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The “fox watching the henhouse”

 December 1, 2021 at 6:00 AM PST

Speaker 1: (00:03)

Good morning. I'm Annica Colbert. It's Wednesday, December 1st inside an investigation into police use of force more on that next, but first let's do the headlines. A San Diego case may be the first test of California's crown act, which seeks to prevent mistreatment and discrimination based upon natural black hairstyles. Jeffrey Thorton says Encore global and event production company asked him to cut his dreadlocks during an interview for an audio visual job at the Hilton San Diego bay front Thorton says he couldn't accept the job under those conditions.

Speaker 2: (00:46)

If I were willing to make that sacrifice, that the position would be waiting for me, which still is, as

Speaker 1: (00:52)

He says, he worked for Encore in Florida since 2016 and was never questioned about his hair before he's filing a legal claim against the company, a federal appeals court upheld California's ban on high capacity ammunition magazines of San Diego federal judge had previously overturned the ban and ruled it unconstitutional. The appeals court ruled seven to four saying that California's ban quote, reasonably supported California's effort to reduce devastating damage wrought by mass shootings. The leader of California's state auditor's office says she's retiring at the end of the year. Elaine Howell has led the nonpartisan watchdog agency for 21 years and she offers this guidance for whoever governor Gavin Newsome appoints to succeed. Her.

Speaker 3: (01:43)

The advice I have is you have to protect the independence and the integrity of this. If this office, otherwise the credibility is gone and the work that we do, uh, doesn't have the relevance that it has. No.

Speaker 1: (01:54)

Yeah. From KPBS, you're listening to San Diego news. Now stay with me for more of the local news. You need California. Lawmakers are debating a bill that would prevent a law enforcement agency from investigating its own officers when they shoot people. Right now, these investigations are conducted by the officer's own departments, KPBS, investigative reporter, clear trigger. Sir, found that in those investigations officers can get different treatment from the people they shoot and a warning. The following story contains graphic descriptions and sounds

Speaker 4: (02:37)

In the early morning hours of a Sunday in March, 2016, two men made choices that led to police investigations, but how the investigations were conducted and their outcomes couldn't have been more different. The first was Jose Blanco, an undocumented immigrant who had gotten into a fight outside of seven 11 in Vista. Then Bronco saw a group of men rushing toward him. He and his wife jumped in his car and tried to get away.

Speaker 5: (03:06)

Well, my intention was to rescue my wife and not to get beaten, but when the other psoriasis, I was a scary, even more.

Speaker 4: (03:15)

I didn't know it, but the men who rushed him were off-duty Sheriff's deputies, the deputies surrounded Blanco's car. He first threw it in reverse hitting one of the deputies then lurched forward. That's when deputy Jason Phillips ended up on the hood of the car.

Speaker 6: (03:32)

Um, and I was either straddling the hood or laying literally on the windshield because I could see his white t-shirt and see him driving. Um, and I, I knew I was going to either fall off the vehicle and be crushed, or he was going to accelerate at a high rate of speed onto excuse me, east Vista way. And that would be badly injured or killed. And, uh, at that point I discharged my revolver through the windshield, trying to stop him from driving off

Speaker 4: (04:00)

Though, Phillips was not working, not in uniform. He was armed with a concealed handgun and he'd spent the night drinking two to three shots of tequila and three to four beers. He later told investigators. He shot Blanco multiple times, but Bronco survived. Bunco told detectives. He had no idea. The men who rushed his car were police.

Speaker 5: (04:27)

I didn't know who they were because they didn't have a uniform. If I had known they were cops. I've seen so many stories of people being shot, you and killed. Do you think I want to die

Speaker 4: (04:37)

Later that morning, both Blanca and Phillips were questioned by detectives, but that's where the similarities of their experiences and Phillip's questioning was straight forward, even friendly. At times he had a lawyer with him and the detectives helped him arrive at answers.

Speaker 6: (04:55)

I had my drinking had stopped significantly earlier in the evening and I'm not sure how to word it mind. I think what he's getting ahead with it. Anytime during the evening, did you feel that you were intoxicated? No.

Speaker 4: (05:11)

Meanwhile Blanca was interviewed by Sheriff's detectives in the hospital without a lawyer. The detective challenged him over and over telling him he was lying

Speaker 7: (05:23)

[inaudible] because you, you're not going to tell me you don't remember. I know you're not a liar now is not the time to tell lies. How did you hear?

Speaker 5: (05:32)

I swear to you. I don't, I don't remember hitting anyone in reverse. No,

Speaker 7: (05:38)

[inaudible] I mean, you are not telling me what are you afraid of? Why are you hiding police officers? Have

Speaker 8: (05:44)

I have a presumption of innocence or a presumption of

Speaker 4: (05:49)

Fair play? And Rios is a defense attorney who often represents people subject to force by police. Yet

Speaker 8: (05:57)

Victims slash suspects. Don't have that presumption of innocence, which is ironic since it really is the defendant or the accused that actually does have a constitutional right to a presumption of innocence.

Speaker 4: (06:11)

Dave Myers is a retired Sheriff's commander. Who's undergone internal affairs interviews. He says, investigators often take a friendly approach toward their fellow officers.

Speaker 9: (06:22)

It is the Fox watching the henhouse. If the intention is a fair and impartial fact-finding mission, I mean the internal affairs process is, and I've talked about this for years are, are flawed and it's in it's flawed. And it's intended to benefit the law enforcement agencies.

Speaker 4: (06:45)

The Sheriff's department would not agree to an interview for this story. Phillips his lawyer, Richard Pinkard says officers who shoot suspects are properly scrutinized. They can face multiple investigations from their own departments, homicide division, then internal affairs. Then outside agencies, he wrote in an email to KPBS. The two separate in-depth investigations into Phillips. His actions were appropriate under the circumstances. This incident was thoroughly investigated by the Sheriff's department and then independently investigated by the district attorney's special operations division. He wrote the da concluded that deputy Phillips's use of lethal force was legally justified under prevailing law. Given the totality of the circumstances, which is why deputy Phillips was not charged in a KPBS review of more than 300 internal records from local police agencies, only one officer has ever been charged for shooting someone that happened last summer. When Sheriff's deputy Aaron Russell was charged with murder after he shot a mentally ill man who escaped from a police vehicle and was running away, the KPBS review also found just five cases that result in any punishment for the officer. This case with Phillips was one of them, but it wasn't for shooting Bonko. He was reassigned and suspended without pay for four days for violating department policy, the violation was for carrying a gun while he was drinking. Meanwhile, Blanco was ultimately charged with multiple counts of assault, including assault with a deadly weapon for hitting the deputies with his car. He pleaded guilty to assault and was then deported to Mexico.

Speaker 1: (08:36)

And that was KPBS investigative reporter Claire, try guesser to search the police records and see a map of where these incidents occurred. Go to records.

Speaker 10: (08:50)


Speaker 1: (08:55)

Almost every city in San Diego county is now divided into districts that elect local city council members rather than electing them in a city-wide vote, but not national city KPBS, race and equity reporter. Christina Kim reports that Filipino community members are planning to Sue for greater political representation.

Speaker 11: (09:16)

The California voting rights act says minority groups who believe their political power is being diluted in city-wide elections can Sue and that's what could be happening soon in national city, ADI to Castro is the attorney who filed the official violation.

Speaker 12: (09:32)

The national city has had at-large voting, which has resulted in dilute of voting for the Filipino and API APIs that reside in the city of national city.

Speaker 11: (09:44)

Asian-Americans are the second largest demographic group in national city. Second, only to Latinos, according to the U S census, but that's not reflected in national city politics as DeCastro

Speaker 12: (09:55)

Past two decades. Uh, there hasn't been any significant progress in getting Filipinos and API APIs to be represented on the city council.

Speaker 11: (10:07)

He believes the law is clear and the precedent has been set by other cities in the county.

Speaker 12: (10:12)

If you take a look at cities like Poway, Solana beach, Imperial beach, those are cities that are smaller and less racially polarized, but yet they adopted district voting. So if you just look at precedent, I think necessity has to become a district

Speaker 11: (10:28)

National city officials have until December 23rd to respond KPBS reached out to the mayor's office for comment and did not hear back. DDAs Yamani is a national city, resident and realtor who ran for city council in 2020 and lost. She thinks district voting is key to ensuring accountability.

Speaker 13: (10:46)

I believe now is the best time for districting. Most specially there are issues and concerns that constituents are wanting to be addressed, and they would like to see that person accountable to them, and that will service them properly or we'll address their concerns.

Speaker 11: (11:05)

Yamani says district voting would help enfranchise Filipino, American, senior citizens. Many of whom feel left out of the political process and are fearful of the rise in anti-Asian hate. This

Speaker 13: (11:17)

Part of the population are sometimes yes, they speak English, right? But they wanted to see somebody that they can relate to, to, to share their issues. Sometimes they get intimidated when they don't see that person representing them.

Speaker 1: (11:34)

And that was KPBS race and equity reporter, Christina Kim, the attorney representing Filipino community members said if the city doesn't extend or adopt a plan for district voting, he will move forward with the lawsuit. San Diego's vaccination mandate for city employees is approaching employees must be fully vaccinated or apply for an exemption by today's deadline. KPBS is kitty Alvarado spoke with an infectious disease expert and got community reaction to the mandate.

Speaker 14: (12:08)

Unvaccinated city employees are running out of time to comply with the COVID vaccine mandate. They have until December 1st to be fully vaccinated or apply for an exemption out more than 35%. The police department has the highest number of unvaccinated employees followed by maintenance workers that more than 26% and the fire department at more than 15,

Speaker 15: (12:35)

I just have trouble understanding it. Um, the science seems really clear.

Speaker 14: (12:40)

Eric Hanson who lives and works in San Diego was getting his booster shot at Lincoln high school. He says he doesn't understand why first responders, especially police officers have such high numbers of un-vaccinated employees.

Speaker 15: (12:53)

I deal with the public as much as they do. I deal with classrooms full of kids. And, um, so I, if I have to do it and I am doing it, I don't see why they shouldn't do it too.

Speaker 14: (13:03)

Lindsey Gabriel was also getting a booster. She says, first responders have earned the right to have the option. The first responders,

Speaker 16: (13:10)

Um, they're there for us. I feel like they have, they, they should be able to make the,

Speaker 17: (13:16)

And we need the workforce intact. We need the workforce healthy. We need these first responders, uh, fit and able to live long and healthy lives, uh, to take care of us. Um, and I think this is really an essential piece of that.

Speaker 14: (13:33)

Dr. Peter chin Hong, a professor and infectious disease specialist says unvaccinated people have a higher viral load for a longer period of time. And in fact, more people creating more strains that pose a risk to everyone.

Speaker 17: (13:47)

Most of the variants, if not all of them, pretty much horizon unvaccinated individuals. We need to break the chain of transmission. If we're going to stop the deltas, the alphas, the gamma is the Omer Crohn's of the future.

Speaker 14: (14:02)

The city says employees who refuse to get vaccinated will get a letter stating they are in danger of losing their jobs and have 30 days to comply if they fail to do so, the city will begin the termination process.

Speaker 1: (14:15)

And that was reporting from KPBS is kitty Alvarado Coming up oral arguments are set today on a case that could hollow out Roe versus Wade. And if so, California would likely become a destination for out of state patients seeking abortions. We'll have more on that next, just after the break. The U S Supreme court is set to hear oral arguments today on a case that could overturn Roe vs. Wade. That's the 1973 ruling that affirms a woman's constitutional right to receive an abortion. Now should Roby overturned. Abortion advocates are preparing for a surge in out of state patients traveling to California for the procedure KQBD Katie or looks at whether the state is prepared

Speaker 18: (15:30)

Case before the court considers whether a Mississippi state ban on abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy is constitutional. The courts ultimate decision could undercut Roe vs. Wade, which does not allow bans on abortions before a fetus is deemed viable. Usually around 24 weeks. Shannon, Olivia Larry Hovis is the director of NARAL pro-choice California. She says there will be national implications. If the conservative leaning court sides with Mississippi,

Speaker 19: (16:00)

We estimate that 26 states will outlaw abortion entirely or almost entirely. And if 26 states outlaw abortion, millions upon millions of women and pregnant people across this country will not have access to care

Speaker 18: (16:14)

Because of its liberal abortion laws. California would likely become a destination for people prevented from getting abortions in their home states. Olivia Gary Hovis says California is largely prepared, but has some challenges. For instance, she says the state does allow for a wider range of health professionals to provide abortion care. But in order to,

Speaker 19: (16:35)

To actually be able to make that practicable, they have to get adequate training and they have to have adequate clinical experience. They also have to work in a facility that allows them to provide that care. And that's not always the case

Speaker 18: (16:49)

To address issues like that. The state has set up the future of abortion council, which will identify barriers to care and recommend solutions. Jessica Pinckney is the executive director of access reproductive justice, a nonprofit that helps people access abortion services and is a council member.

Speaker 20: (17:08)

Fornia is really making strides to kind of shore up our abortion access here in the state and make sure that the folks in California and those would be coming to California can access the abortion care. They need

Speaker 18: (17:20)

A recent study found if Roe versus Wade is overturned. California could see a nearly 3000% increase in the number of women of reproductive age, who would travel to the state for an abortion and

Speaker 1: (17:33)

Was KQBD Katie or reporting for the California report. And that's it for the podcast today. Be sure to catch KPBS midday edition at noon on KPBS radio, or check out the mid day dishes podcast. You can also watch KPBS evening edition at five o'clock on KPBS television. And as always you can find more San Diego news I'm Annika Colbert. Thanks for listening and have a great day.

Investigators of police use-of-force cases often go easy on their own colleagues during interviews after a shooting incident, experts say. Those interviews differ significantly from ones conducted with suspects or victims of those shootings, according to records obtained by KPBS. Meanwhile, Filipino community members are considering legal action against National City, arguing that district elections for city council members –rather than city-wide elections– would give more voice to local constituents. Plus, California could likely become a destination for a large influx out-of-state patients seeking abortions if the 1973 landmark Roe vs Wade decision is overturned.