Oxnard Police Dept. holds press conference on Limon killing

"Oxnard Community Safety and Anti-Violence Day" to be proclaimed tonight as October 13

By George Miller

Alphonso Limon and his brother were innocently walking home on the night of Oct. 13. 2012. As fate would have it, they walked right into an attack by gang members on a group of Oxnard Police. Accounts differ on exactly what went down, but the brother escaped, however Alfonso ended up dead, a victim of officers who mistakenly thought he was one of the attackers. A lengthy investigation and lawsuit have both been completed, allowing law enforcement and legal entities to now discuss things more freely. The fact that the Limon family was awarded $6.7 million and other considerations suggests that the police didn’t do everything right.  At today’s press conference, which was done as part of the lawsuit settlement, Oxnard PD Chief Jeri Williams expressed her profound regrets, resolved to help ensure such things do not happen again and committed to carrying out all the terms of the agreement to make the community safer and help heal the divisions that have arisen. This was reinforced by statements by Mayor Tim Flynn and City Manager Greg Nyhoff.

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Limon family members take their seats before Police Dept. 10-7-14 press conference. Local, LA media, as well as U.S. DOJ, DA and city officials were also present. (Photo: Citizensjournal.us)

 

Chief Jeri Williams

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Oxnard Police Chief Jeri Williams at 10-7-14 press conference (Photo: Citizensjournal.us)

The Chief’s prepared remarks (actual words were very close) ….

There are no words that can fully express how the events of October 13, 2012, have impacted the Limon family, who lost both a son and brother in Alfonso, Jr.

Keeping this in mind, I will read a joint statement that was agreed upon between the City of Oxnard and the Limon family.

We recognize that the October 13, 2012 incident was very tragic in many ways.

 Alfonso Limon, Jr. was an innocent bystander who was tragically killed.  The Limon family lost a beloved son and brother. The lives of many other persons, including the Oxnard community, have been forever changed.

 The City of Oxnard and the Limon family were able to come together and settle the lawsuit that was filed.

 We realize that nothing can be done that will bring back Alfonso’s life.

 However, we are able to take steps to ensure that his memory will never be forgotten.

 We will be erecting a memorial dedicated to his memory at the scene of the incident.

 The City will be issuing a proclamation declaring October 13th to be “Community Safety and Anti-Violence Day” in his honor.

 We are committed to learning from this incident and invite any community group who wishes to join us in a discussion as to how the community and the Oxnard Police Department can work together.

 We are committed to a healing process through open and effective dialogue.

 It is our hope that by all of us working together in Alfonso Limon’s Jr.’s memory we will achieve that goal.”

This concludes the joint statement, but there’s more that I’d like to share. A strong community needs a strong police department. A strong police department needs the support of its community

We are in this together. This tragedy was felt by the entire community, and provoked strong feelings.  I have seen that it has divided portions of our community, and has created a sense of distrust for some.

The officers who were involved in this incident are dedicated public servants. They, too, have been profoundly affected. These officers are husbands and wives, sons and daughters, mothers and fathers who signed on for a tough job.  They were faced with a terrible set of circumstances that forced them to make split-second decisions. The use of deadly force is the most serious act a police officer can take.  It is the last thing an officer wants to experience during his or her career.

The Oxnard Police Department is committed to learning from this tragedy.

I’d like to briefly touch upon some of the steps that we have taken to show this:

  • Based upon my recommendation, the City contracted with the Office of Independent Review to provide us with an impartial assessment of our response to the incident.
  • We have reached out to a number of other agencies, including the F.B.I., the Department of Justice, and the California Attorney General’s Office.
  • Beginning the night of the incident, our department began a comprehensive administrative review. This review includes an assessment of the tactics that were used, as well as existing training, policies, and practices.
  • For the past ten years, we have provided realistic training to our officers on decision-making under stressful conditions. We will incorporate the lessons learned from this incident into our reality-based training.

In January of 2013, our department began mandating the use of audio recording devices on all enforcement contacts. We were the first law enforcement agency in Ventura County and one of the few in the state of California to mandate the use of digital recorders for their officers.

I also support the use of body-worn cameras. I believe these are useful tools that are mutually beneficial to both the community and our officers. We have recently conducted a field test of three different body camera systems. We will soon present our findings to our officers and provide a recommendation to the city manager.

In closing, we look forward to working with our community toward healing and continuing to build on our efforts for a safer and stronger city.

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Although she handled the press statement very well, before the conference Chief Williams told media representatives present that they already knew how to spell her name, which “is a four letter word,” an allusion to the demonization of the Chief by some actors. So it has taken its toll.

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Media representatives lined two walls of the Oxnard PD conference room. (Photo: Citizensjournal.us)

 

Mayor Tim Flynn

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Oxnard Mayor Tim Flynn making his remarks at the Police Dept. Limon press conference- 10-7-14 (Photo: Citizensjournal.us)

The Mayor expressed official and personal regrets, wants the City to do right for the Limon Family, Police Department and greater Oxnard Community.  He supports Williams’ police body camera initiative, which he believes will protect both the community and police officers.

At tonight’s City Council meeting, Mayor Flynn will proclaim October 13th to be “Community Safety and Anti-Violence Day.”

 

City Manager Greg Nyhoff

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Oxnard City Manager Greg Nyhoff speaking at 10-7-14 press conference. (Photo: Citizensjournal.us)

Mr. Nyhoff’s prepared remarks….

Today the City will proclaim October 13th as Community Safety and Anti-Violence Day in honor of Alfonso Limon, Jr.  A member of our community that will never be forgotten.

As a father and a parent I offer my public condolences to the Limon Family.

As the City Manager I am an advocate for all that the City does to build trust and to educate and empower our community about crime and violence.

It is important to remember that the police department is a part of our community.

In my role as CM I am here to support the police chief in obtaining the necessary tools and equipment to make not only our officers safe but our community safer.

 

 Q & A session

The formal remarks from the three officials ran about 19 minutes, followed by a bit shorter Q & A session. L.A. and local media were present, asking questions aggressively. Q &A content following is paraphrased, not exact (we’ll try to get video to verify this). Answers were by Chief Jeri Williams ….

Q: How soon will police body cameras be in operation?

A: We’re testing/evaluating multiple offerings now. Estimated one year to complete evaluation, get approval, order and implement.

Q: Ventura and other cities trying out cameras too?

A: I’m a member of National Assoc. of Police Officers, involved in and staying abreast of developments.

Q: Would camera have helped in the Limon incident?

A. Because of unique circumstances, it probably wouldn’t have affected the outcome, but would have provided useful evidence.

Q: What was done with the officers involved in the shooting?

A. All but one are back on active duty, one took a service retirement. Where appropriate, additional training was administered.

Q: Where any charges brought?

A: The DA’s report does not implicate any officers in criminal activity. These were highly unusual circumstances- suspects began shooting at our officers.

Q: What were the terms of the lawsuit settlement. these were already released, can’t remember exactly but:

– Press conference and joint statement to be announced (today)

– A memorial for Alfonso Limon

– Review use of police body cameras

– Sheriff/DA recommendations for changes/action

– (and the $6.7MM settlement)

Q: How to hold people accountable for this and another incident:

A: Can only address this incident today, which had no criminal wrongdoing findings. Instill discipline, training, education, as required. OPD officers are already highly trained, disciplined, accountable. But we can improve.

Q: What were lessons learned from Todo Pueblo (activist group)  10/13/13 march. (Questioner related it to Ferguson handling of protesters)

A: Oxnard is not Fergusen. Other marches here did not have police coverage in such force. We need to keep public safe, while supporting constitutional rights of 1st Amendment/free speech. The protesters cannot be allowed to create unsafe conditions, block traffic, break the law.

Q: What about getting a police oversight board?

A.There has been much talk about tat not just since this incident, but in the 3 1/2 years I’ve been here and well before that, from what I’ve heard.. We invite a conversation/engagement on matters of concern to the community, discussing  this collectively. City Council and the community are the true police oversight board.

Q: What about putting cameras in patrol cars?

A: We believe body cameras are a better solution.

Q: Will the memorial plaque be in la Colonia? What about the Office of Independent Review study and report?

A: Yes. We want to have it installed by. Mr. Limon’s birthday. Vendor has design, but is working on modifications ordered by the family.  The report is still in the works, to next be submitted for comments, before being finalized. Michael Donaco is writing it. It will review policies, procedures, practices. It is to help ensure accountability, responsibility, and needed improvements.  Company site is OIR.org. They have done work for cities such as Fullerton, CA.

 

Activist group Todo Poder al Pueblo was waiting outside police headquarters for news media with signs and soundbites after the press conference.

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TodoPoder al Pueblo activist group demonstration outside of Oxnard Police HQ after 10-7-14 press conference. (Photo: Citizensjournal.us)

Group leader and frequent speaker Elliot Gabriel was there to lead the event. The group has pressed for police body cameras, training and policies reviews, which the city and PD are on board with. The demand for a police review board does not have strong support, due to the danger of politicization of the process. Certain activist community members, such as Gabriel, have made accusations of murder by police. This has worsened relations with police who do not believe the accusation is justified. Due to lack of ability to speak out on this while the investigation and settlement went on, officials and the Police Union were quite frustrated at their inability to respond. The union did so very strongly at a recent city council meeting.

The press was interviewing members of the Limon family nearby (photo below) …

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It is good that the $6.7 million award from the city (reportedly mostly covered by insurance) can be used by the Limon family to benefit them, although it will very unfortunately never bring back Alfonso. It may also be good that this tragic incident was wisely used by the family and city as an impetus to make certain improvements to the community and policing as well.

 

10/16/12 Oxnard Police Dept. press conference following the Alfonso Limon incident.

Past relevant articles: 

https://citizensjournal.us/summer-break-over-for-oxnard-city-council-9-9-14-organizational-review-announced-police-killings-discussed-by-residents-major-debt-obligations/

Good Morning Oxnard– 7/23/14 news segment

Oxnard Community Relations Commission Public Safety

District Attorney’s report

Tri-County Reporter video:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U5zy22hM1Bo

This article has beetre coverage on Limon family views: http://abc7.com/news/oxnard-police-takes-steps-toward-change-after-mistaken-identity-shooting/340451/

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George Miller is Publisher of Citizensjournal.us and a “retired” operations management consultant, active in civic affairs, living in Oxnard.

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One Response to Oxnard Police Dept. holds press conference on Limon killing

  1. Bruce Boyer October 7, 2014 at 3:37 pm

    The difficulty is few believe anything Oxnard PD or the City Govt (politicians)say as they prove time and again that they can not be trusted. They are there to further their own interests, watch their backs. What they do is in the interest of “officer safety’, protect themselves w/o regard for the citizens and our Rights. I have had my expeeriences with Oxnard PD and the City of Oxnard. They are just there to stonewall, so I speak from repeated experiences. No, they did not shoot me, but for any who would take issue woith what I sayt, my indepth encounters as a reasonable man with a clear understanding of our Rioghts and liberyty led me to conclude that Oxnard politicians place no value on OUR liberty. Fell free to challenge me, bring it on. If you want to blog on it, OK ask George. I suggest Oxnard is Fascism by the sea.

    Reply

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