Activists React to Thomas Settlement Announcement

‘Settlement should not end tragedy’; Police panel discussions planned for this week

Published : Monday, April 2, 2018 | 5:34 AM

More than three hundred demonstrators marched through the streets of Pasadena protesting Reginald Thomas’ death on the day he died.

More than three hundred demonstrators marched through the streets of Pasadena protesting Reginald Thomas’ death on the day he died, Sept. 30, 2016

Local activists who were outspoken shortly after Reginald Thomas died in Pasadena police custody in 2016 say the legal settlement reached between the City and Thomas’s girlfriend and children should not be the last chapter in the incident.

Meanwhile, two city political groups move forward this week with pre-planned forums which address the role of democracy and citizen participation in police governance and how the Pasadena Police Department conducts both internal investigations and external reviews of incidents like the Thomas one.

Reacting to the $1.5 million settlement, Black Lives Matter Pasadena activist Jasmine Abdullah Richards said Sunday that “the City of Pasadena can not keep putting an amount on the death of Black bodies. No amount of money will ever bring Reginald JR Thomas back.”

Richards led numerous vigils, protests and demonstrations in 2016 immediately following the death of Thomas, outside the Orange Grove Boulevard apartment complex where Thomas’ partner Shainie Lindsey and their children lived and where he died after a violent confrontation with officers.

Richards added that Black Lives Matter Pasadena is continuing to ask for the firing and legal prosecution of the officers involved in the Thomas incident.

“We won’t stop until those officers are off the streets of Pasadena,” said Richards.

Civil rights lawyer Dale Gronemeier said the settlement shouldn’t “end this tragedy.”

“The public is entitled to know as much as the law allows about what went wrong in the incident in which the police killed Mr. Thomas,” Gronemeier said.

Gronemeier has advocated for years in favor of greater police transparency and civilian oversight of the Pasadena Police department.

“As we learned from the OIR Group on the Kendrec McDade and LeRoy Barnes shootings, a carefully-written external review report can tell us much about what went wrong,” he said on Sunday.

Gronemeier pointed out that in the case of the Thomas death, the City has chosen not to use the OIR Group but rather the Police Foundation, with retired Sacramento Police Chief Rick Brazile as the external reviewer.

“It is imperative that Chief Brazile write a report that ensures maximum transparency so that the past will not repeat itself, and that it be done promptly,” Gronemeier said.

Two already-planned events for this week, one by the Pasadena League of Women Voters and one by the Pasadena Progressive Group, focus on policing topics which relate to the Thomas case.

The Pasadena League of Women Voters will sponsor “Democratic Policing: Citizen Participation in Policing Policy,” a League Day panel discussion featuring Barry Friedman, Founder of NYU Law School’s Policing Project, and author of Unwarranted: Policing without Permission; Max Huntsman, Inspector General, LA Sheriff Department; and Matt Johnson, Commissioner, LA Police Department.

The discussion will center on the questions, “Why don’t the most basic rules that apply to the rest of the government also govern the police?” and “How is policing policy actually made today?”

Each of the planned speakers have years of experience in investigations and reviews of police conduct. Both panel discussions were planned and confirmed before the settlement announcement this past weekend.

Reservations for the League of Women Voters event are closed. More information is available at 626-798-0965, from 10 a.m.–1 p.m., Monday–Friday, or e-mail office@lwv-pa.org.

Then on Friday the Pasadena Progressive Discussion Group has scheduled a panel discussion for this Friday morning, on the Pasadena Police Department’s internal investigations and reviews as well as external reviews on critical incidents.

The panel will feature Pasadena Police Commander Cheryl Moody, Pasadena Police Lt. William Grisafe, and Rob Miller, from the Office of Independent Review (“OIR”) Group.

As the group explained in its meeting announcement, “Most of us have limited understanding of the various investigations that occur in these critical incidents and what an internal or an external review means. Commander Moody and Lt. Grisafe have current responsibility for these internal processes for the Pasadena Police Department.”

Miller is one of two principals of the Southern California-based OIR Group, which conducted reviews of both the Kendric McDade and the Leroy Barnes shooting incidents. He and his partner Mike Gennaco have done external reviews, and similar work on more than 700 police shootings or other critical incidents.

The Pasadena Progressive Discussion Group meeting will take place Friday, April 6, at 9 a.m. in the back dining room at Du-Pars, 214 South Lake Avenue.

 

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