No Charges in Shooting of Shoplifter?

March 31, 2021

A Black man, Zhadius Penn, was shot and killed by a security guard at the Ralph’s supermarket in downtown San Diego on the night of February 12th, 2021.  According to news reports, the circumstances were as follows:

Mr. Penn was confronted by the guard on suspicion of attempting to shoplift a bottle of alcohol.  Mr. Penn threw the bottle of alcohol at the guard, cutting the guard’s head, and then fled the store.  The guard used his gun to shoot at Penn, who by that time was outside the supermarket.  Mr. Penn was hit and pronounced dead at the hospital.

According to these same news reports, the San Diego County DA is not going to prosecute the security guard, because the guard was acting in self-defense.

We are left with the following questions:

  • How is killing a man who is running away “self-defense”?
  • Did the guard chase Mr. Penn before shooting him?  How would that be self-defense?
  • How safe is it to shoot through an open doorway, with limited visibility, into the darkness?  Had Mr. Penn not been struck, who else might have been killed?
  • Would Mr. Penn be alive today if he had been white?
  • Would charges have been filed against the security guard if Mr. Penn had been white?
  • Was the security guard an off-duty member of the law enforcement community?
  • What company employs the guard, and what are their policies and procedures?  Will he face any sanctions from the company?
  • If the security guard is a police officer, will he face any sanctions from the law enforcement agency which employs him?
  • Where is Ralph’s in all this?  Do they approve of what has been done?  Will they be pushing for change?

 

 

What we see is a Black man executed for suspicion of shoplifting.  Not, this time, by a sworn officer acting in the line of duty, but by an employee of a grocery store.  At what point will we see the District Attorney start protecting our lives by prosecuting the perpetrators of unnecessary gun violence?

Francine Maxwell, President
NAACP San Diego Branch

 

Founded in 1919 after a visit by renowned author, activist and NAACP co-founder, W.E.B. DuBois, the NAACP San Diego Branch is celebrating a century of standing sentry over the civil rights of the people of San Diego. If you need more information about the NAACP San Diego Branch, please visit sandiegonaacp.org/presskit

PO Box 152086
San Diego CA 92195

(619) 431-1633 Phone/Text
[email protected]
www.sandiegonaacp.org

Celebrating 102 years of civil rights advocacy in San Diego

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At 6pm on April 21st, you may join the discussion by clicking below:

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Union-Tribune Article on Police Bias

March 30, 2021

 

Lyndsay Winkley
Lauryn Schroeder
San Diego Union Tribune
600 B Street, Suite 1201, San Diego, CA 92101

 

Dear Ms Winkley and Ms Schroeder,

We are writing to thank you for the article in Sunday’s Union-Tribune regarding bias in policing in the San Diego Police Department and the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department(1).  You raise an important issue and make many good points.

We at the NAACP San Diego Branch recognize that policing is a difficult job.  We know it is made more difficult by the nearly complete refusal of our society to address the legitimate problems of the poor and the non-white, and to instead use policing to suppress their reactions to injustice.  

We understand that criticisms of policing, however carefully researched and phrased, naturally result in defensiveness and resistance on the part of many in the policing community.  We recognize that most in the policing community honestly want to improve the outcomes for all our residents, including residents of color.

And yet, study after study, yours included, shows that disparate outcomes remain.  Far more African-Americans are arrested than their share of the population.  Far more African-Americans wash out of our Police (and Fire) applications and training processes than their share of applicants.  We also know from recent studies and events that there are a significant number of avowed white supremacists  in our public safety organizations.

Unfortunately, decades of court decisions have eroded the remedies available to such disparities, leaving us in a situation where the only way to get a judicial remedy is for an officer to have conscious race hatred and be foolish enough to express it openly.  Amazingly, even this does continue to occur.

Looming over all this is the specter of violence.  Recruits fresh out of the academy are put on the street, armed with deadly weapons and nearly no possibility of judicial accountability for those they may injure or kill.  They have been taught that every situation is potentially lethal.  They have been taught that anything less than instant compliance on the part of civilians is a form of violent aggression.  It is hardly a wonder that terrified officers shoot terrified civilians, in what is a tragedy for both.  It is hardly a wonder that so many of these uncalled-for shootings involve Black and brown folks, given the biases that make them so much more likely to be stopped, and so much more likely to be considered dangerous when stopped.

It is long past time to study.  It is long past time to prove, again and again and again, that bias is an issue in policing and our society.  We cannot count on the courts to act, especially with the radical makeup of the current Supreme Court.  The problem of bias must be solved locally.

That is why we call on Mayor Todd Gloria and the San Diego City Council to act boldly.  That is why we call on Sheriff Gore and the San Diego County Board of Supervisors to act boldly.  That is why we call on San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan to  act boldly.  There is much that they can do to start fixing this problem.  We would be delighted to explain in detail what they can do, now, to make progress toward “justice for all.”  Our list would start with swift and thorough training in de-escalation, include ongoing wellness checks for all officers, and swift progress with the Mobile Crisis Response Teams; it would not end there.

We welcome engagement with the San Diego Police Department, as well as all the other law enforcement agencies in San Diego.

Criminal Justice Committee
NAACP San Diego Branch

Legal Redress Committee
NAACP San Diego Branch

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Black-Owned and Operated Coffee Shop Repeatedly Vandalized in Lemon Grove

March 22, 2021

 

City Manager Lydia Romero
Lemon Grove City Hall
3232 Main Street
Lemon Grove, CA 91945

 

Re: Black-Owned and Operated Coffee Shop Repeatedly Vandalized in Lemon Grove 

 

To City Manager Lydia Romero,

We, the NAACP San Diego Branch, need to know what steps have been taken in regards to upswing in vandalism and what has the city done to increase patrol or discuss surveillance equipment on the main street? 

On March 14, 2021, the exterior windows of The Hamlett Coffee Shop located at 7801 Broadway were smashed at 12:27am, Saturday morning and they are trying to find out who is responsible.

This is the second time within a 6-week period that The Hamlett Coffee Shop has been attacked. The first incident occurred on February 5th, when three windows were purposefully shattered, leaving the business exposed and vulnerable to further damage.

The Hamlett Coffee Shop was originally slated to open its doors to serve the Lemon Grove community on January 1st, 2021, but postponed its opening due to the reinstatement of the COVID-19 Stay-At-Home order. These recent acts of violence compounded with the impacts of COVID-19 have continued to push the business’ grand opening date and have created a great financial strain on the business and family. 

We also need the captain of the Sheriff’s substation to respond with the policy and procedures as to when vandalism of over two Black businesses, with one having a message left behind, gets classified as a hate crime? 

The NAACP San Diego Branch looks forward to hearing from you.  

 

Sincerely,

Prince Sefa-Boakye, Chair of Legal Redress Committee
NAACP San Diego Branch

Cc: Mayor Racquel Vasquez

 

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March 9th “High Risk” Traffic Stop

The San Diego Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People has yet to receive a formal complaint about the March 9th traffic stop on Park Avenue where allegations have been made that an officer pointed his gun at an 8-year-old youth.

We have, however, reviewed the bodycam video.  We share the concern of citizens and elected officials regarding this stop.  We have been in contact with the San Diego Police Department, and we will be inquiring about trauma resources that the youth may be able to access; we were pleased that a PERT clinician did arrive on-scene.

The SDPD video (youtube.com/watch?v=Y4_d4d63_vM) includes this frame:

Certainly in this photo the officer looks like his weapon is pointed at the youth, whose hands are in the air.  Here is a still from the video they say shows that “at no time” was the weapon pointed at the 8-year-old:

We do not think this video shows definitively that the weapon was not pointed at the youth.  We don’t think any parent would consider their child was safe with a weapon aimed as the one above was.

And then:

Community members have objected over and over again to the use of curbing.  In its response to a Citizen’s Advisory Board objection to the practice, the SDPD said this:

Department Procedure 4.01, related to curbing, was recently updated on September 16, 2019 to educate officers that community members find this tactic disrespectful and the technique is only appropriate where officer safety is threatened.

After careful review, do advise us on how the officer’s safety was threatened and by whom? Especially after he father was already restrained before the young child exited the vehicle with a gun pointed at him and was curbed.

The overwhelming passage of Measure B by the citizens of San Diego means the time for change is now.  We call on the City Council to call extra sessions or take whatever other steps necessary to get the new Commission for Police Practices up and running as soon as possible. We need to start repairing the trust between the residents of San Diego and the Police Department as soon as possible.

 

Sincerely,

Francine Maxwell, President

NAACP San Diego Branch

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Promising Steps in La Mesa

March 6, 2021

Last May, we wrote of the arrest of Amaurie Johnson by then La Mesa Police Officer Matt Dages.  While Mr Johnson was released without charges, Matt Dages was fired and is facing a criminal prosecution for his actions.  Now, Dages is suing the City of La Mesa for reinstatement, back pay, and damages.

Nothing in the intervening months has changed our opinions regarding the video evidence, which to our eyes show a level of aggression and domination that has no place in policing.

We applaud the residents of La Mesa for their increased involvement and activism.  We are warmed to see they are feeling included by the City and they appreciate the support they’ve gotten to help them learn their rights and become civically engaged. Their engagement has resulted in a new Community Police Oversight Board and a nationwide Police Chief search; things that have been out of reach for so many of our residents.

We are glad to see promising steps in the right direction for La Mesa, and believe that Dages’ lawsuit will be found entirely without merit.

Francine Maxwell, President
NAACP San Diego Branch

 

Founded in 1919 after a visit by renowned author, activist and NAACP co-founder, W.E.B. DuBois, the NAACP San Diego Branch is celebrating a century of standing sentry over the civil rights of the people of San Diego. If you need more information about the NAACP San Diego Branch, please visit sandiegonaacp.org/presskit

PO Box 152086
San Diego CA 92195

(619) 431-1633 Phone/Text
[email protected]
www.sandiegonaacp.org

Celebrating 102 years of civil rights advocacy in San Diego

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Response to Police Shooting on February 25th, 2021

February 26, 2021

To the San Diego Police Department,

The NAACP San Diego Branch requests to have body cam footage of the police shooting which took place on February 25, 2021, to resolve our questions, as to the shooting of an apparently homeless individual.  

As we continue to gather all the facts, we sincerely hope this incident is not another example of two significant problems in our San Diego Law Enforcement: attacks and mishandling towards mentally ill individuals, and a failure to de-escalate. As we continue to seek justice for these victims and educate our community about mental health during COVID-19, it’s important for our law enforcement to set iron-clad commitments to our community on de-escalation procedures involving mentally ill individuals.  

We understand that officers sometimes need to use force to protect their lives or those of bystanders.  We look forward to the prompt release of the officer’s body-worn camera video, so we can verify that the newly-minted de-escalation procedures were followed on-scene.

Further, we’d like to know if PERT was called and if they responded—and if not, why not?  We’d like to know if less-lethal methods were attempted—and if not, why not?  

In short, there is much left to know if we are to accept that the shooting of this human being truly was necessary.  

The NAACP’s principal objective is to ensure the political, educational, social and economic equality of minority citizens of the United States and eliminate race prejudice. We seek to remove all barriers of racial discrimination through democratic processes and we accomplish this mission by seeking enactments, commitments, and enforcement of federal, state and local laws securing civil rights. 

As such, the NAACP San Diego Branch requests to see body cam footage of the incident to better educate our community and provide advocacy where needed.

Thank you,

Prince Sefa-Boakye, Legal Redress Committee Chair
NAACP San Diego Branch

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Watch: March 10th Jury Townhall

At 6pm on March 10, we had a discussion regarding service on juries.

A “jury of your peers” cannot happen without a diverse jury pool. We had a lively discussion with Superior Court Judge Dwayne K. Moring, Deputy District Attorney Dwain Woodley and Deputy Public Defender Euketa Oliver on how to ensure justice for all!

Judge Dwayne Moring

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed Dwayne K. Moring to a judicial seat on the San Diego County Superior Court on July 21, 2008. 

Judge Moring currently hears criminal matters as the Supervising Judge at the San Diego South County Courthouse. He is the first African-American Supervising Judge for the South County Courthouse.  His previous assignment was in one of the old Central Courthouse Felony Settlement Departments where half of all the felony cases filed at the main courthouse were heard in his department.  He was also assigned to the Juvenile Delinquency Court for three years.

Judge Moring tried approximately 75 felony and misdemeanor jury trials prior to his appointment.  He has presided over approximately 50 jury trials as a judge. 

Prior to his appointment, Judge Moring was a Deputy District Attorney in the Sex Crimes and Stalking Division of the San Diego District Attorney’s Office.  Previously, Judge Moring was a Deputy Alternate Public Defender with the San Diego Alternate Public Defender’s Office, and a Deputy City Attorney in the San Diego City Attorney’s Office.

Judge Moring is a board member of the San Diego Judges Association, a Sustaining Member of the San Diego Lawyers Club, a lifetime member of both the Earl B. Gilliam Bar Association and Earl B. Gilliam Bar Foundation, and a Master with the J. Clifford Wallace American Inn of Court.  He currently sits on the Board of Directors of the: California Judges Association, Crawford High School Academy of Law, Pepperdine Caruso School of Law, and the University Club Atop Symphony Towers of San Diego.  He is also a member of the San Diego Chapter of the American Board of Trial Advocates.

Judge Moring is the recipient of several awards for his involvement in the legal community.  In October 2017 he was recognized by Pepperdine University as one of its “Top 40 Over 40 Alumni.”  He was honored with the “Flame Of Inspiration Award” by the Thomas Jefferson School Of Law Black Law Student Association in March 2008 acknowledging his mentorship of minority law students.  In 2007, Judge Moring received the “Outstanding Service By A Public Attorney Award” from the San Diego County Bar Association.  He also received the San Diego County Sexual Assault Response Team’s “Response With A Heart Award” in appreciation of his significant contribution to sexual assault prosecution in 2007.

Judge Moring received his juris doctor degree from Pepperdine School of Law in 1991.  He also attended Pepperdine University as an undergraduate where he received a Bachelor’s degree in journalism in 1984.  

 Judge Moring was born and raised in San Diego, California.

Dwain Woodley

Dwain Woodley was appointed to Chief Deputy District Attorney at the San Diego District Attorney’s office by District Attorney Summer Stephan in 2018.  Chief Woodley, a 31 year attorney and Navy Jag Corps veteran,  earned his B.A. from McDaniel College 1986 and earned his J.D. the University of Maryland Law School in 1989. 

As a Navy Jag Woodley gained experience as a defense attorney and later joined the Office of the Public Defender of San Diego County where he represented indigent clients.  In 2001 he joined the office of the District Attorney of San Diego County where he led  Superior Court Division, Juvenile and South Bay Divisions. 

Chief Deputy Woodley was raised in Baltimore Maryland in a family that instilled the importance of public service.  He recognizes that the community must have trust in the fairness of the judicial system for it to work effectively and that having prosecutors from diverse backgrounds provides an extra level of confidence that the system is fair to its citizens.  Chief Woodley also understands that community safety is more than incarceration.  The judicial system as a whole should have a greater purpose – to prevent crime and to create a peaceful, law-abiding society. 

 

Euketa Oliver

Euketa Oliver is a Deputy Public Defender with the San Diego County Office of the Primary Public Defender.  For over 15 years, her practice has focused on representing indigent individuals in their criminal and appellate matters. For the past 3 years, Euketa has worked in the Writs and Appeals Unit, where she is responsible for providing legal advice to approximately 200 attorneys, office-wide trainings on new laws and legislation, as well as conducting extensive legal research and writing. As a Deputy Public Defender, Euketa has handled over 70 jury trials. She has argued appellate matters before the Fourth District Court of Appeal, Division One and the San Diego Superior Court Appellate Division. Prior to her legal career, Euketa obtained a Master of Arts degree in Counseling Psychology. Euketa is Immediate Past President of the Earl B. Gilliam Bar Foundation; co-chair of Lawyers Club of San Diego, Diverse Women’s Committee; serves on the San Diego Superior Court’s Anti-Bias Legal Equality (ABLE) committee, and member of the San Diego County Bar Association’s Bench-Bar Committee. 

Rochester: Child Trauma at the Hands of “Peace Officers”

Black Children as Young as 9 Years Old Experience Racial Trauma, Violence and Abuse from Those Sworn in to Protect and Serve

 

On Friday, January 29th at 3:20 pm in Rochester, New York, a 9-year-old Black girl was pepper-sprayed by authorities who were called to her home. The Rochester Police Department (RPD) released the videos from officers’ body cams on Sunday, January 31st. As outcries from the public continue to pour in, Governor Andrew Cuomo stated: “This isn’t how the police should treat anyone, let alone a 9-year-old girl.”

By now, many are aware of what took place: A call was made to the RPD regarding what was described as “family trouble.” Seriously, RPD was informed that the child was suicidal and threatened to kill herself and her mother. Initially, in the first video, you can see the officer attempting to work with the child; however, when he grabs her, she becomes agitated (rightfully so). The situation escalates further when her mother arrives and begins speaking with her daughter. I could not bear to watch it any further and stopped at 3:15 into the 10:53 duration. When squad cars arrive at the scene where the officer, mother, and daughter are standing out in the cold, the situation worsens. You can see the second video here.

Many of you may ask, “Why is this the top story in Education?”  Well, it’s simple. Schools must be aware of the environmental stressors that a significant amount of our children experience at home on top of COVID. Domestic violence and child abuse should be strongly considered during this pandemic. Children should not be expected to “do their work and concentrate online” when they may be experiencing trauma at home. Yes, teachers are here to teach;  however, counselors, social workers, and other mental health crisis professionals are needed now more than ever to work with children remotely and to prepare them for the enormous amount of work that lies ahead when or if we are to return to in-person learning.

Schools, just as police departments, must account for this intervention. Communities are advocating for reform and schools must hire mental health professionals to address crisis calls —versus sending out school resource or police officers. THE POLICE are not counselors, nor are they mental health professionals. When family crisis calls occur, officers should not be sent out unless they are trained and certified in crisis intervention. We need our elected officials to understand that it’s unfathomable for a young child to be handcuffed as she lay face down in the snow, crying out for her father, then pleading for a female officer (to no avail). She was then taunted and told by a police officer that she is acting like a child. Her response? “I am a child.” This young Black girl was treated as an adult criminal and the pervasive patterns of injustice displayed by law enforcement correlate with research that shows the adultification of Black children who are not viewed as youths. Monique Morris describes this horrific act as PUSHOUT, the Criminalization of Black Girls.

Schools and school policing across the nation have similar patterns of “disciplining” and traumatizing our children. Specifically, Black children. When teachers call in school or campus police instead of counselors, social workers, and mental health providers to control rather than to intervene when children are experiencing stress in school, Black children continue to experience higher rates of trauma and harm at school than their non-Black peers. Here in San Diego, this also applies to our Native American (Indigenous) boys. When you look at the data, you see the patterns of disproportionality.

We are aware that her parents called the authorities but let’s be clear: Coronavirus continues to impact our entire society and, while children may not be physically more vulnerable to COVID-19 (although recent cases are proving otherwise), the toll on their mental health and well-being is beyond concerning. Except for Zoom/Google Meet, many children are cut off from social interaction with their peers. Unable to play with friends, children are experiencing depression and loneliness. Suicide is on the rise and children are dealing with an unprecedented mental health crisis. Now top this off with the realities of being Black in America as is the case with our 9-year-0ld in Rochester, we can no longer go back to the way things were in the past. We must address anti-Blackness in schools and take into account the Mundane Extreme Environmental Stress and African American Families: A Case for Recognizing Different Realities that our children experience both at home and school. Our children are not criminals; they are children. Let’s end the mistreatment of Black children by understanding their pain and treating them like the humans they are. It’s time for racial healing and culturally competent trauma-informed practices.

On Monday February 22nd from 5 pm to 7 pm and Saturday, February 27th from 10 am to 12 pm, join us for our 2-Part Education Symposium on Improving the Outcomes for African American Children in San Diego.

 

Click here for more information and to register:

Please note: We will include a section on Mental Health as it relates to Education and trauma informed teaching/counseling in our upcoming newsletters. For more details about Rochester (home to Fredrick Douglass for 25 years), you can refer to the Washington Post.

In the meantime:

 

Ashley

@ACSawyerJustice

·Feb 7

Replying to @ACSawyerJustice

 

If you want to do something about this:

  1. Sign the petition to have them [officers involved] fired: share.colorofchange.org/176/214478?akid
  2. Email your council members/elected officials – let them know you want p*lice budgets cut & money invested into education, non-coercive mental health support, housing

Watch: PERT Townhall with Director Marvin

On January 28th, we had a very informative discussion with Director Marvin and Wes Albers from PERT.

2021 01 28 PERT (Psychiatric Emergency Response Team) Townhall

Mark Marvin, Ph.D. (Vice President of Community Research Foundation, PERT Division – Director) and Wes Albers (PERT Community & Law Enforcement Liaison) gave…

In 1996, PERT (Psychiatric Emergency Response Team) program was established in San Diego county. In fiscal year 2019-2020:

  • PERT Clinicians (Law Enforcement and EMS combined) conducted 35,701 contacts in the community.
  • PERT provided 12,340 Crisis Interventions (of which 5,750 or 47% were diverted from a 5150 hospital transport for other community resources) and 23,361 Community Service interventions.
  • PERT Clinicians provided 9,413 crisis intervention services to persons identifying as being homeless.
  • PERT attempted crisis resolution contact, but was unable to do so (e.g., person could not be located or declined to interact) an additional 7,695 occasions (thus, a total of 20,035 Crisis Interventions were attempted).

Mark Marvin, Ph.D. (Vice President of Community Research Foundation, PERT Division – Director) and Wes Albers (PERT Community & Law Enforcement Liaison) will address an overview of PERT including its history, the role of the PERT unit, and training provided to first responders.

Community Research Foundation, Inc. (2020). What is PERT? http://www.comresearch.org/pert.php