December 3, 2023

ANTIOCH — A number of neighborhood organizers are calling for the town’s appearing police chief and the president of its law enforcement officials’ union to step down amid revelations that they and different police supervisors signed off on the usage of drive by law enforcement officials who at the moment are charged with federal civil rights violations.

The newest calls for for the Antioch Police Division to scrub home comply with a Bay Space Information Group report that discovered appearing police Chief Joseph Vigil, Sgt. Rick Hoffman — the president of the Antioch Police Officers Affiliation — and others concluded again and again that the actions of the charged officers adopted division tips and deserved no self-discipline. The FBI, in a prison indictment of three officers, discovered that a number of the makes use of of drive violated departmental insurance policies — in addition to folks’s civil rights.

“They’re the issue — they signed off on all this. Now they’re watching the henhouse,” stated Frank Sterling Jr., an Antioch resident and a member of Reimagine Antioch, who personally sued the division and Hoffman over alleged police brutality.

Leaders of the ACCE Contra Costa Antioch Chapter stated they had been “disgusted and appalled” by the division’s leaders and referred to as for Vigil and Hoffman to instantly step down “for his or her makes an attempt to disclaim justice.” The group additionally referred to as for a evaluate of the taking pictures of Daniel Mackin, who was injured final month after 4 Antioch officers fired dozens of photographs on the armed 30-year-old man as he ran from them.

Francisco Torres, of the Reimagine Antioch coalition, stated he was “astonished” to study of the police supervisors’ actions. He referred to as for an investigation into Vigil and the division’s different supervisors — including that in the event that they weren’t discovered competent to steer the company, then they wanted to go.

The coalition is organizing a rally on Saturday afternoon exterior the Antioch Police Division calling for higher oversight of the division, in addition to the firing and decertification of officers implicated within the company’s racist texting scandal. Already, dozens of officers, together with Hoffman, are on go away in connection to that scandal.

“The neighborhood is scared, the neighborhood is doubtful — we don’t see issues shifting ahead,” Torres stated. He added that the town wanted to create a “critical” technique of police accountability and that to this point “it looks as if our neighborhood can’t rely on the Metropolis Council or metropolis supervisor to try this.”

The current investigation by this information group discovered that police supervisors tasked with reviewing officers’ use of drive persistently OK’d their actions.

In a single occasion, after Officer Eric Rombough fired a less-lethal projectile at a person who was backing towards officers together with his hand on his head, Hoffman concluded that the usage of “drive seems to be inside coverage,” information obtained by this information group present. The Aug. 31, 2021, incident was cited by the FBI as a part of the alleged “scheme” to violate Antioch residents’ civil rights that turned the topic of a federal indictment in opposition to Rombough and officers Morteza Amiri and Devon Wenger.

Vigil — then a lieutenant — signed off on Hoffman’s evaluate, writing that “the Use of Power noticed was according to company finest practices and coverage,” the information confirmed. One other lieutenant, Desmond Bittner, additionally agreed that “no motion” was vital.

Makes an attempt by this newspaper to succeed in Vigil had been unsuccessful. He was appointed appearing chief after within the wake of Chief Steven Ford’s abrupt resignation earlier this yr.

Performing Capt. Joe Vigil was named the appearing police chief in Antioch on Monday, Aug. 7, 2023. (Courtesy of Metropolis of Antioch) 

Michael Rains, an legal professional representing Hoffman, referred to as the sergeant an “excellent police officer” who was being “unfairly maligned.” He added that Hoffman gave a voluntary interview with federal investigators, who later indicted a number of Antioch officers on quite a few expenses.

“If the feds thought he was in on a scheme to violate folks’s constitutional rights, I believe he would have been charged criminally as one of many member of the conspiracy to violate folks’s civil rights. And he wasn’t,” Rains stated.

Mayor Lamar Thorpe — additionally a goal of racist texts despatched between Antioch officers — declined to say whether or not Vigil ought to stay appearing chief of the division. However he reiterated a need for Metropolis Council to be given the ability to rent and fireplace police chiefs, an obligation that presently rests with Antioch’s metropolis supervisor.

Over the summer time, the council did not cross a proposal that will have given council members the authority to rent, fireplace and supervise the police chief. The measure handed a primary studying however failed on the council’s second vote after Mayor Professional Tempore Tamisha Torres-Walker revised her stance on the difficulty and requested for that authority to finish after a yr or as quickly as a brand new everlasting metropolis supervisor was named.