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Coroner decision delayed

humboldt_county_coronerHumboldt County Supervisors postponed a decision on whether to remove the Office of Coroner from an elected position and consolidate it with the Sheriffs Department because Supervisor Jill Duffy was absent and the remaining four were split.

A majority of speakers at Tuesday’s meeting opposed the consolidation, and based on comments by Supervisors Mark Lovelace and Jimmy Smith, a majority of emails and phone calls from residents before the meeting leaned the same way.  Much of the concern focused on potential loss of independence of the coroner.

Nevertheless, Supervisor Bonnie Neely made a motion to consolidate and Clif Clendenen quickly seconded.

Lovelace said he couldn’t support the motion because it appeared the decision was based on expediency, but “democracy is not always about expediency,” he said.

Smith said he was torn by his confidence in the Sheriffs Department and the right of the people to elect their representatives.

Following Smith’s comments Neely withdrew her motion so that staff could work on protocols for keeping some semblance of independence and avoid conflicts of interest.  The issue will come back before the board at a later time when a full board can vote on the issue.

Public comment came from across the political spectrum.

McKinleyville resident David Elsebusch said he opposed any change.  “The law says the Board of Supervisors ‘shall fill by appointment any vacated position,'” he said.  “You’re subverting the law.  The law says you shall appoint.”

Elsebusch added “I can’t get my head around the reason there is such adamant advocacy by law enforcement officers” for the consolidation.  He suggested the good ol’ boy network doesn’t want to see “someone in that position that would be more independent than they’d prefer.”

Regular meeting gadfly Daniel Pierce called the move a “Republican plot.”

“You should never transfer the right of the people to the government for expedience,” said McKinleyville resident Dennis Mayo.

Another resident, Noreen (LNU) said the Sheriffs Department is already overloaded and worried that compassion would be lost without a dedicated coroner.

Sheriff Gary Philp bristled at the suggestion.  “I find it highly insulting to my staff [to suggest] that we would not be compassionate,” he said.  “It’s just wrong.  It really does upset me.”  Philp said he’s currently the executor of 14 cases and “it seems to be going smoothly.”  He said his office could “provide better efficiencies” for the coroner’s office if it was consolidated with the sheriffs.

County Administrative Officer Loretta Nickolaus said staff may be ready to bring the matter back to Supervisors in April.

  1. Auntie Mayme
    March 3, 2009 at 11:54 am

    I wish the Sheriff wouldn’t take it personally. The issue is not about him, nor the Sheriff’s department. The issue is about the will of the electorate.

  2. March 3, 2009 at 11:56 am

    Yes, yes. And David Elsebusch is right to question why the cops want it so bad.

  3. HumboldtBlue
    March 3, 2009 at 12:58 pm

    Give the Sheriff a call and I think you’ll find that he just wants the matter settled one way or the other. He was asked to fill the spot when Jager resigned, he agreed and has been badgering the Supes for a decision since December.

    The strongest arguments presented were directly related to having an elected official accountable to the electorate, and nothing countered the strength of that position.

    The Sheriff took personally Noreen’s comments that deputies would show up following a tragedy and treat it as just another ho-hum duty while on patrol. The Sheriff was insulted and he said so. She offered an apology afterward and while he accepted, he did so brusquely.

    I have no idea what Neely was thinking, the amendments she offered to her original motion are already policy — related to officer-involved incidents. Hell, she couldn’t even sway Lovelace, which it sure seemed she was attempting. This one will go down 3-2, aint no way Duffy will vote to remove an elected position from county admin.

    Then again, maybe Pierce is correct, it’s all a secret government plot to allow spacemen to invade our brains and assassinate Kennedy all over again. Listening to him and Mayo, who brought up Raul Castro, I began to wonder if this was a discussion about the Bay of Pigs and not the county coroner.

  4. March 3, 2009 at 1:03 pm

    I have no idea what Neely was thinking, the amendments she offered to her original motion are already policy

    Exactly right. She didn’t seem to take the concerns seriously and so decided to throw in some language that was already code. Good for Mark and Jimmy for not being swayed.

  5. "HENCHMAN OF JUSTICE"
    March 3, 2009 at 2:01 pm

    Scenario,

    inmate dies by hanging, physical abuse, or other unknown circumstances for which direct surveillance video is being suppressed from the public viewership. This is an important reason to not allow conflicts of interest or review by those directly involved with a coroners duties. The Supervisors were wrong in not immediately voting down this proposal.

    Jeffrey Lytle
    McKinleyville – 5th District

  6. "HENCHMAN OF JUSTICE"
    March 3, 2009 at 2:07 pm

    Pandering also occured during the Clam Beach Snowy Plover fencing issue too when a certain person decided to say “I have an employee budget meeting to get to ….”. This statement during public comment was for political pandering which had nothing to do with the Plover fencing issue at hand.

    Jeffrey Lytle
    McKinleyville – 5th District

  7. HumboldtBlue
    March 3, 2009 at 2:11 pm

    inmate dies by hanging, physical abuse, or other unknown circumstances for which direct surveillance video is being suppressed from the public viewership.

    Please point me to the civil code that stipulates the public has the right to view in-jail camera footage, seriously, because I think you’re skipping over a whole host of privacy protections both for inmates and jail personnel.

  8. March 3, 2009 at 2:15 pm

    This issue came up during the Martin Cotten incident. There is footage of him in his jail cell shortly before he died. EPD Cheif Garr Nielsen wanted the footage released but the Sheriff wouldn’t allow it.

  9. HumboldtBlue
    March 3, 2009 at 2:26 pm

    I know Heraldo, and I believe that the Sheriff has the law on his side, although I could be mistaken.

    The reason Nielsen wanted the video out is that some believe that jail personnel allowed Cotton to bang his head against the wall, and from what I’ve heard, that’s about as solid as the LSD overdose bullshit that came from Jager.

    Nielsen’s officers were taking serious heat for their physical altercation with Cotton and Garr figured this would be a good way to re-direct some of that incoming fire.

  10. "HENCHMAN OF JUSTICE"
    March 3, 2009 at 2:34 pm

    Humboldt Blue,

    I never said any person had a right to view the video; however I implied that as part of the internal department investigation, a cover-up is much easier when the same department holding the evidence; and, responsibility, or lack there of, is also the coroner deciding how death resulted. Nice try at spinning a comment!

    Family members do have a right to the video through a process. Since you seem to be in the know as a possible insider, how about posting the Civil Code sections and the Government Code sections you seemed to be opining on while attempting to mince words of another by spinning. Fair is fair, right?

    Jeffrey Lytle
    McKinleyville – 5th District

  11. anon
    March 3, 2009 at 2:44 pm

    To HumboldtBlue: The EPD Chief wanting the release of the Cotton video seems more like a request for truth and plain old transparency, whether it would redirect the heat from EPD or not. And if inmates have privacy rights, why have all the Caysee Anthony videos/audios of her parents visiting her in jail been made available to the public & shown all over the news?

  12. HumboldtBlue
    March 3, 2009 at 3:26 pm

    Jeff, I’m neither in the know nor am I an insider, which is actually pretty funny when I think about it. I do not know the protocol or civil code regarding privacy laws, the jail, inmates and personnel, that’s why I asked for a tip.

    as for Caysee Anthony, I have no idea who that is.

  13. "HENCHMAN OF JUSTICE"
    March 3, 2009 at 3:37 pm

    Humboldt Blue,

    Fair repsonse – I just wondered about the blue part of your moniker. Cops in Blue; Men in Blue, etc…

    Try and access the California civil and government code sections through a search engine.

    Jeffrey Lytle
    McKinleyville – 5th District

  14. anon
    March 3, 2009 at 5:29 pm

    HumboldtBlue: Don’t know who Caysee Anthony is????? You been living under a rock for the last 8 months???? How do you educate yourself on issues if you don’t read newspapers or watch the news?

  15. HumboldtBlue
    March 3, 2009 at 6:02 pm

    How do you educate yourself on issues if you don’t read newspapers or watch the news?

    Stephen Colbert is that really you? Come on you old joker, I know it is.

  16. March 3, 2009 at 6:30 pm

    I used teh Googlez and found out that Caysee (or Cayce Anthony) is the mother accused of killing her daughter months ago that the mainstream media has been obsessed with ever since. Guess my attention isn’t dictated by that crazy gal on channel 16.

  17. "HENCHMAN OF JUSTICE"
    March 3, 2009 at 7:55 pm

    Who is promoting herself on sweet 16?

    Jeffrey Lytle
    McKinleyville – 5th District

  18. March 3, 2009 at 8:04 pm

    Nancy Grace. She’s a TV host who talks non-stop about the murdered little white girl. Thank god no other children were hurt last year or she’d be really busy.

  19. "HENCHMAN OF JUSTICE"
    March 3, 2009 at 8:32 pm

    Ooh, I have heard about her as being really uptight. I wonder if she isas uptight as Dr. Laura on 1480 am.

    Jeffrey Lytle
    McKinleyville – 5th District

  20. March 3, 2009 at 8:59 pm

    8:32pm, Nancy Grace and Dr. Laura in the same sentence.

    They’re both too up tight.

  21. Anonymous
    March 3, 2009 at 9:12 pm

    I do not support Mark now, I have not supported him in the past and it is highly unlikely that I would support him in the future. None of my profound distrust for most of his policies makes him anything less than 100% correct in this instance. Mark is absolutely right that any dilution of our feeble remnants of democracy must not be allowed. Neeleys’ move is just another power grab by her highness. Good for Mark and Jimmy that they are not bowing to Bonnie’s evil glare. Lets hope they keep it up.

  22. Anonymous
    March 3, 2009 at 9:48 pm

    Neeleys’ move is just another power grab by her highness.

    How is that a “power grab” for Neely? You keep using that phrase. I don’t think it means what you think it means.

    She is not appointing herself coroner.

  23. Anonymous
    March 3, 2009 at 10:28 pm

    Excluding Mr Pierce,who needs to put the pipe down, I thought all the speakers in opposition were on point and strong supporters of government by the people.

  24. March 3, 2009 at 10:32 pm

    Daniel went a little off the edge today. I believe at one point he asked if the Supes believed in 9/11. What?

  25. March 4, 2009 at 12:01 am

    Heraldo, do you mean the theory that 3 steel structures melted on that day? Who could believe that?

  26. Ozzy
    March 4, 2009 at 12:03 am

    I’m glad that Mark took the position he did. I think he represented the views of his district accurately.

  27. March 4, 2009 at 12:06 am

    Watch this video

  28. March 4, 2009 at 12:17 am

    do you mean the theory that 3 steel structures melted on that day? Who could believe that?

    I hear you, Tom. But it had little to do with today’s discussion. The Kennedy assassination points were well taken, however.

  29. Anonymous
    March 4, 2009 at 12:32 am

    Sebourn, you need to put that pipe down too, Dude

  30. March 4, 2009 at 1:27 am

    It just goes to show you that other people are more into this conspiracy than I am. I didn’t go and make a video.
    I mostly report other peoples stuff.
    and 12:32 am, No amount of pot could make 9/11 make sense.
    It is possible that you and I have a different idea of what goes into a pipe.

  31. Anonymous
    March 4, 2009 at 7:27 am

    OK Tom, tell us who was really behind 9/11.

  32. "HENCHMAN OF JUSTICE"
    March 4, 2009 at 10:11 am

    Some people could never believe that insiders could cause a 911 conspiracy; while others believe the intentions of unanswered questions could explain a conspiracy.

    Question during Clinton Administration: Could not the original attack, in the early 1990’s down in the basement areas, have given an opportunity during clean-up and rehabbing for insiders to set controlled demolition charges on the column post bases to be used at a later date? There is still many questions like the repetetive angular sheering on ALL the columns due to a high force and velocity outside agent – not twisting due to heat; not shearing due to heat, etc…

    On a side note about technology – If little black boxes in jetliners and other planes can survive water, heat, explosions, etc…, and, these little black boxes can record digital audio; and, digital video exists, then why are there not web cameras, surveillance cameras, etc… used in conjunction with voice data recordation devices so investigators “CAN SEE AS EYEWITNESSES” what transpired on any plane before “The Crash”?

    Just questions to ponder honestly.

    Jeffrey Lytle
    McKinleyville – 5th District

  33. Anonymous
    March 4, 2009 at 10:31 am

    Tom, let’s be real. Contrails are behind Neely’s power grab, not 9/11’s melting steel structures. Contrails canvas Humboldt’s skies every day. New York is 2,598 miles from Eureka and dust from the buildings blew east to the Atlantic Ocean! Get real!

    If you want a real mind blower, how about the connection between Mt. St. Helens’ eruption and the death of Harry Truman? You can’t deny the two are linked.

  34. March 4, 2009 at 10:38 am

    HSU is hosting a forum on the Hidden History of 9/11 on March 10 from 5-7pm. Admission is free:

    SUNY University of Buffalo Economics Professor Paul Zarembka authored the Political and Economics Journal “The Hidden History of 9-11.” Zarembka focuses his personal research on the insider stock trading that tragic day which indicates foreknowledge of the attacks within Wall Street. Zarembka’s contribution has been crucial to the growing scholarly analysis of 9/11.

    Where: Science B 135, HSU Campus
    Contact: Jan; econ@humboldt.edu; 707-826-3204

  35. Anonymous
    March 4, 2009 at 10:45 am

    Insider trading is illegal. If Mr. Z has evidence people broke the law, he should report it to the SEC.

    But if he’s looking for data that matches his preconceived viewpoint, I’m sure there’s a wealth of stock trades from that day or that week which look like people had foreknowledge of 9/11.

    You can also find secret messages in the Bible; it’s just a matter of how much you want to believe and how hard you sift the data until you find a match for your belief. And the redwood burl in my backyard looks like Jesus Christ to me, but I’m not writing a book about it.

  36. Please Think Clearly
    March 4, 2009 at 11:07 am

    I’m AM an insider (you all can bash me later if you want). I can tell you Philp does NOT care if he gets the Coroner’s Office or not. It was handed to him, he did not seek it out.

    As fo conflicts of interest, there aren’t any. Unfortunately, many in the public (and apparently Mark Lovelace) still don’t really understand the role of the Coroner. They imagine that he (or she) is some kind of investigator. Not true. The Coroner only is charged with inquiring into the cause and manner of death. The Coroner NEVER investigates police protocol nor does he determine whether or not a shooting (or other use of force) was justified. He simply determines a cause of death. Actually, a forensic pathologist does that. There are no secrets or cover-ups. Even in a Coroner’s Inquest, it’s the DA’s Office who investigates.

    As for Neely’s “suggestion” that all police related death will be followed by a an autopsy performed by a forensic pathologist, that already happens! ALWAYS!

    And finally, anytime somebody wants to imply that there is something ugly happening in the jail, all they have to do is whisper Martin Cotton’s name. But they pick and choose what part of that day they want to remember. What is rarely retold is the fact that there are several hour during which he was unaccounted for, perhaps he received his injuring then. He got into a fight at the mission with other “patrons,” perhaps her received his head injury then. Eureka Police Officer were called to the Mission because Cotton was so violent. Cotton fought with those officers, perhaps he was injured then. Finally, he was brought to jail. Chief Nielsen was quick to declare that a video tape showed Cotton banging his head in his cell. Of course, Nielsen hadn’t actually seen the tape but he did a good job of shifted focus from EPD the Sheriff’s Office. And as the report got repeated, the account changed until people said that Cotton had “bashed” his head against a wall. Then that gets couple with phrases like “and other abuses” which go unchallenged but paint an ugly picture. The videotape was not released because anything the public sees, the inmates see too. We can’t show our internal security to everyone, such as where our cameras are, what they record, etc. Believe me, it would have been easier to release the tape and answer everyones questions. But EPD’s Chief Nielsen got what he wanted and he successfully shifted the focus to the jail.

    As I already wrote, I AM on the inside so it will be argued that I am part of the cover-up or the good ‘ol boys (whoever they are). There are no cover-ups. It is good to ask questions but please be logical in your thinking.

  37. Anonymous
    March 4, 2009 at 11:13 am

    As to a power grab by Bonnie – she is going to run again and probably wants/needs the endorsement of the Sheriff and the various law enforcement agencies and their union.

    Her motion only included that the “Coroner” would have to have an autopsy – already mandated by law along with many other things.

    Copied from Government Code:

    27491. It shall be the duty of the coroner to inquire into and determine the circumstances, manner, and cause of all violent, sudden, or unusual deaths;

    Note the “determine the circumstances, manner and cause” since this is not just performing an autopsy but doing a certain amount of investigation and if “suspicious or criminal” then law enforcement is called in also. Sheriff investigating the circumstances of a death in his jail or cop shooting? I don’t think I would want that.

  38. March 4, 2009 at 11:23 am

    I can tell you Philp does NOT care if he gets the Coroner’s Office or not.

    Perhaps not. But Philp told the Supes yesterday that his staff is “excited” to take on the Coroner’s Office.

  39. Please Think Clearly
    March 4, 2009 at 11:41 am

    Again, the Coroner never investigates. It’s a team of investigators from mutliple police agencies (not the coroner) that investigate jail or police involved deaths. Do you really believe the Sheriff would solely investigate anything like that? He would be violating written protocols, oponions from the Attorney General, and not to mention be completely out of his mind to exclude other agencies from an investigation. It just doesn’t happen that way! If there is an inmate death or an officer involved death, it’s a team of investigators that conducts the investigation, not the coroner.

  40. March 4, 2009 at 11:46 am

    the Coroner never investigates

    It’s interesting to note that this discussion is taking place under a photo of the Humboldt Coroner’s patch which has the word “Investigator” clearly printed in the middle.

    The image is from the Humboldt County Coroner website.

  41. Please Think Clearly
    March 4, 2009 at 12:01 pm

    Well sure. You can be a crime scene investigator, a bail bond investigator, an arson investigator, a background investigator, or a private investigator.

    All of those folks investigate different things. Wearing a patch that reads “Investigator” doesn’t define what one investigates. The coroner’s office does not investigate law enforcement agencies. You can on believe they do it you want, but it won’t make it true.

  42. March 4, 2009 at 12:04 pm

    It’s not that I want to believe, just pointing out how the county describes the coroner. I appreciate the discussion.

  43. Tom Sebourn
    March 4, 2009 at 12:05 pm

    10:31am, lets be real? O.K., lets say we spend as much money investigating 9/11 as we spend investigating pot grows in Humboldt County.
    That would be real.

  44. anon
    March 4, 2009 at 12:16 pm

    To Please think Clearly: I ask again, how is it that all the Caysee Anthony jail tapes of visits with her parents have been released and are all over the news? You can’t seriously want us to believe tapes wouldn’t be released because HCSO doesn’t want inmates to know where cameras are and how they work. They already know because they have nothing better to do all day than watch and observe. Any 1st year crimonology student, or any idiot for that matter, knows that. Therefore, we are left to conclude that it is a self-protective decision by the Sheriff, so what is he hiding? Perhaps it will come out in the civil suit.

  45. Please Think Clearly
    March 4, 2009 at 12:19 pm

    I’m not sure “the County” paid any attention to what’s on their patches. Some Coroner (maybe as recent as Frank) probably copied another county’s and ordered a bunch. It was under Jager’s term(s) that the deputy coroners all started wearing uniforms too, that looked suspiciously like a Sheriff’s Office uniform. It caused a number of S.O. personnel to scratch their heads but evidently the Coroner’s Office can call themselves whatever they want. I believe it misleads the public. I also believe they work hard and I don’t want to be disrespectful to them or the hard work they do. I only want to make sure the public truly understands they do not investigate law enforcement. Thanks for the discussion Heraldo. I’m off now.

  46. "HENCHMAN OF JUSTICE"
    March 4, 2009 at 1:08 pm

    12:01 pm says,

    “The coroner’s office does not investigate law enforcement agencies.”

    Response = Point Taken; however, we are talking about investigating a victim’s cause for death, not another agency. If the victim was killed by a Sheriff’s Department personnel, it would be a conflict of interest to have the same Department investigating a death which occured within and from that very same Department. Point taken back!

    Jeffrey Lytle
    McKinleyville – 5th District

  47. Please Think Clearly
    March 4, 2009 at 1:26 pm

    OK, I thought I was finished but I will do my best t answer anon. The videotape was viewed by all of the investigators, including the forensic pathologist how concluded it was highly unlikely that Mr. Cotton’s injuries occurred inside his cell (most of which was padded). As for Caylee Anthony, I have no idea why her visiting tapes are being released. Perhaps it’s because inmates are routinely warned that there is no expectation of privacy when they go to visiting or use the telephone in jail. Or perhaps that Sheriff has made a huge mistake and he (and his county) will be held liable for violating her rights. In the end, Caylee Anthony doesn’t have anything to do with Mr. Cotton. What’s important to remember is that dozens of people have viewed the videotape of Cotton. It was never hidden or withheld from anybody who had a legal reason to see it.

    As I wrote earlier, it would have been much easier to release it. I wish we would have. It wasn’t the Sheriff’s decision, it was County Counsel’s. In the end it’s a tape that shows the last minutes of a man’s life and the officers’ life saving efforts. Officers who knew Mr. Cotton. Officers who are still struggling with the events of that day. I realize those remarks will may cause a flurry of mean responses if anybody is reading this. Mr. Cotton died in our jail and there was nothing we could do about it. To suggest that the officers would allow a man to bang his head against a wall and not act to protect him is ludicrous. The videotape doesn’t show anything, but EPD Chief Nielsen sure did it right by dazzling everybody with suggestive ideas about the video. Nielsen hadn’t even seen it. And everybody took the bait.

  48. anon
    March 4, 2009 at 2:44 pm

    I was under the impression that County Counsel ADVISES the Sherifff, but in the end it is his decision because HE RUNS THE JAIL, not County Counsel. Correct or no? Be great to see it come out and you can correct me if you yourself have seen it, but my source says there was a lot of head-banging going on and certainly not everything in that cell is padded. Also, a jailer is not stationed there 24/7 just watching. A lot can happen in 10 or 15 mins when someone is not observed.

  49. "HENCHMAN OF JUSTICE"
    March 4, 2009 at 3:00 pm

    The Sheriff’s Department is a seperate functioning agency with an elected official heading the department. County Counsel has no authoritative powers to tell the Sheriff how to do his job; and, vice a versa!

    Humboldt County Organization Chart

    Jeffrey Lytle
    McKinleyville – 5th District

  50. Anonymous
    March 4, 2009 at 3:02 pm

    The Coroner and his Deputies are all sworn peace officers and maybe that is why “investigator” is on their patch.

    The Coroner can seal a residence so that no one can enter if it is a crime scene and call the appropriate office which could be the D.A.’s investigators. The Coroner has subpoena power along with others.

  51. Please Think Clearly
    March 4, 2009 at 3:10 pm

    Yes, County Counsel “advises” the Sheriff, but he would be acting very carelessly with taxpayer money if he ignored the advice of the attorneys.

    And, yes, I’ve seen the tape. I saw him seated on the floor, moving around a lot. He tips over a couple of times and then sits back up. He may have hit his head when he tipped over (from a seated position) but I never saw any head banging. You’re right though, there isn’t an officer stationed in the cell the entire time. An officer checks at least every 15 minutes. You can see the officers checking on him through the window in the video and they note it on the log. Then he lays down and a few minutes later an officer notices his behavior has changed nad opens the door. On the tape you see officers doing CPR and rescue breathing.

    I will acknowlege I viewed the tape before Chief Nielsen said anything about Cotton banging his head, so I wasn’t looking for it specifically. That said, I never saw Cotton banging his head.

    I agree that a lot can happen in 15 minutes when someone is not observed. But there are a few thins that are so upsetting in all of this. The first, of course, is that Mr. Cotton died. If you work in our jail, you get to know the inmates. They are not anonymous “inmates” and we are not anonynous “guards.” Them while dealing with the event itself, people in our own community made horrible accusations. Accusations of abuse or even murder. There are almost no avenues for us to respond because everything is “in litigation.” Meanwhile the stories and accusations take on a life of there own in the name of “Remembering Martin Cotton.”

  52. "HENCHMAN OF JUSTICE"
    March 4, 2009 at 3:18 pm

    Is there digital audio recorders in conjunction with the digital audio tapes which can show the whole jail cell without leaving ” black spots or undetectable areas”? Sheriff’s Deputies should have digital audio recorders on their person at all times. The reason thus far that they don’t raises questions of manufacturing police reports to fit the mold that they want to choreograph. Ah, the stuff a person can get on tape….priceless.

    I will check in on this diverting thread later since my late lunch break is concluding. Time to enjoy the sunshine.

    Jeffrey Lytle
    McKinleyville – 5th District

  53. Please Think Clearly
    March 4, 2009 at 3:50 pm

    Black spots? You mean areas that aren’t visible in the cameras? Well, that falls back to jail security. But specific to that cell, the whole thing is pretty much visible. There is no audio recording. I’m not sure I understnad your question or comment. But no offense Jeffrey, I rarely understand you. But enjoy the sunshine.

    I’m kind of done with this thread. It’s been almost two years since Martin Cotton died. I’m sure his family is still grieving and our officers still talk about him.

    As I wrote earlier today, it’s good to ask questions. It’s important. What cuts so deep though, is the willingness of so many people to believe that everybody who works in the jail is a monster. And to believe in a cover-up requires that one believe that EVERYONE who works there is in on it. One has to believe that there isn’t a single honest, moral person working there or else somebody would talk.

    “Manufacturing police reports to fit the mold that they want to choreograph”? Sure Jeffrey. But seriously, go enjoy the sunhine dude.

  54. anon
    March 4, 2009 at 4:20 pm

    Working in a jail, like being a cop, are jobs that most folks will never fully understand unless they walk in those shoes. That said, if there is no head-banging or self-inflicted injuries, it really is hard to think of legitimate reasons not to release the tape.

  55. Please Think Clearly
    March 4, 2009 at 5:18 pm

    We need to differentiate betwen legitimate reasons and emotional reasons.

    The legitimate reasons have already been listed, not the least of which is internal jail security. Again, anything released to the public is released to the inmate poluation. The inmates know where the camaras are (mostly) but they do not know what images are captured, whether or not they are still imagas or video, or which cameras may be closed-circuit for monitoring vs. which are recorded.

    On the other hand, the emotional reasons to release the tape are obvious. To relieve an anxius or doubtful public. To defend the reputations of the officers at the jail.

    Another emotional concern that I mentioned is it’s a video of the last minutes of a man’s life. It’s a video of officers doing CPR and rescue breathing. That’s all real, not like on TV or in a movie. I would not want a video like that of my family member released to the public. It would show up on youtube and shown over and over. His family would watch him die over and over.

    If the choice was mine, I’m not sure if I would have released the video. The Sheriff wisely took the advise of County Counsel which advised him not release it because it was part of an investigation and not public record.

    For purely emotional reasons, part of me wishes we would have released it. But I also have to work in the jail and the inmates and staff need to be as safe as we can. We can’t tip our hand by showing our security measures.

  56. Not A Native
    March 4, 2009 at 5:18 pm

    So let me get this straight. We now have an independent coroner.

    But questions are raised that the coroner’s cause of death in a number of circumstances aren’t credible. Some are alleging that there are cover ups and evidence isn’t being properly looked into.

    Now, exactly how is retaining an independent coroner going to help eliminate those doubts in the future?

  57. Please Think Clearly
    March 4, 2009 at 5:19 pm

    I’ve been wondering that same thing Not a Native.

  58. anon
    March 4, 2009 at 6:42 pm

    Doubts can be eliminated by a process that’s as transparent as possible. Defending the actions of jailers is much more a legal reason than an emotional one. And as for seeing stuff like that on youtube, you obviously don’t look at the stuff that’s on there now if you think people would be appalled. Also, do we not think the family is eventually going to see it when their civil suit progresses?

  59. humboldturtle
    March 4, 2009 at 6:43 pm

    Questions have been raised, cover-ups alleged, evidence ignored, so give the office to the sheriff to run? Sounds like a set-up for sarcasm. Anyone?

  60. anon
    March 4, 2009 at 6:46 pm

    And PTC, as far as what inmates know or don’t know about the security measures and surveillance in jails, I am not naive enough to think that information like that stays totally secret. In fact,I would be surprised that you would truly believe that, if you are any good at your job.

  61. Please Think Clearly
    March 4, 2009 at 7:27 pm

    Of course the family will see it. It’s part of the whole investigation. That goes back to those pesky legal reasons it wasn’t released to the public. The video hasn’t been hidden away, or destroyed. It’s been seen by investigators, forensic patholgists, and even attorneys. None of them work for the Sheriff. Even Chief Nielsen got around to watching it eventually. But by then it was too late. He had already panicked at his “Town Hall Meeting” and diverted everyone’s attention by hollering about a video to the media. He knew full well that evidence is not released to the public while an investigation is still happening. Nielsen did a great job of distracting everybody with talk of a video that would supposedly let EPD off the hook. Everybody fell for it.

    Anon, I am very aware of some of the garbage that people post on youtube. I’d like to believe that some people might still have enough sense to be “appalled” by some things. We’re supposed to be.

    Also, I did not say, nor do I believe that our security measures are “totally secret.” I do know we work hard to minimize the inmates’ knowlege of our “behind the scenes” security measures. Nobody who works in the jail is complacent enough to think the inmates aren’t paying attention. But they don’t tell us all of their secrets and we don’t tell them all of ours.

    Finally, I’m not sure why you took a shot at me about whether or not I’m good at my job as I thought we were just some folks having a decent discussion.

  62. anon
    March 4, 2009 at 8:14 pm

    Characterizing Chief’s Nielsen’s comments as “panicked” and “hollering” shows a tad bit animosity, and truthfully is quite an overstatement. And I am sorry you are touchy about your job, but Corrections 101 teaches that nothing inmates know, even details about your private lives, should surprise you, including that you may not be as successful at minimizing their knowledge as you think you are.
    So, now that the investigation is over, what are the reasons the tape hasn’t been released?

  63. Anonymous
    March 4, 2009 at 8:17 pm

    Anon, it is a poorly kept secret that Garr Neilsen is doing a poor job and that he has a deer in the headlights look as this job has been way over his head.

    The only thing he has done a good job at is public relations.

    It is also common knowledge that he is out looking for another job.

  64. Please Think Clearly
    March 4, 2009 at 8:36 pm

    anon, I’ve already answered your question. I think you just don’t like the answer so you keep asking.

    I am not “touchy” about my job, although I admit I don’t like having my abilities questioned by somebody who does not know me. Furthermore, nothing you have written about corrections is revealing, but you keep mixing up your argument. A lot of inmates know where I live. If you know somebody’s name, you can usually find an address on the Internet. Some know my children because their children and mine share the same classroom. We see each other “on the street” after they are released.

    I did not say we completely ELIMINATE inmates’ knowlege of our security measures. I said we take efforts to MINIMIZE their understanding and knowlege of them. According to your logic though, the jail and its officers are silly for security measures because the inmates have already defeated them all. Let’s take your argument to it’s fullest conclusion. We might as well unlock the doors and call it a day. The inmates are running the place according to you.

    Ultimately I don’t think I can give you an answer that will satisfy you. But we’re awfully close to just bickering now so I think I will wish you the best, anon, and say good night.

  65. anonymous
    March 4, 2009 at 9:02 pm

    Anonymous, This can’t be DD or Suzie again, can it? Or perhaps someone else from the increasingly shrinking pool of epd whiners… Sad. Please get a life.

    And to PTC: My point has been that not releasing the tape so inmates won’t know about security measures is a very flimsy reason at best. No mix-up there. Still looking for a valid reason why it hasn’t been released now that the investigation is over.

  66. Anonymous
    March 4, 2009 at 9:48 pm

    It is also common knowledge

    Common knowledge for one person with an axe to grind.

  67. Anonymous
    March 5, 2009 at 7:15 am

    Of course I have an axe to grind against Nielsen; He’s doing a terrible job.

    I have an axe to grind just like this blogowner has against Rob Arkley.

    Doesn’t mean that Garrfish isnt out looking for another job. Ask Larry Glass, I’m sure he knows.

  68. Anonymous
    March 5, 2009 at 7:21 am

    Than you for admitting your bias clouds your judgment of Nielsen’s good track record. Your insults and lies won’t change reality, unless you are correct in the belief that we each make our own reality. Enjoy your Heisenberg bubble.

  69. anonymous says
    March 5, 2009 at 4:39 pm

    What kind of leadership did clendenan display on his first major vote on the Board?

    He is completely out of touch with the voters on this one. Shows the rumors to be true re: him having to kiss Bonnie Neely’s A## now that she got him elected. what a WHIMP

  70. anonymous says
    March 5, 2009 at 4:49 pm

    Consolidating the Sheriff and Coroner is a bad idea

    Redwood Times
    Posted: 03/04/2009 10:25:10 AM PST

    Editor’s Note: This letter was addressed to the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors and was submitted as a letter to the editor.

    I noticed that your board is considering consolidating the sheriff’s and coroner’s offices into one unit. We debated that at great lengths in the 90’s when I was on the board. It was a bad idea then and I feel that it’s a worse idea today. From my experience, I was in the towing business 28 years and I covered many fatal accidents and I personally experienced a situation where if the departments had been consolidated, there would have been an opportunity for a cover up.

    I have the utmost respect for Sheriff Philp but he will not always be our sheriff. I feel strongly that we need independent agencies. Frank Jager has made the statement that no matter what happens, he believes that it should be an appointed office rather than an elected office. I can support that concept, as we have other very good department heads that are appointed to their positions.

    Once we give something up, we never get it back. As for the cost issue; we all know that is “smoke and mirrors.” You would have to prove to me the cost savings because I just cannot see it.

    Roy Heider
    Former 2nd District Supervisor
    Humboldt County

  71. "HENCHMAN OF JUSTICE"
    March 5, 2009 at 6:34 pm

    3:50 pm,

    Actually, you understand everything I am discussing on this thread. Liars are a step below murderers and rapists – those crimes which tend to happen in the dark. Time for you to share the sunshine with me!

    Jeffrey Lytle
    McKinleyville – 5th District

  72. No Foolin
    March 5, 2009 at 7:40 pm

    Clif is paying the price of being Neely’s puppet. Was it worth it Clif? Pretty transparent. Paying the Piper. Bonnie on her way to Sheriff’s endorsement 2010!

  73. Anonymous
    March 6, 2009 at 10:15 pm

    5th dst. take your lithium. PLEASE!

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