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    The state of policing in the IE: Killing teenagers, mismanaging jails and torturing innocent people
    • May 30, 2024

    Policing in the Inland Empire has been generating a lot of headlines for all the wrong reasons in recent months.

    In April, after 18 months of stonewalling, the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department finally released footage of the 2022 killing of 15-year-old Savannah Graziano. Graziano was gunned down as she followed orders from a deputy to approach him in broad daylight.

    Thanks to the work of independent journalist Joey Scott and the First Amendment Coalition, we know now that Sheriff Shannon Dicus was plainly wrong when he said at the time of the killing, “Evidence suggests that Savannah Graziano was a participant in shooting at our deputies.”

    Riverside County, meanwhile, made national news a couple of weeks back following  a New York Times investigation into the 2020 killing of Christopher Zumwalt in the county’s jail system.

    “Video from inside a Southern California jail shows a violent confrontation in October 2020 in which 10 sheriff’s deputies burst into the cell of a man who was having delusions and resisting medical care, restrained him and repeatedly shocked him, leading to his death days later,” the Times reported.

    The resulting lawsuit resulted in a $7.5 million settlement agreed to this past December by the county.

    Sheriff Chad Bianco defended those responsible. It’s no wonder his sheriff’s department continues to accrue lawsuits related to jail deaths.

    Most recent is the reporting by the Southern California News Group’s Tony Saavedra on the Fontana police department’s bizarre psychological torture of Thomas Perez Jr., who was forced into giving a false confession that he had killed his father. His father was in fact alive.

    A U.S. district judge had ruled that “a reasonable juror could conclude that the detectives inflicted unconstitutional psychological torture on Perez,” who received a $900,000 settlement.

    In a just society, those responsible for these gross injustices would be held directly liable for what they have done. Abusive officers would be fired with no great difficulty. And stories like those here would be a rarity, not a norm.

    Alas, we are far from that. The pressure must be kept on law enforcement to improve. We will all lose if they don’t.

    ​ Orange County Register