San Diego Police Review Board Set to Abort Probes

The Citizens’ Law Enforcement Review Board is moving to prematurely end its investigation of 22 death cases, citing a California state rule that bars punitive action against officers if an investigation isn’t completed within a year.

The group tasked with investigating in-custody deaths and complaints against San Diego county law enforcement is on the cusp of dismissing 22 death cases without any investigation at all, reports the Voice of San Diego. The Citizens’ Law Enforcement Review Board staff is recommending the dismissal of 22 investigations involving people who’ve died in county detention facilities or while being taken into custody. It appears to be the first time that the board, created in 1990, has failed to issue findings in a death case. The board is set to make the final decision on whether to dismiss the cases on Tuesday. To justify the dismissals, the board is citing a section of the California Public Safety Officers Bill of Rights, which declares that “no public safety officer shall be subjected to punitive action” if an investigation isn’t completed within a year.

Many of the cases being dismissed involve serious allegations brought to light by civil lawsuits and media reports, including that law enforcement officials ignored repeated suicide threats from mentally ill jail inmates and a juvenile detainee, and used excessive force during arrests. A number of experts said the rule being used to justify the dismissals shouldn’t apply to the San Diego board and similar groups in the state that exist to monitor law enforcement. Barbara Attard, who served as San Jose’s independent police auditor and now heads police practices consultancy Accountability Associates, described what CLERB’s doing as “a mess.” “To just wholesale close cases, I’ve never seen an agency do that,” she said.


San Diego Gunman Shoots 7 from Poolside Deck Chair

Peter Selis, 49, suddenly opened fire on 30 people gathered Sunday for a poolside birthday party at an upscale apartment complex. One woman was killed, and the gunman was shot and killed by police. One eyewitness said Selis was “relaxing and shooting people.”

Seven adults were shot, one woman fatally, when a gunman who witnesses said never left his poolside chair opened fire on a birthday party at a San Diego apartment complex Sunday, reports the city’s Union-Tribune. Police shot and killed the suspect, Peter Selis, 49, who lived in the upscale La Jolla Crossroads complex. A 2015 bankruptcy filing stated that Selis, a father and a car mechanic at a Ford dealership in San Diego, faced crushing debt. Authorities said the shooter, armed with a semi-automatic pistol, was white and all the victims were people of color — four black women, two black men and one Latino man.

Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman said investigators have not determined a motive. Authorities were unsure if Selis knew any of the victims. The shooting happened at about 6 p.m. as 30 people had gathered at the pool. Drew Phillips, who was there celebrating a friend’s birthday, said another party-goer had approached Selis and offered him food and drink. Selis declined and continued to sit quietly yards away. “Six or seven minutes later it’s just pow, pow, pow, pow — out of nowhere,” Phillips said. “…There was no indication that he was there to do evil.” Another witness, Shahrayar Jeff, described seeing Selis, in a baseball cap and glasses, “relaxing and shooting people.” Police arrived and fatally shot Selis when he pointed his gun at officers, said Zimmerman.


San Diego Revives Dormant Police Citizens Advisory Board

The City Council voted unanimously to revive the board, inactive since the 1990s. The board will focus on making residents aware of their rights and responsibilities when interacting with police. Its revival comes after multiple officer-involved shootings in San Diego and controversy over a delayed study of racial profiling by police.

Seeking stronger ties between residents and police officers in the wake of recent turbulence, San Diego will revive a long-dormant community policing board and urge its members to set lofty goals, reports the city’s Union-Tribune. The Citizens Advisory Board on Police/Community Relations will focus on the idea that policing San Diego is a shared responsibility that suffers without robust collaboration between residents and police. The board, which the City Council voted unanimously to revive on Tuesday, will focus on making residents aware of their rights and responsibilities when interacting with police. It may also recommend policies designed to make law enforcement more sensitive, effective and responsive.

The board’s role will be separate from the Citizens Review Board on Police Practices, which evaluates complaints from residents and reviews officer-involved shootings. Mayor Keven Faulconer said reviving the community policing board, dormant since the late 1990s, will help unify San Diego. Revival of the board comes after multiple officer-involved shootings in San Diego and controversy over a delayed San Diego State study of racial profiling by the police department.