California resident discusses appeal filed with Citizens Police Review Board

Wednesday, July 28, 2010 | 3:44 p.m. CDT; updated 5:14 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, July 28, 2010

COLUMBIA — One of the California residents who filed an appeal with Columbia's Citizens Police Review Board over the Feb. 11 SWAT raid is in Columbia to bring attention to their effort.

Angela Bacca, who is visiting Columbia, and Ed Rosenthal, who filed the appeal, are representatives of Green Aid, a medical marijuana defense and education fund. The group tries to use the court system to change marijuana laws.

The two originally filed a complaint with the police department, and later filed the appeal with the review board after Police Chief Ken Burton sent them a letter saying he had exonerated the officers involved in the Feb. 11 SWAT raid at 1501 Kinloch Court. During the raid in question, officers killed one dog and injured another family dog. A child was also present during the raid. Police found a small amount of marijuana in the house.

Being from California doesn't affect her concern about the SWAT raid, Bacca said, adding that she is from another state, not another country.

"I am an American," she said.

 According to a previous Missourian article, during the review board's July 14 meeting, board member Susan Smith questioned Rosenthal's standing to file a complaint because he wasn't present during the raid. She also took issue with the fact that Rosenthal doesn't have a personal stake in the issue.

"The complainant admits that he only knew of the incident from a public Internet site that he voluntarily visited," Smith said during the meeting. "He has no known relationships to any parties in the incidents."

According to the city ordinance that established the review board, the board is supposed to review appeals from the police chief's decisions about alleged police  misconduct. The ordinance makes no mention of jurisdiction or who can file an appeal.

Under the current ordinance, the review board has an obligation to hear the appeal, so focusing on her and Rosenthal's place of residence is a "total waste of time," said Bacca, the Green Aid media coordinator.

"I really wish they'd stop wasting their time talking about the fact that we're from (the state of) California," Bacca said.

Both Bacca and Rosenthal have been working with local attorney Dan Viets to get Columbia residents involved in the appeal. Viets, a representative of the Mid-Missouri American Civil Liberties Union, has collected local signatures to for an appeal to send to the review board. This local appeal is a separate appeal from the one Bacca and Rosenthal sent to the review board, Viets said.

He said it was necessary to create a separate, locally generate appeal in order to end the discussion about standing and "bring the discussion back to the topic of the Kinloch Court incident."

During her trip to Columbia, Bacca said she has met with city officials and activist groups, including Burton and representatives from the MU chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.

The review board is scheduled to meet Aug. 4, to discuss the SWAT raid. Rosenthal plans to attend that meeting, Bacca said. He also plans to hold a rally outside the new city hall building following the meeting.

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Carlos Sanchez July 28, 2010 | 4:32 p.m.

What we are now going to let citizens from outside of our community come here and tell us how to run our community?

(Report Comment)
John Schultz July 28, 2010 | 5:21 p.m.

Maybe you should have spoken up when the review board ordinance was before the council and pointed that out? I don't think even the police officers' union noticed the issue. Now will the city council go overboard in closing that so-called loophole? I don't live in Columbia proper, but should I be able to appeal a review of a hypothetical friend's case if I live in the county?

(Report Comment)
Carlos Sanchez July 28, 2010 | 6:10 p.m.

Mr Schulz all of your points are very valid. It is obvious the City Council needs to do something. If they let every one and anyone file these suits it will be a nightmare.

(Report Comment)
Eapen Thampy July 30, 2010 | 1:35 p.m.

the standing issue in Ed's complaint presumes several unfair things. Ed does have long-standing relationships with members of this community, and it is unfair and unjust to presume otherwise out of ignorance. It is also unfair to stipulate who may file a complaint; this is an open and free land, and we conduct commerce and the varied activities of life in all other parts of this country, bound by the common laws. In a very direct sense any American who may conceivably conduct business in Columbia, or visit family, or for pleasure, has a direct and vested interest in not being in the wrong house at the wrong night and be the victim of overwhelming force in a community where voters have expressed their clear intent to relegate these offenses to the lowest law enforcement priority.

The other major issue is not of standing, but of voice. Overwhelming violence is used to capture offenders who are non-violent and may be acquired in much more peaceful ways. After being victimized, families are terrified of voicing complaint; they have already been violently attacked, and fear retaliation from a police force that does retaliate.

Reference particularly the case of the young man who publicly complained that his rights were violated and his complaint stymied by Columbia's Internal Affairs department. A police officer posting under the cover of anonymity retaliated by illegally disclosing closed records of this young man's juvenile history. There was an investigation, but the officer remains on the force. There is no way for this community to trust that someone who has once violated the awesome trust that comes with wielding the power of the state will not violate that trust again.

The tone of these incidents brings a chill to those who are convinced that their exercise of their free speech may yet again be violated with force or other retaliation. To cut off their access to voices from outside the community is to silence the voices that have real complaints and risk real retaliation from voicing their petition.

I have worked with Ed and represent dozens of Columbia residents who support what Ed has done in defense of our civil liberties. There was no need to serve the Kinloch warrant late and with violence; with simple forethought, they could have served the warrant safely and without harm to dogs.

And there was no reason to kick a subdued man, for whom there was no arrest warrant, while he was down and cuffed.

Eapen Thampy
Policy Analyst
Americans for Forfeiture Reform

(Report Comment)

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