From: Marin Independent Journal
By Nels Johnson 3/9/15
An ex-sheriff’s deputy fired after emptying his semiautomatic at a Marin City motorist sought to get his job back Monday as a panel of county officials met behind closed doors to weigh the controversial case.
In the first of five private sessions scheduled by the county Personnel Commission, officials convened to consider the appeal of former deputy Evan Kubota, a six-year veteran fired after a July 7, 2013, incident in which Kubota repeatedly fired at an ex-felon suspected of driving with a suspended license.
Officials and attorneys provided little information, most joining in a chorus of “no comment” responses before the hearing was opened, the meeting closed and an Independent Journal reporter ousted. In line with a commission secrecy policy, Kubota is not listed by name on the agenda, which instead refers to his termination appeal as “TA #15-01.”
Present for the session were Kubota and his attorney, Julia Fox, who specializes in police personnel issues; Sheriff Robert Doyle and Undersheriff Mike Ridgway; personnel director Joanne Peterson and several staffers; and a delegation of county lawyers including Assistant County Counsel Jack Govi and deputy counsels Renee Giacomini Brewer and David Zaltsman.
The hearing at Marin Center was delayed for several minutes as Brewer and Fox engaged outside in a spirited argument about procedural and paperwork issues.
Most declined to make any comment. “This personnel commission hearing is part of the process,” Doyle said.
Absent from the session was Commissioner William Stephens, a former county judge who recused himself because “he was privy to information,” one commissioner said.
The Marin City motorist, Chaka Ali Grayson, who turned 46 on Monday, has filed a $10 million lawsuit against the county, saying he suffered nerve damage and permanent injuries after he was hit by three bullets in the gunfire from Kubota.
Grayson’s public defender, Michael Coffino, said in an email that “the deputy fired his gun 16 separate times at Mr. Grayson, striking him three times in the upper body with hollow-point bullets.”
Coffino said 13 rounds entered the side and rear of Kubota’s vehicle, or went into the surrounding area near kids, pedestrians and passing cars.
“The deputy emptied his semiautomatic weapon at a man suspected of driving with a suspended license,” Coffino said. “No witness who saw the shooting said that the officer was ever in the vehicle’s path of travel. Several people saw him walking behind the fleeing car and firing into the back window.”
Although cleared by Novato police investigators, Kubota was fired by Doyle for violating the department’s use of force policy, which one insider described as indicating deputies in similar situations “holster up” after two or three shots — and get out of the way of oncoming traffic.
The incident occurred when Kubota stopped Grayson in Marin City on suspicion of driving with a suspended license. The sheriff’s department initially reported that Grayson ducked inside the car, refused to show his hands and then started to drive at Kubota.
Kubota, a combat veteran who served in Iraq, fired his gun because he thought his life was in danger, sheriff’s officials said at the time.
After treatment at Marin General Hospital, Grayson was arrested on suspicion of assaulting the deputy with his car. Novato police investigators called in for an independent probe of the incident said prosecutors should charge Grayson with assault with a deadly weapon but recommended no charges against Kubota.
Prosecutors declined to file the assault charge, instead pressing four misdemeanors against Grayson, including resisting police. Days before the case was scheduled to go to trial Oct. 20, District Attorney Ed Berberian bailed out, dropping the charges after “additional information came to our attention.” He declined to comment on what that information was.
The dismissal of all charges came on the same day a judge was scheduled to rule on whether to give defense attorneys access to an internal investigation of Kubota. He was fired on Aug. 27.