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tv   NBC Bay Area We Investigate  NBC  August 8, 2020 8:30pm-9:00pm PDT

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justifiable by the san francisco district attorne background investigator that sustained allegations of misconduct. at wednesday's san francisco police commission meeting, commissioner john hamasaki addressed the overall issue of problem officers moving between departments. john hamasaki: anytime anybody gets in real trouble, candice nguyen:d: "i can't breathe"he. in discipline, they resign and they leave. were some of george floyd's last words. george: i can't breathe, officer. if somebody resigns, there is no finding, candice: and he said them over and over for approximately so there's no transparency. 8 minutes until he died at the hands of minneapolis police officers. nobody knows about the bad conduct that took place. floyd's final moments are sparking national conversations jaxon: we reached out to the officer's attorney, about ethnicity. but did not hear back. the issue of officers being able to jump from one department to male: it's time that we reclaim the righteous another to escape discipline has been highlighted by in this country. candice: equality, san francisco's new district attorney, chesa boudin. crowd: black lives matter. candice: and police use of force in america. he says he's looking for ways to close the loophole and keep [people shouting] the officers with troubled histories from being hired candice: because he is far from the only one to have in the first place. died in that way. candice: after the break, we return to palo alto, nbc bay area has been covering this movement, where there are renewed calls for reform following two federal
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and tonight, we're returning to some of our investigative unit's civil rights lawsuits brought against the police department recent reporting on law enforcement and their involving the same officer. use of force. we look at the restraint technique that took the life of george floyd and find out which departments may be using it here where you can find games, news and highlights. all in one place, right on your tv. in the bay area. jaxon van derbeken: and follow the career path of one the xfinity sports zone. officer who leaves one department for another just use your voice to search every stat, standing and score. before facing discipline in the shooting. stephen stock: we go to palo alto, follow the teams you love. where officers face multiple lawsuits and allegations of and, even get notifications with breaking news alerts and more. misconduct regarding their use of force. so you'll never miss an update. bigad shaban: and we examine the racial diversity of our law with the xfinity sports zone enforcement agencies. everybody wins. now that's simple, easy, awesome. do officers actually reflect the communities they were click, call or visit a store for details. sworn to protect? candice: this is an nbc bay area investigative special, "the use of force." hi everyone, i'm candice nguyen, an investigative reporter with the unit. many of you have probably seen it, the cellphone video taken on may 25 showing minneapolis police officer derek shavin pressing his knee to the back of george floyd's neck for more than 8 minutes before he died.
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several videos have since surfaced showing other officers using a similar knee to neck restraint. one of those videos shows an incident right here in the bay area. the video of derek shavin using his knee to restrain george floyd before his death looks similar to other videos now coming to light. male: stop resisting. candice: one of them, an incident in january involving san francisco police. you see an sfpd officer with her knee appearing to be on a man's neck while she talks to him. female: we ordered him to leave, but he didn't want to. candice: after the cellphone video circulated over the weekend, san francisco police released the body cam footage from five different angles showing more of the incident. we spoke to lieutenant mike nevin with the department's field tactic force options unit. does san francisco police policy allow for officers to use their knees on someone's neck to restrain them? mike nevin: no. what i saw in the video from minneapolis, minnesota was horrific.
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candice: san francisco police chief william scott ordered an administrative review of the january incident and invited the city's department of police accountability to independently investigate the arrest. male: are you injured? candice: our investigative unit reached out to more than a dozen other law enforcement agencies throughout the bay area. these police and sheriffs departments told us they do not allow their officers to place their knees on necks to restrain someone. san jose police responded to our questions about knee-neck restraints, saying, "our policies cannot cover every situation." over the course of our reporting, we learned there are a few local agencies that do allow a restraint technique called the carotid hold. stephen: almost one year after we first reported on an that's when pressure is placed on a major artery in the neck. incident involving palo alto police officers using force to the carotid hold can result in serious injury or death to remove a man from his home, the department finds itself criteria for what's considered a use of force incidence. once again on the defensive. a new civil rights lawsuit has been filed in federal court the third, as we'll see next, is when officers fire their weapon. involving one officer who we found has already been jaxon: when a police department determines a use the focus of other investigations. of force is unnecessary, that can trigger a lengthy
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this video is at the center of the latest city rights lawsuit disciplinary process. some officers retire, but others, just filed against palo alto's police department. critics say, simply move on to other departments on the left is store surveillance video before the process is over. from happy donuts. they call that a revolving door, and we found records of just how on the right, newly released police body worn camera footage. that happened here in san francisco. julio arevalo can be seen going to the store late at night to this video doesn't show the actual police shooting of luis get his son a donut in july 2019 when he's confronted by gongora pat, but you see officers approach him. palo alto police officer thomas destefano jr. and then you hear it. [gun firing] thomas destefano jr.: i'm out with a probationer, police say gongora pat, who was living in a tent nearby, he's walking away from me. julio arevalo: i should've just stayed home. threatened them with this knife. stephen: arevalo tells us he doesn't remember anything from newly released documents of the three-year long internal that night, but the video shows arevalo attempting to walk away investigation confirmed the department determined officer from agent destefano. michael maloney unnecessary escalated the confrontation by julio: am i being detained? thomas: yeah, you are. stephen: as the officer tells him he's being detained firing four bean bag rounds at gongora pat. because he's on probation. the video also shows destefano pushing arevalo against a fence. [people shouting] as arevalo holds on to that fence, you can then hear on the tape when maloney and destefano slams him to the ground in what the officer's a sergeant opened fire. report later calls a left arm bar take down. both said gongora pat came at them with a knife. the video shows arevalo going limp as his head while a review backed the officers for the actual shooting, the city's department of police accountability wanted
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hits the concrete. he was taken to the emergency room, maloney suspended for 45 days, and the internal affairs where doctors diagnosed him with a fractured orbital bone. division sought a 10-day suspension. julio: in the video, there's just the bag of donuts flying but just one day before that happened in august of last year, when he just grabs me. stephen: in his report, agent destefano said he thought he maloney resigned and went back to the antioch police force, saw a drug exchange, although the surveillance video doesn't where he had been honored as an officer of the year. appear to show any drug deal at all, and no drugs were ever found. this is him with the antioch police chief before police forwarded the case to the da's office for review he rejoined the department. for possible charges of resisting arrest, adante pointer: and you have essentially a revolving door of abusiveness that just gets transferred from battery on a peace officer, and being under the influence. but nearly a year later, arevalo hasn't been one community to the other. charged with anything. jaxon: civil rights attorney adante pointer represented the thomas: come on out or we're going to kick the door in. gongora family, who sued for wrongful death and ultimately male: how, do you have a warrant? thomas: we don't need one. come on out. settled with san francisco for $140,000. stephen: that's also agent destefano, he said the family is still angry. yelling in this 2018 video captured on another resident's adante: and not only did he manage to escape punishment, home security camera. but he also--he also managed to get another opportunity the video shows police officers pull gustavo alvarez out of his to go to yet another city, another community, home over suspicions that he'd been driving with a suspended and continue his career as a police officer with these--with license, all charges that were later dropped. [speaking foreign language] this discipline sight unseen until today. destefano: shut up.
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jaxon: antioch police sent us a statement late today, stephen: the video also shows veteran palo alto police saying they didn't know maloney was facing suspension when they sergeant wayne benitez, the supervisor on the scene, slamming alvarez's head into the car's windshield. hired him because, at the time, the shooting had been ruled wayne benitez: you think you're a tough guy, huh? stephen: and now, the fbi is investigating palo alto pd as well. while federal and city officials will not comment, documents from last fall show that federal civil rights investigators requested the entire alvarez case file. robert johnson: i will hold this team accountable when necessary, and i want the community to continue to hold us accountable. stephen: appearing before palo alto city council on february 25 just before the covid outbreak, chief robert johnson promised transparency, while some angry residents expressed their frustration with the police department. female: this is unacceptable. we cannot get better unless we get out of denial. stephen: but chief johnson continues to refuse to answer any questions from nbc bay area about either of these cases. and it took more than ten months for his department to release
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destefano's body worn camera footage. the department's use of force report from arevalo's july case was not completed for more than five months after we started asking questions. male: so, you got into a fight here earlier? male: yeah. stephen: in the use of force report, arevalo told investigators he had been in a fight earlier before the incident with agent destefano. the report, dated december 11, 2019 determined the officer's force, quote, "appeared reasonable and within policy." but it also found discrepancies between destefano's report and the video that supervisors say warranted further investigation. robert: i want the community to also know that i'm not naive to the fact that we have been subject to some very serious allegations over the past year. i want to assure you that i take these allegations extremely seriously and misconduct will not be tolerated. stephen: so far, despite numerous requests for comment and for records, palo alto's police department has yet to release the results of any further investigation into the
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apparent discrepancies found in officer destefano's report. candice: coming up, we look into how well police departments right here in the bay area reflect the racial diversity of the communities they serve and found notable discrepancies. and finally, we'll show you how researches are trying to track and analyze use of force incidents around the country, something they say will pave the way for reform.
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bigad: many advocating for law enforcement reform believe hiring a more diverse and representative police force could actually reduce officer misconduct. we look into that research and find out which police departments actually look like the communities they're supposed to serve. rob davis: my name is rob davis, and i'm a former chief of police in san jose, california. bigad: the former top cop spent 30 years as an officer in san jose, but for the past decade has worked as a consultant with the security firm hillard heintze, where he's helped reform law enforcement agencies across the country, including those struggling to diversify their ranks. rob: your police department has to be reflective of that community. bigad: for those who might think if you have an officer who is well trained, what difference does their skin color or gender make? rob: well, that's a knee jerk reaction on the part of a lot of people, but i think we all have certain types of biases. so, i think that having those people on your department that represents these different community groups helps them understand, when they're in the community interacting with the community, some of the sensitivities
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of the different cultures. bigad: our investigative unit took a look at diversity rates inside some of the largest police departments in the bay area. in san jose, african-americans make up about 3% of the population and about 4% of the police force, according to the most recent data available on the department's website. hispanics make up 32% of the population, but only 23% of officers. bill scott: we recruit a diverse pool of candidates, and we will continue to do that. bigad: san francisco police chief bill scott says his force is fairly representative of the city's population, but the number of african-americans living in san francisco has decreased dramatically over the past few decades. black people only make up about 6% of the population and about 9% of the police force. and while asians are about 36% of the population, they only make up about 23% of officers. white people account for 40% of the city and 48% of police officers. bill: so, i'm satisfied generally with the diversity of department.
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we're a very diverse department. when you have a diverse collective of perspectives, you usually have a better product in terms of policing and better outcome. bigad: in oakland, about 24% of the population is black, but only 16% of officers are. could a more diverse police department actually lower the prevalence of abuse within a police agency? rob: there's just a natural, organic way in which people become a little bit more open-minded, a little bit more progressive thinking, a little bit more compassionate and empathetic because they see in these individuals their own friends, their own colleagues, their own peers. bigad: one study in the american society for public administration looked at hiring trends at police departments in the uk and found more diversity often led to less police misconduct and fewer complaints about officers from minorities. in the bay area, gender remains the largest diversity gap among officers, with men comprising as much as 90% of some departments. some calling for reform have shifted their demands to the
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defunding or even disbanding of police departments. now locally, some law enforcement agencies are facing the very real possibility of major budget cuts so that money can be reallocated to other agencies who are equipped to respond to a crisis without a gun. stephen: the us justice department estimates as many as 54 million americans had some sort of contact with a police officer last year. that's everything from a traffic stop, to an arrest, to filling out a police department, to yes, police shootings. but unless a suspect is killed by an officer, there is right now no central clearinghouse to track police use of force incidents nationwide. and that, experts say, needs to be changed. male: sir, calm down. [speaking foreign language] stephen: this video shows officers using force to control a person deemed a threat to those around him. both police officials and an independent expert all agreed
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this was appropriate given the situation. experts also say police can learn from these incidents by precisely tracking them. matthew hickman: it's one of the most critical pieces of information we can collect about the police in a-- stephen: dr. matthew hickman chairs the department of criminal justice at seattle university. matthew: we really do need systemic data collection to help establish the reality of police use of force. stephen: five years ago, dr. hickman teamed with a private company called police strategies, also based in seattle, to begin tracking data showing how, matthew: with these data, we can start to understand how use of force incidents evolve, and hopefully lead to better policies and training so that we can try to minimize injury. bob scales: so, you can't have an evidence-based policy or evidence-based training if you have no data to back it up. stephen: bob scales is a former prosecutor and assistant director for seattle's public safety department. he helped found police strategies.
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bob: without the data to back it up and see a before and after of the training, we don't know if the training has had any impact on how officers behave and how they use force. stephen: for example, separate research conducted by the use of force project shows that police departments that ban chokeholds can significantly reduce the number of incidents that end in death. eddie garcia: we banned the chokehold. stephen: san jose police chief eddie garcia says his department began giving seattle university and police strategies their use of force data five years ago. san jose is one of only 88 agencies nationwide participating, along with daly city, capitola, and just recently vallejo pd. eddie: to see a transparent view of this is what your officers are doing, this is when they had to use force, why they had to use force, and who they're using force on. stephen: by using this data and analysis, chief garcia has actually changed policy. he now asks his officers to use tasers more frequently to subdue unruly subjects than batons or nightsticks.
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tasers remain controversial. critics say officers tend to deploy them too quickly, sometimes with deadly results. but the data in san jose shows actual injuries are down. bob: so, we were seeing fewer fractures and serious bodily injuries because they were using the taser rather than a baton. stephen: the data also shows san jose pd saw use of force incidents drop 13.4% from 2015 to 2019, the time the tracking has been taking place. and some racial disparities are disappearing. five years ago, when san jose police arrested a hispanic man, there was an 11% greater chance they would use force on him than when they arrested a white man. today, that hispanic person has a 2% lower chance than a white person of seeing force used against him. eddie: we have a lot more work to do, but i think the expectation is that we are moving that needle in that, you know, that this tool absolutely helps us do that. stephen: the use of force project agrees with those numbers, but still gives san jose an f grade for its deadly
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use of force data, noting that in 2018, hispanics were 3.4 times more likely to have deadly force used against them than white people. is that the biggest problem right now is people just don't know and there's not enough data analytics to say what works, what's effective? bob: i mean, you shouldn't implement any reforms if you're--if you're unable to measure the impacts. it may be good training, it may be bad training, or it may be a waste of money. we don't know without the data. stephen: bob scales says there will only be real police reform on this issue when the 18,000 different law enforcement agencies around the country are required to turn over their data every year so that their police use of force incidents can be tracked accurately nationwide. grab a box of 15 or try them loaded.
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it's also reminded so many people of our country's long history with social injustice and inequity. it's also sparked conversation between legislators, law enforcement, and the communities they're sworn to protect about how best to move forward. this is a pivotal moment happening in the midst of an ongoing pandemic. thank you for joining us. for the investigative unit, i'm candice nguyen. we'll see you again soon here on nbc bay area, where we investigate. ♪
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where you can find games, news and highlights. all in one place, right on your tv. the xfinity sports zone. use your voice to search every stat, standing and score. follow the teams you love. and, even get notifications with breaking news alerts and more. so you'll never miss an update. with the xfinity sports zone everybody wins. now that's simple, easy, awesome. click, call or visit a store for details.
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♪ >> welcome to our weekend edition of "access hollywood." i'm scott evans. sibley scoles will join us from her home in just a moment. so let's get right to the three stories from the week that you need to know. well, denzel washington and julia roberts are going to reunite on screen in the new netflix movie "leave the world behind." now, it's been 27 years since the two originally costarred in "the pelican brief." the spice girls will be featured in a new documentary that will mine hundreds of hours of archival footage to tell the story of the best-selling girl band of all time. and keanu reeves, our favorite -- there's a quiet applause happening right now --
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