One day back in August, the VOSD staff was enjoying a nice little staff day out at the beach. Toward the end of the outing, as most folks headed to an OB bar, Liam Dillon got a call he’d been waiting on, and he and I raced back to the office.
The call was a tip that an explosive declaration had been filed in the case of a San Diego police officer shooting an unarmed man in the Midway district. In it, someone who had seen private surveillance footage of the shooting says the officer’s actions were hasty, “unprovoked” and “shocking.”
Back in the office, parsing a story about a man’s lonely death, I suddenly felt ridiculous in my cut-off jeans and flip-flops. What can you do.
The declaration about what happened on that video was important because the footage is being held under a court order. We’ve joined with other local media outlets in town to overturn that order in court. We have a hearing on the issue this Tuesday. We’re not certain when a decision might come.
Unlike the recent case in Chicago – in which police were ordered to reveal footage of officers shooting a teenager to death – this is not us asking police or any other government agency to give something up. We’re not talking about police body camera footage (the officer forgot to turn his on). We’re not talking about dashcam footage from a police cruiser. This is a video from a private party. The family of the man who was killed wants to be able to make it public. That makes this an important speech issue, regardless of what the video ultimately reveals – if anyone ever gets to see it, that is.
San Diego Police are fighting in court to keep the video secret. Their main argument for keeping the video sealed is that its release would affect the officer’s ability to get a fair trial. The problem with that: There will be no trial. District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis has already said she won’t file any criminal charges against him.
She’s seen the video. She assured the public in a press conference that it proves the officer acted appropriately.
On this and so many other things, San Diego law enforcement’s plea to the public is: Just trust us. And on this and other things, we’d rather just see for ourselves.
What VOSD Learned This Week
What a week for news about local school districts.
The biggest: The district attorney’s office served a warrant on San Diego Unified seeking information on embattled school board trustee Marne Foster. NBC San Diego confirmed a criminal investigation has been opened regarding Foster, but still no word on what specifically is being probed.
That helps explain why the district has seemingly made no progress in its own investigation into some of the allegations against Foster.
Many of the complaints against Foster stem from the charge that she abused her power as a trustee.
Elsewhere in the district, Mario Koran found that a charter school board member is facing complaints – including that the woman axed three principals in a year and a half.
Over in Poway, Superintendent John Collins looks to be on his way out. In the North County Report, Ruarri Serpa details some more tensions flaring at districts across the county.
That’s all pretty heavy stuff. So might I recommend ending on this hysterical roundup of San Diego Unified’s spectacularly bad visual aids.
The city and state regulators are locked in a fight over who’s to blame for the fact that San Diego is not at all prepared for El Niño.
In other state news, the Sacramento Report has more on Rocky Chavez’s outspoken week, Ben Hueso’s goatee crossing the border and Joel Anderson confirming that yes, he really is running for county supervisor.
Developers in Solana Beach are contending with neighbors who want to protect their views – not of the ocean, but of trees and other buildings.
Developers in San Diego are contending with not enough space and too many regulations, and are heading to Tijuana as a result in the first installment of our new Border Report.
Developers downtown are contending with people wary of their new exhibit that’s billed as an arts installation but has a curious amount of space dedicated to their own efforts.
The federal department that doles out money for homeless programs favors an approach called “housing first” – and many San Diego nonprofits are scrambling to create new programs to keep that sweet cash rolling in.
What I’m Reading
A sobering piece in the most literal sense: Scott Weiland’s ex-wife pleads that we don’t glorify his death. (Rolling Stone)
This is a year old, but wonderfully relevant: How to be a ladyperson during the holidays. (I Miss You When I Blink)
A couple weeks back I included in this section a fantastic Guardian investigation on fatal police shootings in Kern County. The paper hasn’t let up – check out the rest of the series, which includes a piece on Kern County sheriff’s deputies’ brutal tactics and law enforcement officers’ history of paying off victims who were sexually abused by officers.
Perhaps you’ve seen “Sunshine Cleaning,” an indie comedy about sisters who start a business cleaning up gruesome crime scenes. This story follows the people who do that in real life, and it’s less jaunty and more heartbreaking and disgusting. But a great read. (MinnPost)
The enduring superiority of “Bring it On.” (Vice)
An oral history of “The League.” (ESPN)
Line of the Week
“Democracy isn’t people arguing about how best to vote between foreordained options. Democracy is people running for office. You are a person.” – From a delightfully unsubtle reminder from Gawker that you – yes, you! – should run for office.