Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer doesn’t care about the Constitution, or your rights. He’s willing to hide public records and cover up brutality to make sure you never find out about the crimes the Fresno Police Department commits.
That’s why he’s being sued.
The Fresno Bee reports that the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California contends city and police officials have violated the California Public Records Act, which typically requires public agencies to make records available within 10 days of a request.
The requested records pertain to training in areas such as officer bias, use of force, the discharging of firearms, investigating civilian complaints and interacting with the public.
The ACLU’s petition says the organization first requested the training records on Dec. 1, 2016. Since then, police have turned over some of the information, but not all of it, the petition says.
The ACLU said in court papers it is requesting the records “due to community concerns about the Fresno Police Department’s use of force and its interaction with communities of color.” The organization wants a judge to order the city to turn over all training-related records, except those that the court has determined to be lawfully withheld.
The petition is a latest salvo by the ACLU of Northern California against the city.
In 2009, a federal judge in Fresno gave final approval to a $2.35 million class-action settlement to hundreds of Fresno’s homeless residents, whose personal property, including essential medications, family photographs and personal documents had been confiscated by police and city workers.
The homeless were represented by the ACLU of Northern California, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and the law firm of Heller Ehrman LLP. U.S. District Judge Oliver W. Wanger ruled that the city and the California Department of Transportation had violated the homeless residents’ constitutional rights and issued an order that prohibiting the two agencies from continuing to seize and destroy the property of homeless people.
Also in 2009, the ACLU prevailed against Fresno in a Public Records Act lawsuit to compel the police department to release the names of two officers who were caught on video repeatedly punching a homeless man.
The latest court filing comes in the wake of an ACLU report, released in November, that says Fresno police officers fire their guns most often at black or Latino people. Many times, shooting incidents involve officers who discharged their weapons before, the report said.
In its petition, the ACLU says Fresno officers discharge their weapons more frequently that officers in other agencies. Between 2001 to 20016, Fresno police fired their weapons 146 times. “This is an average of approximately nine officer-involved shootings per year in Fresno, even though other jurisdictions can go years without a single officer-involved shooting,” the petition says.
In addition, 55 Fresno police officers have discharged their firearms more than once, and about seven officers have discharged their firearms four or more times, the petition says.
The ACLU contends the shootings have severely affected minorities and low-income individuals living in southern areas of Fresno. For example, between 2011 to 2016, the petition says, “black and Hispanic individuals account for 80 percent of officer-involved shootings victims in Fresno.” In comparison, the white, wealthier areas of north Fresno have had zero officer-involved shootings between 2006 and 2016, the petition says.