a smaller officer to control the situation from a larger suspect, for instance. Um, but again, if it's applied correctly and I think that, um, over the past, I think they did a study blast 22 or 23 years, you know, we've used it. Um, several times, um, with no fatalities and, um, anytime that I've ever seen it used or used it myself, the individuals who it was used on, um, had no, no serious injuries, um, and probably deescalated the situation, the situation quite a bit. Um, that said definitely, um, the, the, uh, chief has to make tough decisions and run the department. Um, and. Um, our officers are going to be able to, um, adapt and overcome just like they've done with all the changes. I know that I feel confident that we'll continue to be able to do a good job, and hopefully we'll be able to find something, some tool that can take the place of the carotid restraint. Um, since we can't use that now, Well, let me talk about the demonstrations here in San Diego. As you must know, there has been criticism of the response by police to the protest, at least some criticism. Do you think specifically that deploying tear gas and rubber bullets to a largely peaceful crowd downtown may have been an overreaction? Well, I think, um, you know, there's a lot to look at with this. Um, it's unfortunate that some people, um, didn't listen to the, like an unlawful assembly and the, um, and the orders to, to leave, um, that came out because they, they were given plenty of time to, to move to another location. Um, when there's things going on, There has to be something done when, you know, when our officers get things thrown at them. I mean, we've had officers have, uh, bricks, rocks, bottles thrown at them that they're vulnerable because they're standing there on a post. Um, so we have to do something to back people off in, you know, for the most part. I mean, your, your, uh, chemical agents are just irritants that, uh, Are gonna make people feel uncomfortable. And a lot of times it's get people to back away from whatever they're trying to do. So there's a, there's a balance and there's always going to be some people that are critical of it. But there, I don't know that there is a technique that can be used that would make everybody happy. I think that by doing some of these things, we prevent a lot of people from being injured. In addition to the ban announced on the use of the carotid, a restraint mayor Faulkner has given his support to a proposed November ballot measure that would create an independent community led commission on police practices with investigative and subpoena powers. What is the police unions position on that? Well, we haven't been in, been in opposition of that. We've actually worked closely with, um, with many people to try to just, um, make sure that it's, it's, uh, it's done reasonably and that it can actually be effective. Are you still negotiating with the city to see how this commission on police practices rolls out? We've okayed it to go to the ballot? I mean, we're, we're not, we're not, um, in opposition at all. Um, so it's, it's going to the ballot that the citizens will make. Um, their decision on whether they want it to change or not. And then, um, and then we'll go forward from there. So I don't know what, what necessarily the, all the next steps would be. Um, but we're okay with it going to the ballot and let the let into voters make the decisions. That was the President of the San Diego police officer's association, Detective Jack Schaeffer talking to midday host Maureen Cavanaugh. You can hear that full interview and more by subscribing to the Midday Edition podcast on spotify, apple podcasts, or wherever you listen. That’s all for today. Thanks.

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer is directing community police advisory and oversight boards to hold emergency meetings this week to discuss how the police department can update or change policies to better meet community needs. Also on KPBS’ San Diego News Matters podcast: the family of a grandmother injured by a police projectile at Saturday’s protest in La Mesa want justice, protests across San Diego continue and more local news you need.