San Francisco Bay Area Thursday Morning News Roundup

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Thousands March in San Francisco's Mission District for Immigration Reform 

As many as a thousand protesters marched from San Francisco's Mission District to Civic Center Plaza Wednesday afternoon to call for immigration reform as part of a massive May Day rally.

The demonstration, held on a day that traditionally rallies around the labor community, focused on immigrants' rights as the U.S. Senate considers a sweeping immigration reform proposal.

The bill, crafted by the so-called "Gang of Eight" senators, includes a path to citizenship for the country's estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants.

However, many at the march said they are concerned about those being excluded from the proposed policies, including same-sex families.

Amos Lim, 42, of San Francisco, came to the U.S. from Singapore in 1999 to be with his now-husband, an American citizen.

Two years after arriving here his student visa expired and he faced possible deportation, but he was able to secure a green card through a job.

Lim, who was marching down Mission Street with Out4Immigration, said other same-sex couples are not as lucky, and need to be included in the language of the immigration reform bill.

"We are sending a message to Congress that they need to support our inclusion," he said.

The group is urging U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-San Francisco, to include LGBTQ families in the Uniting American Families Act, which was introduced in the Senate in February.

The bill proposes changes to immigration policy for bi-national partners.

Putri Siti, 19, who was planning to speak at the rally in front of City Hall around 5 p.m., said her family faced deportation back to Indonesia last year because of their undocumented status.

As she marched with the group ASPIRE, or Asian Students Promoting Immigrant Rights through Education, Putri said she came here with her family so she could have more educational opportunities.

Through help from a San Francisco immigrant advocacy group, her family was able to stay in the U.S. and she will attend the University of California of Berkeley in the fall.

"I'm marching to tell the government we need immigration reform now," she said. Self-identified undocumented immigrant Emmanuel Valenciano, 24, said he used to be afraid of deportation and was constantly worried about the future.

"We try to stay in the shadows," he said. However, Valenciano, whose family is from the Philippines, is now urging others to mobilize.

He said he is marching to show that undocumented people are often criminalized and struggle because of a lack of job and financial security.

"We need a solution," he said.

Thomas Frazier Files Plan to Reform Oakland Police Department

The compliance director appointed by a federal judge to oversee reforms in the Oakland Police Department that were mandated in the settlement of a police brutality lawsuit a decade ago filed a plan Wednesday to achieve those reforms.

Thomas Frazier, who formerly headed Baltimore's Police Department and oversaw police reforms in Los Angeles, Cincinnati and Detroit, said in his 59-page filing with U.S. District Court Judge Thelton Henderson that "very few of the items we list in this plan can be initiated easily and painlessly."

Frazier said, "The road ahead will certainly be rocky and occasionally divisive" but he said he also feels "confident that we can navigate these issues and produce a solid foundation for the future success of the Oakland Police Department."

On Jan. 22, 2003, Henderson approved the settlement of a lawsuit filed by 119 Oakland citizens who alleged that four officers known as the "Riders" beat them, made false arrests and planted evidence on them in 2000.

Three of the officers faced two lengthy trials on multiple criminal charges stemming from the allegations against them but they ultimately weren't convicted of any crimes.

The fourth officer fled to Mexico and was never prosecuted.

The settlement called for the Police Department to complete 51 reforms but 12 remain uncompleted.

The department's slow progress in complying with the mandated reforms prompted civil rights attorneys John Burris and James Chanin, who represent the plaintiffs in the case, to seek a federal takeover of the Oakland Police Department last year and have a federal receiver appointed.

But an agreement reached in December instead called for Henderson to appoint an independent compliance director to be in charge of completing all the reforms and Henderson appointed Frazier in March.

Frazier has the power to fire Oakland police Chief Howard Jordan and order city leaders to spend money on improvements in police practices.

An independent monitor who also has been overseeing the department's reforms, Robert Warshaw, said in his quarterly report earlier this week that he approves of Frazier having such power because Frazier "can hold to great account those in the city and (Police) Department who have the responsibility to institute these reforms."

Burris said Wednesday that he also thinks that Frazier's presence in Oakland has "contributed to the department stepping up its efforts to make the improvements dictated by the court settlement."

Burris said Frazier's plan is "overall a good effort to address the needed reforms" but he thinks Frazier "ultimately has to be more specific in addressing issues such as racial profiling and the use of firearms" by officers who confront suspects.

Frazier said in his filing that he and his staff have only had six weeks so far "to understand a complex issue that has lingered for over ten years."

Oregon State Police Confirm Marin Carjacker Wanted for Homicide 

Oregon State Police confirmed Wednesday afternoon that a man arrested on suspicion of carjacking, attempted carjacking and kidnapping in Sonoma and Marin counties also is a suspect in a homicide in Oregon.

Jeffrey Griffin Boyce, 30, of North Bend, Ore. is the primary suspect in the murder of a woman at the Winchester Wayfinding Point along U.S. Highway 101 three miles south of Reedsport, Ore., Oregon State Police Lt. Steve Mitchell said in a news release.

Investigators have identified the woman and are waiting for confirmation from the Oregon State Medical Examiner's Office, Mitchell said.

A couple found the woman's body around 8:20 a.m. Sunday, and the initial investigation indicates the homicide occurred that morning, Oregon State Police said.

On Monday, Boyce was arrested in the Bay Area. Rohnert Park police said Boyce kidnapped a man and forced him to drive in the victim's BMW to a church then back to the shopping center around 4:30 p.m. Boyce then allegedly carjacked the BMW and drove to Marin County.

San Francisco police informed Bay Area law enforcement agencies Boyce was reportedly mentally ill and was in possession of firearms.

San Francisco police also were informed by Boyce's mother that her son might be seeking asylum at the Russian consulate in San Francisco.

Boyce then allegedly tried to carjack a Mill Valley's woman's 2013 Toyota Tacoma in the Bon Air Shopping Center in Greenbrae around 6:30 p.m. Monday.

The woman was able to calm Boyce down and he walked away when he heard approaching police sirens.

The Central Marin Police Authority then arrested Boyce after he allegedly tried to break into a residence on Elizabeth Circle in Greenbrae, Central Marin Police Authority Cpl. Sethi Jervan said.

Boyce is being held under no bail in the Marin County jail on six felony charges that include attempted carjacking, false imprisonment, threatening to commit a crime and attempted first-degree burglary.

Rohnert Park Department of Public Safety Sgt. Aaron Johnson said Rohnert Park police found several hundred bullets and six 30-round magazines in the truck Boyce left behind in Rohnert Park, Sgt. Aaron Johnson said.

City College of San Francisco's Teachers File Complaint Against Accrediting Commission 

City College of San Francisco's teachers have filed a complaint against the accrediting commission that placed sanctions on the school last year, accusing the commission of intimidation, a lack of due process and other violations.

The American Federation of Teachers Local 2121, which represents about 600 faculty members at CCSF, joined the California Federation of Teachers to file the third-party complaint on Tuesday against the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges.

The commission last July placed CCSF on "show cause" status, citing more than a dozen problems with the school and requiring it to show improvement or possibly lose its accreditation when the commission issues a ruling on June 10.

Alisa Messer, AFT Local 2121 president, said, "Conflicts of interest, inconsistencies and violations of due process ... clearly prevented the ACCJC from evaluating City College of San Francisco in a fair manner."

Messer said it was "unprecedented to go from no sanctions to 'show cause'" and said that student enrollment has dropped sharply because of the accreditation concerns and fears that the school could be forced to close.

"It's thrown the college into turmoil," she said.

The 280-page complaint, which was filed with both the ACCJC and the U.S. Department of Education, argues that there are no fair procedures for appealing sanctions from the commission and that the commission does not allow adequate time for schools to respond to the sanctions.

The complaint also states that commission president Barbara Beno placed her husband Peter Crabtree on the team that evaluated CCSF, among other conflicts of interest.

The complaint concludes by asking for CCSF to be taken off of "show cause" status, among other recommendations.

CFT president Joshua Pechthalt said the complaint is the only means to challenge the commission, saying it has a lack of oversight and transparency and intimidates community college districts around the state.

"There's a climate of fear and intimidation throughout the community college system," Pechthalt said.

"People are afraid to speak up and raise concerns about the behavior of this accrediting commission because they could incur the wrath of the commission and lead to further sanctions."

Protestor Sentenced to Two Years in Prison for Throwing Bricks at San Francisco Police 

A year to the day after he was arrested for throwing bricks at San Francisco police officers, a protester was sentenced Wednesday to two years in state prison for a felony assault charge, prosecutors said.

Jesse Nesbitt, 35, was one of dozens of people who occupied a building at 888 Turk St. on May 1, 2012, after marching from a May Day rally downtown.

Nesbitt threw bricks and other projectiles from the roof of the building during the occupation.

The bricks missed the officers but struck a bystander, who declined medical attention, and also struck a police vehicle.

He was charged with two counts of assault with a deadly weapon, two counts of assault upon a police officer with a deadly weapon and one count of vandalism, but agreed on Jan. 29 to plead guilty to one count of assault with a deadly weapon, district attorney's office spokesman Alex Bastian said.

The charge is a strike under California's three strikes law and is Nesbitt's first strike, Bastian said. 

California Legislators Sign Off on Funding to Take Back Guns from Prohibited People

California Attorney General Kamala Harris Wednesday lauded the passage and signing of legislation providing funding for a program to take guns away from prohibited people around the state.

Senate Bill 140, authored by state Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, was signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown Wednesday.

The legislation provides $24 million in funding to allow the attorney general to hire 36 additional agents for the Armed and Prohibited Persons (APPS) program.

The program, which Harris said is the only one of its kind in the nation, uses existing databases to find people who previously registered for and purchased firearms but were later prohibited from owning them.

People can become prohibited from owning a firearm if they are convicted of a felony or violent misdemeanor, deemed to be mentally unstable or are placed under a domestic violence restraining order.

Harris said the legislation, will "give the resources that are necessary to remove over 40,000 firearms" that are possessed illegally in the state.

She was joined in San Francisco by the city's police chief, Greg Suhr, who called Wednesday "a great day in California."

Suhr said gun arrests are up nearly double from the same time last year in San Francisco and that the legislation will help make the city safer.

Harris said she has talked to Vice President Joe Biden urging him to make APPS a national model, calling it "a commonsense, practical approach" to fighting crime.

She said the additional agents will help because at least six go out at a time when they check on people in the database who are known to have either a history of violence or mental instability.

"It's potentially a very dangerous situation," she said. Over the past two years, state Department of Justice agents have investigated nearly 4,000 people and seized nearly 4,000 weapons, including more than 300 assault weapons, according to the attorney general's office.

The funding for the additional agents comes from a fund created by fees paid by gun owners at the time of purchase.

Oakland Couple Arrested in Sonoma Plaza for Theft and Stolen Property Charges

An Oakland couple was arrested on theft and stolen property charges after a pursuit and huge search in the Sonoma Plaza area Wednesday afternoon.

The events began when a woman reported a man breaking into her car in the 200 block of Temelec Circle in Schellville while a woman waited in a burgundy van nearby around 10:20 a.m., Sonoma Police Chief Bret Sackett said.

A sheriff's deputy stopped the van on Arnold Drive in Petaluma, and the female driver drove off with the auto burglary suspect reclining in the passenger seat.

The deputy was struck in the arm with the van's side view mirror as the van fled, Sackett said.

The van, later determined to have been stolen in Concord, was found abandoned in the 300 block of First Street West in Sonoma, Sackett said.

A citizen then reported seeing someone throw a shotgun out of the van at Petaluma Avenue and Riverside Drive after fleeing the traffic stop, and the shotgun was later covered at that intersection, Sackett said. Deputies searched the Sonoma Plaza area and a vineyard area off Lovall Valley Road where a man was seen running, Sackett said.

Businesses in the area were notified of the search and were asked to call police with any information.

Police received a call around 1 p.m. from a man in La Casa restaurant on the Sonoma Plaza who said a man matching the suspect's description asked to use his cell phone.

Deputies responded and arrested James Rivas, 37, of Oakland and continued searching for the female suspect, Sackett said.

At 2 p.m., a woman reported her home in the 300 block of First Street West had been burglarized and her Toyota Camry was stolen, Sackett said.

Evidence indicated the female suspect changed into some of the victim's clothing.

Deputies located the Camry around 2:45 p.m. parked in front of the Cheese Factory on Spain Street, and detectives in unmarked cars staked-out the Camry waiting for the female suspect to return.

The female, dressed in the victim's clothing and carrying a bag of items stolen from the woman's house, returned to the Camry at 2:45 p.m., Sackett said.

Police arrested 33-year-old Marissa Serafino of Oakland for possession of stolen property, evading arrest, resisting arrest, assault on a police officer, burglary, vehicle theft and weapons charges, Sackett said.

Rivas was arrested for possession of stolen property, resisting arrest, violation of community parole, and being a felon in possession of a firearm, ammunition and a loaded firearm Sackett said.

Both suspects also were arrested on outstanding burglary warrants out of Alameda County, Sackett said.

Former Contra Costa County Preschool Teacher Charged with Child Molestation

A former Contra Costa County preschool teacher has been charged with child molestation in connection with several victims, a prosecutor said Wednesday.

Anthony D'Tileo, 23, was arrested and charged with four counts of lewd and lascivious acts against a child under age 14, senior deputy District Attorney Nancy Georgiou said.

He is being held in county jail in Martinez on more than $1 million bail, she said.

Georgiou said D'Tileo was employed at a preschool in Contra Costa County but declined to say whether the victims were students at the school, citing privacy rights.

D'Tileo is scheduled to return to court in Martinez today to set future court dates.

4-Year-Old Girl Recovers after Near Drowing in Antioch Fitness Club Pool 

A 4-year-old girl has recovered after nearly drowning in a fitness club pool in Antioch over the weekend, Contra Costa County Fire Marshal Lewis Broschard said Wednesday.

The near drowning happened at the In-Shape Sport gym at 4099 Lone Tree Way shortly after 6 p.m. Saturday, the fire marshal said.

Fitness center staff members pulled the young girl from the gym's pool after she appeared to be drowning and performed CPR on her until paramedics got there, Broschard said.

A fire engine arrived at the scene within two minutes, and two paramedics immediately began performing advanced life-saving techniques on the girl, who had no pulse and wasn't breathing, he said.

Broschard said fire personnel were able to resuscitate the girl, who was breathing and had regained a pulse by the time an ambulance arrived.

The girl was taken to Children's Hospital in Oakland, and she had made a full recovery by Tuesday.

She is alert, active and has regained all motor skills with no loss of neurological functions, Broschard said.

He said the incident is a reminder of the value of quick response times and firefighters with emergency medical training.

Broschard encouraged parents and guardians to remember to keep a close eye on children in and around pools as the weather heats up.

Information about drowning prevention can be found at www.safekids.org.

Water Polo Coach at Walnut Creek High School Arrested for Sexual Assualt Against a Minor

An assistant water polo coach at a Walnut Creek high school has been arrested and charged with nine sexual assault felonies against a minor, authorities said.

Contra Costa County sheriff's deputies arrested 27-year-old Christopher Yang in Walnut Creek last Thursday morning on an outstanding warrant on suspicion of sex crimes against a minor, sheriff's spokesman Jimmy Lee said.

The Walnut Creek man was taken to county jail in Martinez that morning and released later Thursday night on $390,000 bail, Lee said.

Prosecutors charged him with four felony counts of unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor, two counts of sexual penetration of a minor and three counts of oral copulation of a minor, according to the Contra Costa County District Attorney's Office.

He is set to return to court in Martinez for arraignment on May 20. Senior deputy District Attorney Nancy Georgiou said Yang at one time worked as an assistant water polo coach at Northgate High School, located at 425 Castle Rock Road.

She said she did not know whether he is still employed at the school.

Neither school administrators nor Mt. Diablo Unified School District were available for comment Wednesday afternoon.

Two Monterey Men Charged with 2010 Murder of 6-Year-Old Boy

One man was arraigned and another entered a plea Wednesday in Monterey County Superior Court in Salinas in the 2010 murder of a 6-year-old boy, a deputy district attorney said.

Bernardo Camacho and Edmundo Pulido, both 21, have been jointly charged with first-degree murder in the boy's March 2010 death during a gang-related dispute, Deputy District Attorney David Rabow said.

Camacho was arraigned on the murder charges while Pulido entered a plea of not guilty before Judge Pamela Butler, said Rabow, who is prosecuting both men.

Camacho told the judge he needed counsel from the public defender's office and Butler ordered him back into court for a hearing on Friday, Rabow said.

Butler set a preliminary hearing for Pulido for May 10 but also set a calendar call to confirm it on May 8, Rabow said.

Prosecutors claim that in 2010, Camacho came down a Salinas street near where the child victim lived and fired a gun during an altercation with gang members, Rabow said.

An errant bullet from Camacho's gun hit the boy, who had no relation to him, in the head while the child stood in the back of his parent's home, Rabow said.

Both defendants face sentences of life without the possibility of parole, he said.

Pulido is also charged with first-degree murder in a separate homicide from 2010.

Camacho himself also may be charged in a gang-related robbery for which he failed to appear in court in April 2010, Rabow said.

He was recently arrested in Mexico on an arrest warrant related to the robbery, Rabow said.

San Francisco Bay Area Weather Report

Sunny skies are likely in the Bay Area this morning.

Highs are expected to be in the mid 70s to upper 80s, with winds up to 15 mph in the afternoon.

A heat advisory is in effect from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. this evening.

Clear skies are likely tonight. Lows are likely to be in the mid 50s, with winds up to 20 mph.

Sunny skies are expected Friday morning.

Highs are likely to be in the 60s to 70s, with winds up to 15 mph.

 

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