Friday, August 29, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Injustice seen in black and white

RichRifkinW

By
From page A6 | March 06, 2013 |

In both cases, the mistreatment of residents stemmed from Davis police officers assuming crimes had taken place and they knew who was guilty — before conducting investigations.

They failed to treat residents of our community with respect. They acted aggressively, intemperately and without regard for justice.

The first took place May 23, 2012, outside the Glacier Point Apartments in West Davis. It has received widespread media attention. It includes an allegation that the officers involved were racially biased.

According to press reports, the police received a 911 call about a domestic dispute involving two African-Americans, Jerome Wren and Tatiana Bush. The caller said the couple was arguing and told the dispatcher there had been “a physical encounter.”

Moments later, four patrol cars raced to the scene. Four!

The cops claimed Wren disobeyed their commands, so they handcuffed him and stuffed him into a squad car. While detained, the officers say Wren removed his handcuffs, kicked open the door, jumped out and punched an officer in the face and that forced them to Taser him.

A June 5 California Aggie story reports a different version of events: “Bush said, while the male subject was in the car, he asked about where his phone was. Then three officers grabbed him, throwing him to the ground outside of the car. She said he tried to stand up and four officers tackled him to the ground near the Glacier Point sign, where he was then Tasered.”

The cops dealt with Wren as if he was a dangerous criminal. Yet he wasn’t.

Bush told the Davis Vanguard she had been under emotional stress due to her mother’s health and “her living status.” She visited Wren, that day, to talk about these matters. Due to her emotional state, she said she was loud.

“(Wren) was trying to hug me to calm me down, but I wouldn’t let him,” she told the Aggie. That was the “physical encounter.”

On Feb. 13, the Davis Police Department concluded, “…the interactions with Ms. Bush and Mr. Wren did not meet the highest expectations of professional conduct and service that are expected of members of the Davis Police Department.”

While sustaining the charge that the officers acted improperly, the department’s investigation added, “There was no evidence that bias or the race of any involved person played a part in the handling of this incident.”

After reading The Enterprise’s account of the Bush and Wren case, a white resident, Steven Hanson, 61, whose family has been in Davis since 1919, told me his story. Up to now it has received no media attention.

It was Aug. 24, 2011, a Saturday afternoon. Hanson was at his home in East Davis. Officer Andrew Penrose banged on his door. Hanson had no idea why.

Penrose ordered Hanson to step outside. He demanded that the resident, then recuperating from surgery, follow him past his driveway, across the sidewalk and into the street.

“Now you’re on my territory!” Penrose yelled.

Next door, Hanson’s neighbors were holding a yard sale.

Rather than politely asking this lifelong Davis citizen questions about an allegation which had been made against him, Officer Penrose launched into a tirade, accusing Hanson of stalking a woman, also a Davis resident, with whom Hanson had had a falling out over a professional relationship.

Penrose decided before he got to Hanson’s home that the tale the woman told was true. Penrose did not wait to hear Hanson’s side of the story.

The allegations she leveled, Hanson says, were false. He never stalked her. The DA did not charge him. He was never even issued a ticket.

If any crime had been committed, Hanson believes, it was by this woman, filing a false police report. Her anger stemmed from the fact that Hanson had reported her to the state board that oversees her profession, and that board upheld his allegations against her.

But Penrose never asked Hanson what was going on. Instead, he got inches from Hanson’s face and harangued Hanson to stop harassing her, stop calling her, stop going her to home.

Penrose behaved as if he were judge, jury and executioner of justice.

Hanson knew he had done nothing wrong. But in front of his neighbors, an unprofessional cop was berating him. Two other officers stood behind Hanson, apparently waiting to tackle the 61-year-old man, fresh from surgery, in case he reacted to Penrose’s diatribe.

A department investigation upheld Hanson’s accusation. “Officer Penrose conducted himself in an unprofessional manner, which is a violation of department rules. He did not need to approach you in the manner in which he did and it would have been more appropriate to ask you questions, in a non-accusatory manner, so that he could have concluded his investigation. Therefore the complaint has been classified as sustained.”

Although Hanson told me that Officer Penrose is not white, he did not claim the cop acted out of racial bias.

There’s no way to know if Bush and Wren were mistreated because of their skin color. However, it’s not the case that most black residents of Davis are being abused by the police. And it is not the case that most police misconduct in Davis involves black victims.

Last June, Bush told The Aggie, “It’s disgusting how (Davis police) treat African-American students, and I won’t stand for such things.”

I agree with Tatiana Bush that it is disgusting how she and Wren were treated. But if cases like Hanson’s received equal publicity, it would become clear that victims of police misconduct come in all colors.

— Rich Rifkin is a Davis resident; his column is published every other week. Reach him at Lxartist@yahoo.com

  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .

    News

    Davis Innovation Center team fields questions

    By Dave Ryan | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Saving Putah Creek: a quiet concert at sunset

    By Elizabeth Case | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Mr. Dolcini goes to Washington

    By Tanya Perez | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Winton to be feted for her many years of community work

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Researchers solve mystery of Death Valley’s moving rocks

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2 | Gallery

     
    California extends review of $25B delta plan

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    Assembly approves statewide ban on plastic bags

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

    Forum explores local mental health services

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Solar-cooking workshop set at Food Co-op

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Celebrate the Senior Center at Sept. 9 luncheon

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Need a new best friend?

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3 | Gallery

    Equestrian eventing competition slated

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Dinner, auction benefit Yolo County CASA

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Kids can sign up for a library card and get a free book

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    Explorit Science Center: Volunteers supercharge summer camp

    By Lisa Justice | From Page: A4 | Gallery

    Tee off for Davis’ continued prosperity

    By Lily Holmes | From Page: A4

     
     
    Bodega Marine Laboratory hosts open house

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5 | Gallery

    Local group charts a year’s worth of beauty in flowers

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

     
    Free blood pressure screenings offered

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

    Name Droppers: UCD honors two of its own

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A6

     
    Books, conversation and poetry at Logos

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

     
    .

    Forum

    Let’s sell the MRAP on eBay

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: C2

     
    Seeing both sides of ‘tank’

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: C2

    What if we need MRAP?

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: C2

     
    How could tank be helpful?

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: C2

     
    Tom Meyer cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: C2

    Don’t sentence our police to death

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: C2, 1 Comment

     
    Will Davis see river water?

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: C2

    Travel buddy is getting too fat

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

     
    .

    Sports

    Forget the score; focus on the energy brought by Aggies

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1

     
    Returning seniors, new faces lead promising DHS links squad

    By Evan Ream | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Devil golfers return from Scotland with smiles on their faces

    By Evan Ream | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Devils scrimmage with Sac

    By Wayne Tilcock | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    UCD-Stanford: the clock is down to counting the minutes

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1

     
    Sports briefs: DHS girls fall by the slimmest of net margins

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B6 | Gallery

    Wire briefs: Aces cruise past Cats at Raley

    By Wire and staff reports | From Page: B6

     
    .

    Features

    .

    Arts

    ‘The November Man’: Who can be trusted?

    By Derrick Bang | From Page: A9 | Gallery

     
    B Street’s ‘The Ladies Foursome’ is aces

    By Bev Sykes | From Page: A9 | Gallery

    .

    Business

    Technology makes a great car better

    By Ali Arsham | From Page: C1 | Gallery

     
    .

    Obituaries

    Margarita Elizondo

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    Elaine Dracia Greenberg

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

    .

    Comics