Turning Up the Heat on a Cold Case

weston-rewardHoping to bring justice to a family that has been waiting seven years, Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas offered a $10,000 reward for information leading to the killers of Waymon Weston.

“His death can’t be seen as anything other than an absolute tragedy,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said at a press conference to announce a renewal of a reward that he first offered in 2011.

weston-reward-2“He had his whole life in front of him and he and his family were essentially robbed of that,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas added. “It is our job to do something about it.”

Weston’s mother, Yolanda Williams, appealed to the public for help. “This is my eighth Christmas with my son being gone,” she said. “It’s really hurting me real bad to know that someone out here in the streets took my son away and they’re still walking around freely.”

On October 19, 2009, Weston was standing outside his house, talking on a phone with his girlfriend, when at least two men walked over, asked him if he had a gang affiliation, opened fire without provocation, and fled in a dark sedan.

Weston died at the scene on the 1100 block of West 90th Street in Athens-Westmont. He was 20.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department urged anyone with information about his murder to contact Homicide Detective Robert Gray at (323) 890-5500 or Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-8477.

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Yolanda Williams urges the public to come forward with information on her son’s 2009 murder

 

Good Samaritans Honored

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Shakinna Smith, Briana Bolden and Chantae Miller receive scrolls from Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. (Photos by David Franco/Board of Supervisors)

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, together with Sheriff Jim McDonnell, honored three women for coming to the aid of a deputy who suffered a heart attack while on duty in Compton.

Briana Bolden, Shakinna Smith and Chantae Miller rushed to help Sgt. Al Lopez, a 26-year veteran of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD), after he collapsed in his patrol car on October 24.

“During these tenuous times, where law enforcement and community relations are frayed, your example shows us all what it means to be a engaged member of the community, a caring neighbor and a selfless human being,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said while presenting each woman with a scroll lauding their heroism.

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Sheriff Jim McDonnell speaks as Brianna Bolden looks on. (Photo by David Franco/Board of Supervisors)

Sheriff McDonnell also presented scrolls to the women, expressing the gratitude of the LASD. “These three women took it upon themselves to do what they could to render aid and help try to save (Sgt. Lopez’) life,” he said. “We are very, very, thankful for that.”

Bolden graciously accepted the award on behalf of the group, and explained that when they tried to help Sgt. Lopez that day – which happened to be her 21st birthday – “We did what we had to do.”

Bolden had been driving with Smith and Miller near Willowbrook Avenue and Myrrh Street when she observed an LASD patrol car roll slowly through the intersection against a red light, then hit a fence before coming to a stop. Finding Sgt. Lopez unconscious behind the wheel, Miller ran a quarter of a mile to the nearby Compton Sheriff’s Station to alert his fellow deputies. Smith tried to open the patrol car to render aid, and Bolden flagged down a radio car to report the emergency.

Responding deputies administered first aid and rushed Sgt. Lopez to St. Francis Hospital, but he did not recover. Supervisor Ridley-Thomas offered condolences to his family.

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The Board of Supervisors and Sheriff with Shakinna Smith, Briana Bolden and Chantae Miller. (Photo by David Franco/Board of Supervisors)

 

Fighting Hate Crimes

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Statement by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas in Support of Board Chair Hilda Solis’ Motion Addressing Hate Crimes

“According to the Commission on Human Relations’ most recent hate crimes report, the number of hate crimes reported in Los Angeles County rose 24 percent from 2014 to 2015, breaking a seven-year general downward trend. The number of hate crimes statewide also increased – by 10 percent in 2015.

“The rise in hate crimes was across all the major categories — not just race, ethnicity, national origin, but also sexual orientation, religion and gender identity.

“Los Angeles experienced the highest rate of violence for homophobic crimes since 2003. African-Americans were grossly over-represented as victims, even in hate crimes that were not motivated by race. Disturbingly, many hate crimes in 2015 occurred in public places – on public transportation, on the sidewalk, and in plain view of others.

“We know that after triggering events, there is an increase in hate crimes and incidents. For example, anti-Muslim crimes increased after the terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino. Four such crimes were reported after the Paris attacks on Nov. 13. Nine followed the Dec. 2 mass shooting at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino.

“The November 8th election is turning out to be another triggering event. This board has stood up to hate on several occasions – most recently the May 2016 motion supporting the ban on travel for county business to North Carolina until HB2 is lifted and the December 2015 motion on violence and acts of hate.

“We will continue to say ‘not on my watch’ when it comes to acts of hate.

“I support this motion, I thank the Chair for putting a spotlight on this issue and l look forward to hearing back from the departments.”

New Leadership at Probation Department

(left to right) Terri McDonald and Sheila Mitchell

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas hailed the Board of Supervisors’ appointment of Terri McDonald as Chief Probation Officer, and of Sheila Mitchell as Chief Deputy Probation Officer.

“I look forward to working with Terri McDonald and Sheila Mitchell in reforming the Probation Department to ensure that youth and adults have the greatest chance of rebuilding their lives,” he said.

“Terri is a proven reformer who has already achieved notable improvements to our jail system. I am confident in her ability to carry out the changes we need in Probation, especially with Sheila as her second-in-command, as she is a renowned expert in juvenile justice with a track record of system change in California,”Supervisor Ridley-Thomas added. “Terri and Sheila are already making history by becoming the first women to lead Probation. I hope they can steer the long-troubled department to a brighter future.”

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Probation Officers

McDonald has 28 years of experience at both the state and local levels of government, including as Los Angeles County Assistant Sheriff of Custody Division, implementing the recommendations of the Citizens Commission on Jail Violence, until her retirement in April.

Mitchell is currently the chief operating officer for the nonprofit Unity Care, which develops educational and social programs to enrich the lives of at-risk youth. From 2004-2013, she was the Chief Probation Officer of Santa Clara County.

 

Historic Civilian Oversight Commission

Implementing historic criminal justice reform, the Board of Supervisors appointed the first-ever Civilian Oversight Commission for the Sheriff’s Department, with a mandate to promote transparency in law enforcement and restore public trust.

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, principal author of the motion that created the Commission, said, “Civilians must play a critical role in holding law enforcement to the highest standards of constitutional policing. This Commission will bring new ideas to the forefront, establish new discourse, and bring new urgency in finding solutions.”

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Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, flanked by Board Chair Hilda Solis, Sheriff Jim McDonnell and Inspector General Max Huntsman at press conference on Civilian Oversight Commission.

“With the Commission, the public will have a dedicated forum to promote accountability and build partnership with the Sheriff’s Department (LASD), the Office of Inspector General, and the Board of Supervisors,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas added. “If law enforcement is to be effective in the context of 21st century policing, it must have civilian input.”

The Board seated the Commission’s executive director and nine members, including legal scholars, current and former law enforcement officials, civil rights activists, religious leaders, and an advocate for victims of violence. Executive Director Brian K. Williams said, “I’m looking forward to working with the other member agencies to make what I think will be the model law enforcement agency in the nation.”

Sheriff Jim McDonnell embraced the Commission, saying, “I anticipate that our working relationship will be very much a partnership.”

”We at the LASD understand that to build community relations, we must also build community credibility,” Sheriff McDonnell added. “We will be stronger and more effective, and be viewed with greater trust, when we welcome outside eyes.”

Inspector General Max Huntsman called the Commission a “game changer” that would “allow the public to interact with the Sheriff’s Department in a very robust way – not to shout at each other, but to really come together and talk.”

“Healing must occur, but for that to happen, our citizens must have reason to trust,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said. “This Civilian Oversight Commission will play a critical role in the rebuilding process.”

CIVILIAN OVERSIGHT COMMISSION

  • Hernán Vera, attorney and former president and CEO of Public Counsel, appointed by Supervisor Solis
  • Xavier Thompson, President of Baptist Ministers’ Conference and Senior Pastor of the Southern Saint Paul Church, appointed by Supervisor Ridley-Thomas
  • Patti Giggans, Executive Director of Peace Over Violence, appointed by Supervisor Kuehl
  • JP Harris, former Sheriff’s lieutenant, appointed by Supervisor Knabe
  • Robert C. Bonner, attorney and former U.S. Attorney and DEA Administrator, appointed by Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich
  • Sean Kennedy, executive director of Center for Juvenile Law & Policy at Loyola Law School and former federal public defender, appointed by the Board of Supervisors
  • Heather Miller, Rabbi, Beth Chayim Chadashim, appointed by the Board of Supervisors
  • Priscilla Ocen, Loyola Law School Associate Professor, appointed by the Board of Supervisors
  • Lael Rubin, former Deputy District Attorney, appointed by the Board of Supervisors