Tuesday Morning News Roundup
County To Consider New Deal Meant To Improve SJ Fire’s Response Time To 911 Emergencies
San Jose and Santa Clara County will consider today a new incentive contract for emergency medical services as the San Jose Fire Department struggles to meet county standards to be on time for at least 90 percent of its 911 emergency responses.
The one-year pact, on the meeting agendas for both the San Jose City Council and the county’s Board of Supervisors, would restore funds the county withheld from San Jose in February after the city failed to meet the 90 percent standard in 22 of 25 months going back to 2012, according to Supervisor Joe Simitian.
The amended agreement, to be in effect from January to December next year, would release about $1.5 million in funds withheld by the county for 10 months through August but only if the city meets the minimum 90 percent on-time standards for six consecutive months, according to city Fire Chief Ruben Torres.
Simitian said the intent of amended agreement with the Fire Department was to both hold it accountable for meeting 911 response times and offer a financial incentive to improve their performance.
The county’s contract with San Jose and fire departments in other cities in the county, signed in 2011, offered the cities $3.6 million in payments for complying with the county’s standards of arriving to high-priority Code 3 911 calls in under 8 minutes and Code 2 ambulance calls in below 13 minutes.
But San Jose has been the only city in the county with on-time incentives that has failed to meet the 90 percent minimum for emergency responses for three consecutive months, according to Simitian.
That failure put the city in breach of its county contract for first responder funding, prompting the supervisors to halt payments and last March to order an audit of the department’s 911 response policies and suggest ways for the city to meet response time goals.
The audit, by Harvey M. Rose Associates and released on Dec. 1, produced a series of recommendations after a review of 143,000 emergency 911 calls by the Fire Department, of which about 119,000, were medical emergencies, according to county audit manager Roger Mialocq.
The audit, which focused on a database of 89,517 Code 3 emergency calls from July 1, 2012 to April 30 2014, listed 24 recommendations for San Jose fire to improve its one-time performance.
One was to conduct a comprehensive review of areas of responsibility for Code 3 911 calls for all of the department’s 33 stations, which has not been done in about 10 years, according to the audit.
Fire In Vacant Residence Causes $100,000 Damage
A fire caused $100,000 of damage to a vacant and unoccupied residence in east Santa Rosa early Monday morning, a fire department battalion chief said.
The cause of the fire is under investigation, but it appears to be related to renovation work that was under way at the home at 1315 Hahman Drive, Battalion Chief Michael Jones said.
The first-floor living area and carport of the two-story residence were in flames when firefighters arrived around 3:40 a.m., Jones said.
Strong winds were pushing the flames to a nearby residence but firefighters were able to contain the blaze to the first-floor and carport area of the structure, Jones said. A second alarm was called to check and search the two rear stories and basement of the residence, Jones said.
The fire caused $100,000 damage to the structure and $1,000 to the contents of the residence, Jones said. No injuries were reported.
Bystander Injured By Gunfire When Victim Chases Robber’s Car
A robbery victim chased his assailants through Richmond until they shot at him and injured a bystander on Monday morning, a police sergeant said.
Police received reports of a shooting in the 2700 block of Oxford Avenue at 11:38 a.m., Sgt. Nicole Abetkov said. While on their way there they found out about a nearby car crash involving the purported robber and victim.
The robbery victim apparently got into his car and chased the robber or robbers. While he was pursuing the suspect car, one of the possibly two suspects opened fire on him but he was not hit by gunfire, Abetkov said.
He stopped pursuing the other car, but the suspect driver started pursuing him and eventually they both crashed near Shane Drive and Fordham Street, according to Abetkov.
They got into a fight but the robber or robbers fled the area. The victim was not seriously injured.
Police found out about a person in a nearby yard in the 2800 block of Devon Way. When they found that person, the victim identified him as one of the robbery suspects.
Police are still investigating and have not identified that person. There are conflicting reports and police have not determined if there actually is a second suspect, Abetkov said.
While police were investigating the chase, they found out about a man who walked into Doctors Medical Center in San Pablo with a graze wound on his head.
The man lives in the upper level of a duplex in the 3100 block of Birmingham Drive and apparently was struck by stray gunfire from the shooting during the chase.
Father Of Michael Brown Speaks With Students At Mission High School
Michael Brown Sr., whose son’s death in Ferguson, Missouri by a police officer sparked a wave of protests in the Bay Area and around the country, met with hundreds of San Francisco high school students from across the city Monday evening to discuss issues regarding race and society.
Cepheus Johnson, known to the community as Uncle Bobby, is the uncle of Oscar Grant III, who was shot and killed by police in Oakland, and also spoke with students Monday who gathered after classes let out for the day at Mission High School.
The student forum was held by Mission High School’s Black Student Union in conjunction with the NAACP. The forum was held in a crowded auditorium with large banners that read, “I can’t breathe” and “black lives matter all lives matter.”
A question-and-answer session was held with Brown Sr., Johnson and religious leaders in the community. Afterwards, the president of Mission High School’s Black Student Union, 16-year-old Hatim Mansori, listed actions that the students want to see implemented to protect the lives of people in San Francisco.
Many students asked the panel of speakers what they could do to help and ensure that both the lives and deaths of Michael Brown and Oscar Grant are remembered and honored. Other students expressed their frustration about inequality and wanted to know what was needed to see change in their community.
The Rev. Amos Brown spoke with students at the forum and urged those who are upset about racial inequality and police brutality to register to vote when they turn 18, reminding students that juries are comprised of registered voters.
Michael Brown Sr. encouraged students to stay in school and remember that by making art and music about their personal struggles and the struggles of others they can express themselves and make change.
Eric Guthertz, principal of Mission High School, also spoke to students, urging them to “think deeply” and the take action in a peaceful, respectful and collaborative way.
Before the students and panel dispersed, a group of students lay on the floor of the stage representing those who have been killed by police and urging students to keep up the fight for equality and justice.
During the student performance, performers chanted, “I can’t breathe” representing those who had been killed and in response, those in the auditorium chanted, “We’ll breathe for you.”
Man Seriously Injured In North Beach Shooting Early Sunday
A man was seriously injured in a shooting in San Francisco’s North Beach neighborhood early Sunday morning, police said Monday.
The shooting was reported around 3 a.m. Sunday near Columbus Avenue and Broadway Street.
The 18-year-old victim flagged down a vehicle and asked to be taken to San Francisco General Hospital, where he was treated for life-threatening gunshot injuries, police said.
The victim was not able to give more information about the shooting before going into surgery. The suspect in the shooting remained at large as of Monday morning, according to police.
Anyone with information about the shooting is asked to call the Police Department’s anonymous tip line at (415) 575-4444 or to send a tip by text message to TIP411 with “SFPD” in the message.
Man Acquitted After Being Arrested For Setting A Mercedes On Fire
A 48-year-old man initially believed to have broken into a luxury apartment garage and then torched a Mercedes sedan in San Francisco’s South Beach neighborhood during the summer was acquitted Friday after a jury determined his arrest was based on unreliable identification, San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi said Monday.
San Francisco resident Anthony Bejarano was arrested based on tips that came in after police released photos and a video of the suspected arsonist.
On June 19, a Mercedes was found ablaze in the parking garage of One Rincon Hill apartments, located at the intersection of First and Harrison streets, according to the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office.
A valet told the property manager that he saw a man standing in front of the car shortly before the fire and then saw the man running from the building.
According to the public defender’s office, Bejarano was in the building that day to serve legal papers to a resident at One Rincon Hill.
Surveillance footage only captured Bejarano walking on the valet level of the garage, a floor above where the Mercedes was parked. There was no footage of Bejarano on the same floor as the blaze.
According to the public defender’s office, police and the building manager showed the valet a screenshot of Bejarano and asked him if that was the man he saw near the car.
The valet confirmed that was the man and police then publicly released the image.
Bejarano was arrested six days after the fire. Police then searched his home and his clothing sent to a crime lab to be tested for accelerant, but none was found and no other forensic evidence linked Bejarano to the crime, according to the public defender’s office.
The trial, which lasted for two weeks, led the jury to conclude that the identification of the suspect was done with haste.
On Friday, jurors found Bejarano not guilty of burglary and arson, according to the office of the public defender.
The office of the public defender said the valet should have been presented with a line-up, instead of a single photo with his boss present while surrounded by police officers.
Bejarano was originally charged with a second fire in the area, but a judge dismissed those charges due to lack of evidence, according to the public defender’s office.
Prosecutor Asks Jurors To Convict Three Men In Home Invasion Case
A prosecutor asked jurors Monday to convict three men of two counts of murder for the deaths of two people during a home invasion robbery in East Oakland last year.
Prosecutor Georgia Santos said 24-year-old Joseph Tabron, 56-year-old Joseph Castro and 50-year-old Joseph Silva are all legally responsible for the shooting deaths of Noe Garcia, 28, of Oakland, and 34-year-old Trisha Forde of Union City at a house at 10730 Apricot St., near Blenheim Street, at about 4 a.m. on March 2, 2013.
In her rebuttal closing argument in the lengthy case, Santos said the three defendants, plus two other men, went to the house to steal flat-screen televisions and a San Francisco Giants bobblehead and Forde and Garcia were killed because they were witnesses to the home invasion robbery.
Santos said the evidence in the trial indicates that Tabron killed Garcia but it’s unclear who killed Forde.
But she said all three defendants should be convicted of murder under the felony-murder rule, which holds that if a killing occurs during the commission or attempted commission of a felony the persons responsible for the felony can be found guilty of murder.
Silva gave a statement to Oakland police in September 2013 in which he accepted partial responsibility for the crime and implicated Tabron and Castro, who is Tabron’s uncle.
Silva retracted his statement when he testified during the trial for the three defendants.
His attorney, John McDougall, said Monday that he believes that Silva yielded to tough questioning by police officers.
But Santos told jurors that they should believe Silva’s confession to police because it’s supported by evidence in the case.
She said among the things that jurors should believe is Silva’s statement that Tabron shot Garcia.
But defense attorney William DuBois, who represents Tabron, told jurors in his closing argument on Thursday that he thinks the killings remain “unsolved” and his theory is that Garcia killed Forde out of jealousy and someone else responded by killing Garcia.
DuBois said Tabron, Castro and Silva “are guilty of a number of crimes,” including robbery, burglary, assault with a deadly weapon and grand theft, but not murder because he believes there was no connection between the home invasion robbery and the deaths of Garcia and Forde.
However, the three men are only charged with murder, not the other crimes, and will be set free if they aren’t convicted of that charge.
Jurors will begin deliberating this morning after they receive legal instructions from Alameda County Superior Court Judge Allan Hymer, who is presiding over the case.
20-Year Veteran Police Officer Put On Leave For Incendiary Twitter Messages About Protests On Police Conduct
The San Jose Police Department has placed an officer on administrative leave and a college has dropped him as a coach after he posted Twitter messages critical of protests about police conduct and saying he had a “God-given and law appointed right and duty to kill you.”
The department announced Monday that Officer Phillip White is on paid leave effective immediately as an investigation is conducted into his recent tweets, police spokeswoman Sgt. Heather Randol said in a statement.
San Jose police decided to consign White to leave from the force because it “recognizes the sensitive nature of this matter,” Randol said.
White is a 20-year veteran of the police department who had held a desk administrative assignment prior to his leave, Randol said in an email.
In Monday’s announcement, San Jose police Chief Larry Esquivel stated that “It is extremely important for the community to know the comments on Officer White’s private social media account do not reflect the thoughts or feelings of the men and women here at the San Jose Police Department.”
White, who could not be reached for comment, recently sent a series of messages on his personal Twitter that were captured by the website buzzfeed.com before the officer deleted them along with his Twitter account.
The messages appeared to have been directed toward ongoing protest demonstrations in the Bay Area and nationwide over unarmed black men killed this year by white police officers, specifically 18-year-old Michael Brown and 43-year-old Eric Garner.
In one of his tweets, White wrote, “Threaten me or my family and I will use my God-given and law appointed right and duty to kill you,” with hashtag “#Copslivesmatter” for another tweet.
In another tweet, he wrote, “By the way if anyone feels they can’t breathe or their lives matter I’ll be at the movies tonight, off duty, carrying my gun,” a reference to Garner saying “I can’t breathe” while being held in a chokehold.
Also on Monday, Menlo College in Atherton, where White worked as an assistant basketball coach, announced on the school’s Facebook page that he would no longer be associated with the institution.
The San Jose Police Officers’ Association, the union that represents police officers in negotiations for pay and benefits contracts with the city, released a statement strongly disapproving of White’s messages.
Students In At Least 4 High Schools Walk Out In Protest
At least four Oakland high schools staged a walkout over police killings of unarmed black men and rallied at the Fruitvale BART station Monday afternoon, organizers said.
Students at Oakland High School at 1023 MacArthur Blvd. walked out between 1 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. and students at Oakland Technical High School walked out at 2:30 p.m., according to Yvette Felarca, an organizer with the group By Any Means Necessary.
Francisco Martinez, 17, an 11th-grader at Oakland High said he participated in Monday’s walkout and as of about 4 p.m. was rallying at Fruitvale station, the place where Oscar Grant III was shot by a BART police officer in 2009.
He said the Oakland High group was joined by students from Oakland Tech, Skyline High School at 12250 Skyline Blvd. and MetWest High School at 314 E. 10th St.
Most of the students at Oakland High walked out with him, Martinez said. He said teachers said that after they left few students were still on campus, despite the objections of school staff.
The protests are Oakland’s latest over the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown by a Ferguson, Missouri, police officer in August and the chokehold death of Eric Garner by a New York City police officer.
The high-profile cases have sparked nationwide protests in the last month after grand juries declined to indict officers in either case.
The students are rallying “to fight for justice for Michael Brown and Eric Garner and to jail the killer cops and to demand accountability and end the Jim Crow justice system,” Felarca said.
Martinez had his own run-in with authority in May when he was knocked from his wheelchair and beaten by a school security guard who is now facing felony charges for the assault.
“We’re all fighting against police brutality, not only for Michael Brown, but for myself too,” Martinez said. “School should be a safe space where we can learn and not be brutalized by security.”
A neighbor in the Temescal neighborhood said she saw about 100 students walking in pairs down the sidewalk on 40th Street and chanting shortly after Oakland Tech’s walkout.
The Fruitvale and MacArthur BART stations were briefly closed Monday afternoon because of the protests, BART officials said.
17-Year-Old Boy Arrested In Connection With Sunday Shooting
A 17-year-old boy was arrested in connection with a shooting that killed one person and injured two others outside a Pittsburg home on Sunday night, a police captain said Monday.
The boy, a student at Pittsburg High School, was arrested in class without incident on Monday morning and is being held in Contra Costa County Juvenile Hall in Martinez, Pittsburg police Capt. Ron Raman said.
The shooting was reported shortly after 10 p.m. Sunday in the 200 block of Auburn Drive, where officers found the three victims suffering from gunshot wounds, Raman said.
The three victims were taken to hospitals. One was pronounced dead there, while the two others were in stable condition as of Monday morning, Raman said.
Police said the victims were at a home for a social gathering and were outside in the street when a suspect confronted them and opened fire.
Raman said the victims, all Pittsburg residents, appear to be the intended targets of the shooting.
Police said the shooting suspect was not a part of the social gathering.
The victim who died has been identified by the Contra Costa County coroner’s office as 19-year-old Anthony Alexiz Valdez.
Anyone with information about the case is asked to call Pittsburg police at (925) 427-7369.
25 Arrested In Civil Disobedience Action At Police Headquarters
Police arrested 25 protesters Monday morning who chained themselves to the Oakland Police Department headquarters and shut down nearby streets to call for the end of police killings of unarmed black people.
Many of those protesters chained themselves to four entrances to the police building at 455 Seventh St. starting around 7:30 a.m. Others linked their arms with PVC pipe to block Broadway at Seventh Street and a few others chained themselves to a flagpole.
A protester also climbed up the flagpole and raised a “black lives matter” flag there. The protester remained perched there for the rest of the morning.
Police worked from entrance to entrance cutting the chains and arresting the protesters. The glass door to one entrance was broken by police tools while officers cut the protesters free, police spokeswoman Officer Johnna Watson said.
As Oakland enters its fourth week of protests following a grand jury’s decision not to indict Ferguson, Missouri, police Officer Darren Wilson for shooting and killing black 18-year-old Michael Brown, organizer Cat Brooks said demonstrators had finally reached Oakland police headquarters after previous marches were blocked before they could reach it.
Monday’s action was organized by black leadership, including the groups BlackOut Collective, Onyx, Black Lives Matter and Black Brunch.
White and Asian protesters locked themselves to the doors in solidarity with the black leadership, according to organizers.
Other groups of demonstrators gathered on Broadway, reading the names of black men killed by police, chanting and singing. A cold drizzle didn’t prevent their numbers from surging throughout the morning. About 200 people gathered there.
As police used bolt cutters to break the chains on one entrance and arrest the demonstrators, a group gathered around them singing, “I can hear my brothers crying ‘I can’t breathe’; Now I’m in this struggle saying ‘I can’t leave’; Calling out the violence of the racist police; We ain’t gonna stop ’til our people are free.”
The protesters released a list of demands and many held it printed on signs Monday morning.
Officers in riot gear marched up Broadway at about 10:45 a.m., clearing the street of protesters and arresting those who refused to leave.
A large group of demonstrators remained on Broadway as police made arrests. The street was eventually reopened at 1:35 p.m., police said.
San Bruno Asks PUC To Order Release And Review Of 65,000 Emails Between PG&E And PUC
The city of San Bruno asked the California Public Utilities Commission on Monday to order PG&E Co. to release 65,000 email messages exchanged between PG&E and agency officials between 2010 and 2014.
Lawyers for the city filed a formal motion with the PUC in San Francisco seeking the messages in connection with three related proceedings in which the commission is investigating a fatal pipeline explosion in San Bruno in 2010.
The explosion of a PG&E high-pressure natural gas pipeline and subsequent fire on Sept. 9, 2010, killed eight people and injured 66 others.
San Bruno’s attorneys wrote that a review of the messages is needed to see whether there is any evidence of “improper influence or ex parte communications with the commission seeking an unfair advantage before the commission.”
Ex parte communications are private messages.
San Bruno claims that several dozen such emails released earlier this year show improper communications between PG&E executives and PUC officials on matters such as pending regulatory cases, the selection of administrative law judges and PG&E’s public relations strategy.
“After the illegal activity that has already been exposed, we are outraged by PG&E’s continued inaction,” San Bruno Mayor Jim Ruane said in a statement.
The city asked the PUC appoint a special master, at PG&E’s expense, to review the messages and determine which are normal business, which concern confidential matters exempt from disclosure and which are improper communications that should be revealed.
PG&E spokesman Keith Stephens said in a statement, “We’ve made it clear that we’re absolutely committed to doing the right thing and to complying with both the letter and the spirit of the law and PG&E’s own code of conduct at all times.
The disclosures began in July, when San Bruno obtained 41 messages between PG&E and PUC officials through a state Public Records Act lawsuit it had filed against the commission in San Francisco Superior Court.
On Sept. 15, PG&E announced that, in the wake of those initial disclosures, it had voluntarily searched through 65,000 messages sent to and from the commission since 2010.
PG&E then released a total of 24 messages, in two batches on Sept. 15 and Oct. 6, that it said may have violated commission rules.
San Bruno’s attorneys contended in Monday’s motion that allowing PG&E alone to determine which of the 65,000 emails should be disclosed “is akin to the fox guarding the henhouse.”
Weather Forecast For The San Francisco Bay Area
Rain and breezy conditions are expected again today in the Bay Area. Rain could be heavy at times. Highs are expected to be in the upper 50s with southeast winds of 10 to 20 mph becoming south at 20 to 30 mph this afternoon.
Rain and breezy conditions are expected tonight. There is a slight chance of thunderstorms in the evening. Showers are expected after midnight. Evening rains may be heavy at times. Lows will be in the lower 50s with southeast winds of 10 to 20 mph becoming west at 20 to 30 mph after midnight.
Cloudy conditions and a chance of showers are expected Wednesday. Highs will be in the upper 50s with west winds of 10 to 20 mph.