ATLANTA CITIZEN REVIEW BOARD
MINUTES OF THE LAST MEETING
Meeting Date: February 11, 2010, 6:30 p.m.
Location: 55 TRINITY AVENUE, S.W., COMMITTEE ROOM TWO, ATLANTA, GEORGIA 30303
BOARD MEMBERS IN ATTENDANCE
J.L. BOOKER (Booker); RODERICK EDMOND (Chair/Edmond) arrived 7:10 p.m.; SETH KIRSCHENBAUM (Kirschenbaum); CHARIS JOHNSON (Johnson) arrived 7:00 p.m.; OWEN MONTAGUE (Montague) arrived 6:42 p.m.; JOY MORRISSEY (Morrissey); JOHN MICHAEL (Michael) arrived 6:43 p.m.; ALAN MORRIS (Morris); SHARESE SHIELDS (Shields)
BOARD MEMBERS ABSENT
MACEO WILLIAMS (Williams)
MARC ADDINGTON, Investigator (Addington); CRISTINA BEAMUD, Executive Director (Director/Beamud): SHEENA ROBERTSON, Investigator (Robertson); MYOLA SMITH, Administrative Analyst (Smith/Transcriber); WILLIAM CASTINGS, Board Legal Advisor, COA Law Department Castings)
GUEST ATTENDEES: Commander Major Moses Perdue, Office of Professional Standards, Atlanta Police Department
CALL TO ORDER
Vice Chair Kirschenbaum officiated the January meeting until the arrival of the Chair.
The meeting was called to order at 6:35 p.m.
A G E N D A
APPROVAL OF MNUTES OF THE LAST MEETING
The Vice Chair asked if there were any corrections to the minutes. There were no corrections noted. Booker moved to approve the Minutes for January 14, 2010. Seconded by Morris. The motion was approved.
DISCUSSION OF INVESTIGATION #09-13 COMPLAINT
Complaint #09-13 was filed August 26, 2009. A completed investigation was distributed to the Board on January 14, 2010.
A. SUMMARY OF COMPLAINT
Vice-Chair Kirschenbaum summarized the complaint and Investigator Addington providing additional details.
The Complainant alleged that on January 26, 2009, at approximately 3:00 p.m., she was standing on the sidewalk in front of a convenient store at 371 Boulevard with four other ladies when Officer Brandy Dolson pulled up and ordered them to ‘move on.’ Everyone walked away; however, the Complainant stayed and asked the Officer why they had to leave. “I am a citizen and a taxpayer, why do I have to move? I am not doing anything wrong.” The Complainant explained that she was just talking with friends about a funeral for a sister. She stated that the officer responded, ‘because I said so’ and he got out of the car told the female officer to search and handcuff her. She was taken into custody and charged with a city ordinance violation. The Complainant was held for nine hours.
B. WHAT THE INVESTIGATION REVEALED
The complainant was interviewed. She stated that the group was on the sidewalk for five minutes or less. The Complainant’s friend (included in the group) witnessed the incident and confirmed that they were on the sidewalk discussing funeral arrangement for a friend and was approached by two police officers. The witness explained that Officer Dolson became upset and then had the female officer (Nelson) to place the Complainant under arrest. The witness also indicated that the group (five or less people) was standing outside the store, but did not inhibit the ability of others to move past them or to enter the store. According to the Complainant, the criminal case was dismissed in court because the officers did not appear. This was confirmed in the court records.
The police report, submitted by Officer Nelson, said that the officers directed the group to leave and they all left except the Complainant. The report claims that the Complainant yelled, “why” and refused to leave after being instructed to do so several times.
Officer Nelson was interviewed and said that she remembered the arrest but could not provide specific details. She could not remember how many people were in the group and she said that both she and Office Dolson told the group to move from the area. Officer Nelson indicated that everyone left except the Complainant. Officer Nelson union representative provided additional charges that he claims could have been brought against Ms. Carey. Officer Dolson appeared in the ACRB office and refused to submit to an interview.
The Atlanta Police Department SOP – 3030, 4.1.3. outlines when an individual may be charged with Disorderly Conduct. It states that disorderly conduct charges “will not be used to interfere with, restrict, or deny citizens’ rights of speech, press or religion, unless an actual obstruction or impediment occurs, s specified in the ordinance.” It further states that, “officers will not interfere with or cause the arrest for obstruction of public passages of any person who is, or appears to be engaged in prayer, conversation, oratory, display and/or distribution of literature, display of picket signs reading of scriptures, singing and chanting without the approval of a sworn supervisor.” There was no indication that a supervisor was called and there was no indication that the group standing on the sidewalk impeded the flow of pedestrian traffic.
B. COMPLAINANT RECOMMENDATION
- STAFF RECOMMENDATION: The staff recommended that the Board vote to sustain the allegation of False Arrest. The recommendation was made because there was insufficient evidence to support the criminal charge of Disorderly Conduct and also, the officer did not contact a supervisor as required by the SOP.
- Following a brief discussion, the Board voted to adopt the recommendation of the staff. The vote was approved.
C. DISCLIPLINE RECOMMENDATION
After the vote was adopted, Vice Chair Kirschenbaum turned the discussion to recommending discipline.
- Kirschenbaum asked Beamud what the SOP said about the offense. Beamud replied that it was a Category ‘B’ offense. “It is difficult for us to access because this officer has some disciplinary history. The guidelines indicated that a Category B offense is a serious work rule violation and if you have a previous sustained complaint for a Category B, the violation is even more serious.”
- A question was then raised about Officers Dolson’s background and the number of complaints currently lodged against him. Investigator Addington stated that there are three (3) investigations against the officer pending and three other complaints against him have been sustained related to motor vehicle typed offenses. “Officer Dolson started in 2001 and has had eighteen (18) complaints against him.”
- Kirschenbaum asked Addington about the nature of the other complaints. Addington indicated that he would have to request the additional information.
- “A sixty-two (62) year old woman was handcuffed, arrested and put into a police wagon because she only asked ‘why.’ I need to see more details. Do we really want officers on the street arresting good citizens?” said Kirschenbaum. Beamud agreed.Shields asked Addington if the Complainant filed a complaint with OPS. Addington responded, yes. Shields said, “Historically, we know that OPS drags cases out for a long period of time and the Board has no way of knowing if the Police Department will give our recommendations any legitimate consideration.”
- Kirschenbaum said, “So far our recommendations have not been heard, but we still have a job to do. The recommendation regarding this case could be very different if I knew what this officer has been accused of.”
Following the discussion, it was moved by Michael to hold off making a recommendation until more information is available on the officer. Motion was seconded by Shields. The vote was approved with one member opposing (Owen Montague) and one member abstaining (Joy Morrissey).
The Vice Chair raised the question about what the Board intended to do regarding officers refusing to cooperate and be interviewed as required by law.
A. OFFICERS REFUSING TO COOPERATE AS REQUIRED BY LAW
- For the record, Shields read the list of officer who either never appeared or appeared and refused to be interviewed. A total of 26 officers have refused to cooperate. Those officers are:
- Kirschenbaum stated the Board has been frustrated by the fact that former APD Chief Pennington did nothing to assist the Board with this problem. “Since this Mayor has only been in office for a little over a month, let’s give him a little more time. My recommendation to the Executive Director is to continue to work with the Mayor’s Office to get a meeting and the Interim Chief of Police to get answers. We can still use our subpoena power but if we can’t get a meeting with the Mayor and the Chief will not respond then we can dramatically intensify our efforts and even consider a writ of mandamus to get officers to comply.”
- Booker said, “It would be unfair to not give them some time.”
Craig Fries Ivory Streeter James Patterson
Carl Wilson Michael Skillman Drew A. Bahry
Roderick Johnson Christopher Lanier Darnell Perry
Dominique Patillo Zoel Murphy Frank Esquilin
Brandy Dolson James Hines David Stribbling
Bennie Bridges Kelly Collier Peter Trotta
Deontaye Harris Luis Gonzalez Craig Codon
William Porter Brandon Jackson Stephanie Upton
Timothy McClain Jeremy Edwards
NOTE: Before discussing the next action item, Chair Edmond arrived at 7:10 p.m. and chaired the remainder of the meeting starting at 7:30 p.m.
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR’S REPORT:
A copy of the Director’s report was distributed to each member. Beamud reported the following:
- ANNUAL REPORT
- ETHICS FILING
- KATHRYN JOHNSTON REPORTS:
Beamud announced that Robertson had begun to compose the annual report. The report will focus on the Board’s accomplishments, our mission and community relationships. Suggestions and recommendations are encouraged.
All Board Members are required to file financial disclosures. Members with questions should call the Ethics Office at 404-330-6286. Montague indicated that he was having trouble filing on line. He has contacted the Ethics Office regarding the problem.
Beamud stated that she is completing two of the three reports involved in the study. She indicated that she is awaiting a response regarding whether the Police Department will be asserting the investigation exemption to the Public Records Act requiring the Board to discuss the study findings in Executive Session. The Chief of Police and ACRB’s attorney in the Law Department has been asked to respond.
Beamud reported that the budget is due on March 5, 2010. “I will be asking for increases in personnel cost because the addition of the second investigator for an entire fiscal year, will result in much greater costs. Also, an increase in professional development is needed for additional training.” Beamud also proposed for the Board’s consideration, a new position, Public Information/Communication Specialist to assist in the positive promotion of the board activity and coordinate, build community and media relation
It was moved by Morrissey moved to accept the Executive Director’s Report. Booker seconded. The motion was carried.
ELECTION OF OFFICERS
The Board voted in new officers for 2010:
- Joy Morrissey was elected Chair replacing Roderick Edmond
- Seth Kirschenbaum retained the position of Vice Chair
- Charis Johnson was elected Secretary replacing Joy Morrissey
The Chair entertained a motion to adjourn. Booker moved to adjourn and Morris seconded. Motion approved. Meeting adjourned at 8:05 p.m.