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4/7/20 City Council Meeting (at 2:58:40 and 3:03:20)

Press Release & Conferences

Updated: Oct 15

October 14, 2020 Hello Mayor Haskew and City Council Members, Mr. Buckshi, Ms. Burkhart, and Acting Chief Hill,


We are writing to express our concern regarding two items: first, the lack of response to our email of October 5 about the City’s response to the settlement with the Hall family https://www.justiceformileshall.org/post/fosath-response-letter-to-walnut-creek-city-government and second, the October 12 posting to the Walnut Creek Police Department Facebook page.


We are sure that by now all of you have read the Facebook posting and responses. In fact, some of you responded yourselves.  Not only does the posting promote divisiveness, but the message itself and reactions to it prompt numerous questions, including:


What is the culture within the Police Department that makes a member of that department comfortable posting a message and replies to it that disparage people who question or criticize law enforcement (1), given that the department’s stated values include treating “everyone with impartiality, courtesy and dignity while maintaining our loyalty to the community, our department and our profession”(2)?


Why as a matter of principle is it acceptable for City employees or elected officials to post their personal reactions to content on a City department’s social media channel? Responses by city employees to members of the public include:

  • “Sorry if community support offends you. You can unfollow our page anytime.”

  • “We’re good, but thanks.” (in reply to a question about serving the whole community rather than deliberately creating division through the original post)  

What lack of training, understanding and/or sense of accountability leads to a posting that is out of compliance with the City’s social media policy (3) and police policy manual (4) which include the following passages:

  • “This policy applies to City of Walnut Creek elected and appointed officials, employees, volunteers, contractors and any other representatives acting on behalf of the City or any of its Departments and Divisions.” (3)

  • “Any employee authorized to post items on any of the City’s social media sites shall not express his or her own personal views or concerns through such postings. Postings on any of the City’s social media sites by an authorized City employee shall only reflect the views and concerns of the City.” (3)

  • “The City will utilize social media to engage, build relationships with, and provide useful information to the City’s residents, partners, and stakeholders.” (3)

  • “Causes for Discipline: Discourteous, disrespectful or discriminatory treatment of any member of the public or any member of this department or the City.” (4)

We are aware that the WCPD has posted an update taking responsibility for the misstep. While we appreciate this public acknowledgement, we are concerned about the continuing pattern of public communication from both the City and its Police Department. The pattern seems indicative of an organization with cultural issues not only around how it views its citizens who live with mental health conditions, but also how it views the public’s right to ask for change.


As you know, Friends of Scott, Alexis and Taun Hall (FOSATH) is committed to collaborating with the City to promote the healing required in the aftermath of the June 2, 2019 killing of Miles Hall. We are frustrated by City communications that continue to inflame and divide. 


We request a meeting with you at your earliest convenience to discuss next steps. We are looking forward to your response.


Respectfully,

FOSATH - Friends of Scott, Alexis, and Taun Hall

________________________________________________________


References

  1. WCPD Facebook screenshots:





2. City of Walnut Creek Police Department Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/walnutcreekpd

3. City of Walnut Creek, Social Media Policy #202, issued 1/3/2012: https://www.walnut-creek.org/home/showdocument?id=2412

4. City of Walnut Creek, Police Policy Manual, Standard of Conduct Policy 324.5.9

10-05-2020

Dear Walnut Creek Mayor Haskew; Mayor Pro Tem Wilk; City Council Members Francois, Silva, and Wedel; City Manager Dan Buckshi; Communications Manager Betsy Burkhart; and Acting Police Chief Jay Hill:

On June 2, 2019, Miles Hall was killed by Walnut Creek police, less than a block from his home while in the midst of a mental health crisis. Since his death, your City Council meetings have been filled by hundreds of shocked, horrified, and grieving members of your Walnut Creek community, the faith community, families living with mental health challenges, community members of color, and people from all over the Bay Area - all asking for justice for Miles Hall and for healing for the community. Their message to you has been crystal clear: Miles Hall was a victim, not a criminal.


The East Bay Times said on September 18, 2020: “Police said Hall ran at officers with a crowbar and had earlier threatened his own relatives. But video released by police seems to show that Hall was not running directly at police and was not threatening them with the metal bar....(and) the video indicates the fatal shooting could and should have been avoided.” Because the responding officers were familiar with Miles’s history and had full knowledge he was experiencing a mental health crisis, your officers should have approached him with compassion and a desire to help him.


In the year and more since Miles’ death, we have been stunned by your lack of any acknowledgement that Walnut Creek could make changes to prevent a similar tragedy. We assumed your unresponsiveness was tied to what you felt was your obligation to remain silent until the civil suit was resolved; we were looking forward to the end of the suit as an opportunity for you to lead our community in healing and making needed change. Your recent response statements to the September 18th settlement belied our assumptions.


In your response, you chose to continue your skewed narrative which criminalizes Miles and stigmatizes those with mental illness as being violent. You released this statement without notifying or communicating to the Hall family, and before they could address the community in their own way. Your unsympathetic posturing leaves other families in Walnut Creek who have loved ones living with a mental illness in fear of using law enforcement when it may be needed. This hesitation is especially true for BIPOC residents of Walnut Creek. What purpose did your release serve other than a negative one?

True leaders would have seized the opportunity for a coming together of the City and the community to address the trauma of Miles' death and to establish a basis for trust moving forward. Not only was this a teachable moment for mental illness, it was an opportunity to heal.

We will continue to put our best efforts into bringing positive change to the community to prevent another tragedy.


We hope that you have the courage to join us.


Friends of Scott Alexis and Taun Hall (FOSATH)

https://www.justiceformileshall.org/

In community with:

Gigi R. Crowder, Executive Director

NAMI Contra Costa County

https://namicontracosta.org/


Joanne Scott & Elsie Mills

Showing Up For Racial Justice (SURJ) Contra Costa County

https://www.facebook.com/SURJCCC

Women's March Contra Costa WomensMarchContraCosta.org

Diablo Valley Democratic Club Board dvdems.org


Indivisible Central Contra Costa County

https://www.facebook.com/indivisible4c/


Indivisible ReSisters Walnut Creek www.facebook.com/groups/indivisibleresisterswc/

Defund Concord PD DefundConcordPD.org


San Ramon Valley Democratic Club Board

https://srvdems.org

Concord Communities Alliance https://ccaconcord.org/

Patty Mitchell Steering Committee - Larkey Park Neighbors United https://www.larkeyparkneighborsunited.com/


Together We Will Contra Costa

https://www.facebook.com/TogetherWeWillContraCosta


Los Lomas Reform NOW

https://laslomasreform.wixsite.com/justice


Dan Harrington-owner

On Track Learning

www.OnTrackLearning.net


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:


Contact: John Burris - cell (510) 928-5392 burris@lmi.net

Burris Law Media Contact: Lee Houskeeper - cell (415) 654-9141 newsservice@aol.com Hall Family Media Contact: Patty Mitchell - cell (408) 429-4032 pm@pattymitchell.com WHAT: Civil Rights Attorney John Burris, Scott & Taun Hall, Parents of Miles Hall To Discuss Their Decision To Settle Lawsuit Against The City of Walnut Creek In Fatal Police Shooting

WHEN:  11 AM, MONDAY, September 21, 2020

WHERE: Home of Taun and Scott Hall

Press Conference will be available on Facebook Live:

https://www.facebook.com/johnburrislaw/ or

https://www.facebook.com/john.l.burris

“The lawsuit was never about money. No amount of money can bring our son back or heal the wounds we will live with for the remainder of our lives.  Our goal has always been, and will continue to be, for the city of Walnut Creek and it’s police department to recognize the fact that our son needed help that awful day. Instead of getting help, he was viewed as a criminal, and was killed as he tried to run home”. - Scott & Taun Hall “Walnut Creek Police officers did everything wrong by immediately creating a military-style skirmish line formation (4 officers side by side with guns drawn), yelling and screaming at a frightened and mentally impaired young man who was in obvious crisis.”  - Civil Rights Attorney John Burris

Walnut Creek CA---The Law Offices of John Burris will hold a press conference on Monday, September 21, 11:00 a.m. at the home of Miles Hall and his family, to allow the parents of Miles Hall to speak about last Friday's $4 Million Dollar settlement of their civil claim against the City of Walnut Creek for the wrongful death of Mr. Hall and the violation of Mr. Hall’s rights under Federal and State Law. The city of Walnut Creek, CA through their representatives agreed to pay the family of Miles Hall $4 Million to settle their Federal Civil Rights lawsuit. The lawsuit, filed in 2019, alleged that the City of Walnut Creek, through their police officers, violated Miles and his parents' civil rights by using excessive force in shooting him dead when he was operating under a mental crisis. All parties agreed to the settlement. John Burris, speaking on behalf of the family who were out of town over the weekend, but who will speak to the media on Monday morning, said “no amount of money will bring justice for the loss of their beloved son, Miles. However, this settlement will bring closure to this aspect of the legal proceedings.” Burris says this case raised important questions regarding how the police perceive threats leading to their use of force when engaging with people experiencing a mental health crisis, especially if that person is black or brown. Much like George Floyd focused the nation on the use of choke holds and racial disparity in policing, the case of Miles Hall, which happened in June of 2019, brought home the challenges with protecting those with mental impairments when the police are called. The case of Daniel Prude, a black man, who was killed in March of 2020 after being physically restrained by Rochester, New York police officers after his brother called to say Daniel had been suffering from a mental health episode, is further evidence that there are urgent life and death issues at the intersection of race, policing, and mental health. With Miles Hall in Walnut Creek we have a case where the family worked with the police to ensure that their son, who had an ongoing mental illness, would be protected from harm by the police; but yet when confronted, the police instead of de-escalating the situation, used deadly force. The family has been traumatized because what happened to their son was the very thing they were trying to prevent, another African American young man killed by the police. As a silver lining, a strong community of residents and supporters in and around Walnut Creek deserves much credit for their willingness to stand up and support the Hall family for the past year plus. The Friends of Scott, Alexis, and Taun Hall (FOSATH) have continued to press the City of Walnut Creek to redirect police resources away from criminal enforcement to social services and medical treatments.  Unfortunately, Burris says, much more needs to be done to prevent another tragedy like the family of Miles Hall went through.  Link to the Hall family's statement.


PDF for this press release

09.21.20 Media Advisory John Burris PR
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© 2020 by Justice for Miles Hall, Walnut Creek