From: East Bay Times
RICHMOND — An attorney for the three officers terminated Friday for their involvement with a former prostitute and victim of human trafficking, criticized the city of Richmond, saying that the conduct did not merit it.
All are part of the ongoing investigation that has implicated nearly 30 law enforcement personnel from seven agencies for illegal involvement with the woman, who used the alias Celeste Guap. At least some of the contact began when the woman, now 19, was a minor. A fourth officer was previously placed on administrative leave.
A total of four officers have been terminated by the department so far. Although the city declined to identify the officers, the woman previously said that after she turned 18 she had sexual contact with Lt. Andre Hill, Sgt. Armando Moreno, Officer Terrance Jackson, Officer Mike Rood and school resource Officer Jerred Tong, who was previously placed on administrative leave.
“The city may feel that morally the officers should not have been involved with her, but it was not the type of conduct that should result in officers getting fired, and the law doesn’t support it,” said Michael Rains of Rains Lucia Stern, a law firm representing all 11 Richmond Police Department officers being investigated. This newspaper is not naming the woman because she is a victim of sex trafficking.
The officers were notified of the department’s decision to terminate their employment Friday and were escorted out of the building. As of Monday, none had received notices, although that is expected to happen by Tuesday at the latest. The disciplinary action follows a lengthy investigation by the Police Department’s Office of Professional Accountability, led by a civilian, which is different from the way most law enforcement agencies handle internal misconduct.
Rains said that none of the officers initiated contact with the woman and called all activity consensual.
“She was always the one who was showing up as a friend on Facebook, saying that she wants to get into police work… they start up conversations with her, then the next thing they know she’s sending racy pictures of herself. It’s unfortunate that these guys didn’t tell her to get lost, but that is not reason for dismissal of officers who have been doing commendable work for the city,” Rains said.
In addition to the four sworn members of the department who face termination, two others who were being investigated have left the department for unrelated reasons. Four face disciplinary action ranging from demotion to letters of reprimand.
Richmond City Manager Bill Lindsay, who made the decision to terminate the officers, said he did so after receiving recommendations from the Police Department.
“I think that the conduct that was uncovered through the investigation was not even close to living up to the trust placed in them as police officers,” Lindsay said Monday.
All officers who have been fired have 10 days from when they receive notice to request a hearing of their case. If the city still rules in favor of their dismissal, they also have the right to request binding arbitration, a protection awarded to them under the Police Officers’ Bill of Rights.
The Contra Costa District Attorney’s Office said it would hold a news conference later this week with an update on the case.
John Burris, who is representing the woman, said the decision to terminate the officers is the right course of action.
“The message should be illegal conduct by officers will not be tolerated and that there is no double standard,” Burris said.
Five Oakland police officers are also being investigated for alleged misconduct with the same woman and have been put on leave. On Monday, Sgt. Leroy Johnson, who recently retired from the Oakland Police Department, appeared in Alameda County Superior Court on charges that he knew the woman was a victim of human trafficking, but did not report it, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.