From: East Bay Times
By Thomas Peele 4/12/16
KENSINGTON — A police sergeant involved in the controversial traffic stop last year of a town board member failed to properly supervise the incident but did not harass or stalk the official, as she claimed, an internal affairs investigation found.
The probe upheld three allegations against Sgt. Keith Barrow but dropped two others, including the most serious claims that he harassed board member Vanessa Cordova during an Oct. 7 traffic stop outside the Kensington town limits. A second officer, Manny Ramos, remains under investigation in the matter.
The findings, released Tuesday, did little to stop the sniping among officials in the unincorporated East Bay hillside town: Barrow’s attorney blasted Cordova’s behavior as “abusive” and “paranoid,” while the board member shot back, calling the police department a “cesspool of corruption.”
Interim Police Chief Kevin Hart is the subject of a separate investigation after residents claimed he revealed details about the traffic stop and made disparaging comments about Cordova at a private gathering.
It was unclear Tuesday what procedures Barrow failed to supervise. Hart said he could not discuss the matter. But Barrow’s lawyer Justin Buffington said they were not related to a specific policy, and that Barrow should have known Cordova would “spin out of control” over the incident.
The officers pulled over Cordova outside of the town limits in Berkeley and ticketed her for not having a front license plate.
In a blistering statement issued Tuesday, Buffington said that Cordova made “crazy and specious claims” about the stop and said she has exhibited “a pattern of erratic, verbally abusive and paranoid behavior, punctuated with distortions, exaggerations, and plain lies.”
An investigator for the Richmond Police, whom Hart asked to investigate the matter, found Barrow “had no demonstrable animus towards Ms. Cordova.”
Cordova quickly responded, calling the small East Bay town’s police department “a cesspool of corruption. When police officers investigate their own, the only limitation is their imagination.”
She also ripped into Barrow, whose gun was stolen in 2014 from a hotel room by a Reno prostitute. Police there recovered the gun after the woman’s pimp shot himself in the leg with it the next day. Barrow ultimately served a short suspension, but an audit of the department’s investigation in that case found it was not done to professional standards.
“Barrow lost possession of his service weapon across state lines resulting in a man being shot. He associates with prostitutes,” she wrote in an email, adding that “when it comes to character, credibility and competence, Barrow doesn’t have a leg to stand on.”
The investigation into Barrow’s role in the traffic stop found he was in violation of department policy for riding in a police car while off duty without permission and taking part in the traffic stop while not in uniform or appropriate apparel. Buffington dismissed the findings as minor offenses.
“Every single officer interviewed,” Buffington said, “advised that it was commonplace for off-duty officers to ride along with on-duty officers to get lunch or coffee.”