Tag Archives: Vallejo CA

Vallejo says it ‘inadvertently’ destroyed records in five police shooting investigations

The records were destroyed in early 2021 before their destruction was allowed under city policy.
Vallejo police officers shot and killed Mario Romero in his car on Sept. 2, 2012. The city says it ‘inadvertently’ destroyed records from Romero’s case. Photo: Vallejo Police Department.
Vallejo Sun, by Scott Morris, December 1, 2022

VALLEJO – The city of Vallejo “inadvertently” destroyed audio and video records in five police shooting investigations from the department’s most violent two-year span before the material would have been publicly released as required by law, according to the Vallejo City Attorney’s Office.

The records were destroyed in early 2021 before their destruction was allowed under city policy. Assistant City Attorney Katelyn Knight revealed that they had been destroyed in a series of emails in response to several public records requests for audio and video materials by the Vallejo Sun.

Evidence destruction logs released by the city indicate that the evidence was destroyed on Jan. 11, Jan. 13 and Jan. 20, 2021, and each item indicates that the city attorney’s office approved their disposal. The Sun requested all police shooting records in the possession of Vallejo police in early 2019.

The records could have provided insight to one of the department’s most violent and scrutinized periods, when Vallejo police killed six people in 2012. Some of the records destroyed were from one of the most controversial shootings in the department’s history: the killing of Mario Romero by Officers Sean Kenney and Dustin Joseph on Sept. 2, 2012.

Romero was sitting with his brother-in-law in a parked car when officers approached them and allegedly told them to put their hands up. Kenney and Joseph fired at the car, reloaded and fired again, only stopping after Romero slumped back into the driver’s seat. Family members who witnessed the shooting say they saw Kenney continue to fire while standing on the car’s hood. Romero was shot 30 times and died at a hospital. In 2015, Vallejo paid a $2 million settlement to Romero’s family.

The records destroyed in the Romero investigation include recordings of interviews with Kenney and Joseph, interviews with witnesses, documents from those interviews and video of officers canvassing the neighborhood for witnesses, among other evidence, according to destruction logs released by the city.

According to the city’s retention schedule, it is required to retain such records for five years following closure of the case, well short of the 25 years recommended by the state Department of Justice. In the Romero shooting, the administrative investigation was not reviewed by then-police Chief Andrew Bidou until September 2016. The city destroyed the records on Jan. 11, 2021, less than five years after Bidou’s review, while several requests for the material were pending.

Knight said that the other shootings affected were the fatal shooting of 44-year-old Marshall Tobin by Officers Joseph McCarthy and Robert Kerr on July 4, 2012; the fatal shooting of 42-year-old William Heinze by Officers Dustin Joseph, Ritzie Tolentino and Josh Coleman on March 20, 2013; the fatal shooting of 57-year-old Mohammad Naas by Officer Steve Darden on June 8, 2013; and the injury shooting of Tony Ridgeway by Officer Josh Coleman on Aug, 24, 2013.

Coleman recently testified in Solano County Superior Court that after the Heinze shooting, then-Sgt. Kent Tribble bent the tip of his badge to mark the shooting in a bar across the street from police headquarters while Joseph was present. Coleman testified that no one would be allowed to watch the badge bending ritual unless they had also participated.

Coleman has since left the department to join the Napa County Sheriff’s Office and Joseph is a police officer in Fairfield, where he has been the target of protests following the revelations that officers participated in the badge-bending tradition.

The city has also refused to release an outside investigator’s report on the badge bending ritual, leading the American Civil Liberties Union to sue the department to compel its release last week.

The destroyed records had previously been secret under state law, but became public records after the state legislature passed SB 1421 in 2018, which made investigations into police shootings public records. The city received numerous public records requests for any such records once the law took effect on Jan. 1, 2019, but it has struggled to comply and has been releasing records at a snail’s pace for nearly four years.

Knight said that the city would not destroy any further records until its public records requests are completed and that the city had taken steps to ensure that no further records are destroyed.

But Knight declined to say what steps were taken. “While we are unable to share privileged communications from our office to City Departments, the City has in place an administrative process for records management,” she wrote.

Menacing threat to Vallejo (and Benicia): Greenland’s rapidly shrinking ‘zombie ice’

Brendan Riley’s Solano Chronicles: Vallejo’s shoreline threatened by zombie ice

Flooding around the old Times-Herald and News-Chronicle building in 1967 on what’s now Curtola Parkway could occur again there and elsewhere in Vallejo without safeguards against predicted sea rise. (Vallejo Naval and Historical Museum files)

Vallejo Times-Herald, Sept 11, 2022

Efforts to extend the shorelines of Vallejo and now-closed Mare Island Naval Shipyard, just across the Napa River, transformed bay and river waters into thousands of acres of low-lying land. But those efforts that spanned more than a century are threatened by “zombie ice” and other effects of global warming.

A new study, published Aug. 29 in the journal Nature Climate Change, describes part of Greenland’s rapidly shrinking ice sheet as zombie ice because it’s doomed to melt. The study says that by 2100 the melting ice sheet, no longer being replenished by glaciers getting less snow, will raise global sea levels a minimum of 10 inches and possibly as much as 2 ½ feet.

The sea rise from the Greenland ice sheet would be in addition to other Arctic and Antarctic ice melting due to global warming. Other documents, including a National Academy of Sciences report and a current State Sea-Level Rise Action Plan, warn that ice melt from all sources could cause two or more feet of sea rise on the West Coast as early as 2050 and five to six feet of rise by 2100.

Vallejo was part of a 2018 sea-rise study by a group called Resilient by Design. The study included an interactive risk-zone map on the Internet at sealevel.climatecentral.org/maps that shows the impact of rising levels. That easy-to-use link is available to anyone interested in seeing how our area would be impacted by varying amounts of sea rise.

The Resilient by Design link indicates that a foot of sea rise, without new levees, seawalls or other barriers, would flood a large strip of Vallejo’s Riverfront Park, along Wilson Avenue north of Tennessee Street. On Mare Island, part of its southwest tip would be underwater. Flooding also would occur on marshy land to the north, adjacent to State Route 37 and Dutchman Slough; and on SR37 near Black Point, several miles west of Vallejo.

Without protective barriers, a five-foot rise in the tideline would cause temporary or permanent flooding on most of SR37 (Sears Point Road) between Vallejo and Novato to the west. Much of the Mare Island fill land would be affected, including parts of Nimitz Avenue in the shipyard’s historic core.

In Vallejo, a long stretch of Mare Island Way and part of Curtola Parkway could flood. That would affect the municipal marina, Vallejo Yacht Club, a former State Farm Insurance building proposed as a new Police Department, the Ferry Building, Independence Park and the city boat launch area. Many locations to the south also could flood, including the city’s sewage treatment plant, Kiewit Pacific and the old Sperry Mill site.

Those projected flood zones would affect most, if not all, of the Vallejo and Mare Island shorelines that were expanded starting in the 1850s. Old navigation charts show the Navy, which opened its first West Coast shipyard in 1854, quickly filled in a strip of marshland along the river and constructed a seawall or quay where ships could tie up.

Expansion of Mare Island continued for decades, resulting in the shipyard increasing from less than 1,000 acres to its estimated 5,600 acres today. The new land was formed all the way around the island mainly by dredged mud from Mare Island Strait, the renamed stretch of the Napa River between the island and Vallejo, and by fill that was imported or obtained by digging into original higher ground on the island. Some of the new land is designated as marsh or tideland, but at least half of the new acreage has streets and roads and was used for all types of Navy shipyard activity.

On the Vallejo side, expansion into the Mare Island Strait added nearly 500 acres along the waterfront. The projects included one in the early 1900s that filled in a wide section of river that once separated Vallejo from South Vallejo.

The new land was formed by establishing a barrier that ran straight from the city boat ramp area almost to Lemon Street in South Vallejo. Mud dredged from the river on the west side of the barrier, or bulwark, was then pumped into what once had been navigable water and tideland on the other side.

The dredge-and-fill process that began on a large scale in 1913 took several years, creating more land and more direct road links between the two communities. Present-day Sonoma Boulevard between Curtola Parkway and Lemon Street would not exist without this project. The same goes for the sewage plant, Kiewit and many other businesses.

Without all the fill, you could anchor a boat at the present-day location of Anchor Self Storage on Sonoma Boulevard. The river reached what’s now Curtola Parkway on the north, and spread as far east as Fifth Street, where it turned into a marshy connection to Lake Dalwigk. On the south side, the railroad tracks that cross Fifth Street near Solano Avenue once ran along the water’s edge to the old Sperry Mill area.

More acreage was added to Vallejo’s shoreline in the 1940s near the Mare Island causeway, and in the 1960s as part of a massive redevelopment project that resulted in Vallejo’s entire Lower Georgia Street business district being bulldozed. Many longtime Vallejoans can remember walking out on a pier over tideland to board ferries that ran to Mare Island. That tideland is now the seawall area where people can park cars, take a ferryboat to San Francisco, have a drink or dine out, or go for a stroll.

Before redevelopment, the original Vallejo Yacht Club building stood in the same location as the current building – but on pilings over tideland. Much of the fill dirt for this waterfront extension came from Vallejo’s historic York Street Hill – the site of California’s Capitol in 1852 and 1853. The hill was scraped flat and trucked to the nearby riverfront.

In addition to the shoreline work, nearly 500 acres of usable land were formed by levees and fill in a marshy area where Larwin Plaza, now Vallejo Plaza, was built in 1960, along Sonoma Boulevard on the north side of Vallejo. White Slough, which flows into the Napa River, is on the edge of this shopping center. Traces of the marsh once extended nearly to Tennessee Street, several blocks to the south.


Brendan Riley — Vallejo and other Solano County communities are treasure troves of early-day California history. My Solano Chronicles column, running every other Sunday, highlights various aspects of that history. If you have local stories or photos to share, message me on Facebook.

Solano Public Health data on Feb. 9: A new surge? Or just playing catch-up?

NOTE: The information below is not the latest.  TAP HERE for today’s latest information.

By Roger Straw, Wednesday, February 9, 2022

Solano County reported 2,794 new infections over the last two days!  Solano County and Benicia continue to experience an extremely high transmission rate!

Solano Public Health COVID dashboard, Wednesday, February 9, 2022:

DEATHS:  Solano reported no new deaths in today’s report.  Trending: Seven new deaths reported so far in February, all over 65 years of age.  The County has seen increasing COVID-related deaths each month since last November, rising to 30 in January.  (Compare with last winter: 24 deaths in January 2021, 42 in February and 33 in March.)  A total of 388 Solano residents have now died of COVID or COVID-related causes over the course of the pandemic.

CASES BY AGE GROUP: My color-coded chart (below) shows a record over TIME.  It shows an alarming steady increase among youth and children in Solano County.  The chart displays quarterly and recent snapshots in time by age group, each as a percentage of total cases since the outbreak began.  Increases are in red and decreases are in green as reported by Solano County.  Note the continuing increase among children & youth of Solano County.  The population of those age 0-17 in Solano County is roughly 22%.COMPARE – U.S. cases among children and youth aged 0-17 as percentage of total cases is 17.4% as of today.  (From the CDC covid-data-tracker.)

COMMUNITY TRANSMISSION RATE: Solano is experiencing an EXTREMELY HIGH transmission rate, with a total of 4,010 new cases over the last 7 days, a big jump from 1,763 at last report, and way up from around 500 at Christmastime.  CDC FORMULA: Based on Solano County’s population, 450 or more cases in 7 days places Solano in the CDC’s population-based definition of a HIGH transmission rate.  We would need to drop below 225 cases in 7 days to rate as having only MODERATE community transmission.

ACTIVE CASES: Solano’s 2,517 ACTIVE cases today is up from 2,308 at last report, and well over the 2,000 active cases we had at the New Year and only 329 on December 1.

CASES BY CITY – Wednesday, February 9, 2022:

  • BENICIA added 58 new cases today, a total of 2,922 cases since the outbreak began.  TRANSMISSION RATE: Benicia has seen 100 new infections in the last 7 days, far above the CDC’s HIGH rate of community transmission. For a city with Benicia’s population, anything over 27 cases in 7 days is considered HIGH TRANSMISSION. (See chart below.)  MASKS: >> At next week’s Benicia City Council meeting, (Tues., Feb. 15), Council will consider whether and how to continue the citywide face mask mandate, in light of the State of California’s announcement that it will lift the statewide mandate on Feb. 16. >>Note that the Benicia City Council is considering adding multiple metrics rather than the single metric of the CDC’s 7-day case count to determine when it is safe to lift certain COVID restrictions (see Benicia Chooses to Continue Mask Mandate, 1/19/22)Note above that Solano County is currently also experiencing EXTREMELY HIGH transmission.

  • Dixon added 62 new cases today, total of 4,020 cases.
  • Fairfield added 1,247(!) new cases today, total of 20,349 cases.
  • Rio Vista added 27 new cases today, total of 1,040 cases.
  • Suisun City added 302(!) new cases today, total of 5,379 cases.
  • Vacaville added 443 new cases today, a total of 18,706 cases.
  • Vallejo added 653 new cases today, a total of 24,051 cases.
  • Unincorporated added 2 new cases today, a total of 188 cases.

TEST RATE:  Solano County’s 7-Day Percent Positive Test Rate shot up after Christmas and has continued through today’s very high 19%, (although today’s report shows a drop from 21% at last report.)  SOLANO DOES NOT COMPARE FAVORABLY: The California 7-day % positive rate fell to 6.7% today.  [Source: Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Tracking Center]  The U.S. 7-day % positive rate also fell today to 13.63% from 15.85% at last report. [Source: CDC COVID Data Tracker.] 

HOSPITALIZATIONS:

CURRENT hospitalizations fell today from 87 to 80 persons.  Currently hospitalized persons in Solano peaked higher than ever before on Jan 22, at 207 persons in hospital. (The County’s previous high was 176 on Jan 7, 2021.)

TOTAL hospitalizations – Solano Public Health updated its age and race hospitalizations charts today, adding 1 Asian person, age 65+.  Our total since the beginning of the outbreak is now 3,512 hospitalizations.

ICU Bed Availability in Solano County remained steady today at 24% available, still in the Yellow danger zone.

Ventilator Availability  fell dramatically today from 64% to 51% available


HOW DOES TODAY’S REPORT COMPARE?  See recent reports and others going back to April 20, 2020 in my ARCHIVE of daily Solano COVID updates (an excel spreadsheet).


>The data on this page is from the Solano County COVID-19 Dashboard.  The Dashboard is full of much more information and updated Monday, Wednesday and Friday around 4 or 5pm.  On the County’s dashboard, you can hover a mouse or click on an item for more information.  Note the tabs at top for “Summary, Demographics” and “Vaccines.”  Click here to go to today’s Solano County Dashboard.

See also my BENINDY ARCHIVE of daily Solano COVID updates (an excel spreadsheet).  I have also archived the hundreds of full CORONAVIRUS REPORTS posted here almost daily on the Benicia Independent since April 2020.

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Solano COVID numbers: 3 new deaths and 452 new infections today

NOTE: The information below is not the latest.  TAP HERE for today’s latest information.

By Roger Straw, Monday, February 7, 2022

Solano County reported 452 new infections over the weekend, 3 new COVID-related deaths.  Solano County and Benicia continue to experience an extremely high transmission rate!

Solano Public Health COVID dashboard, Monday, February 7, 2022:

DEATHS:  Solano reported 3 new deaths in today’s report, all age 65+.  Trending: Seven new deaths reported in the 1st seven days of February, all over 65 years of age.  The County has seen increasing COVID-related deaths each month since last November, rising to 30 in January.  (Compare with last winter: 24 deaths in January 2021, 42 in February and 33 in March.)  A total of 388 Solano residents have now died of COVID or COVID-related causes over the course of the pandemic.

CASES BY AGE GROUP: My color-coded chart (below) shows a record over TIME.  It shows an alarming steady increase among youth and children in Solano County.  The chart displays quarterly and recent snapshots in time by age group, each as a percentage of total cases since the outbreak began.  Increases are in red and decreases are in green as reported by Solano County.  Note the continuing increase among children & youth of Solano County.  The population of those age 0-17 in Solano County is roughly 22%.COMPARE – U.S. cases among children and youth aged 0-17 as percentage of total cases is 17.2% as of today.  (From the CDC covid-data-tracker.)

COMMUNITY TRANSMISSION RATE: Solano is experiencing an EXTREMELY HIGH transmission rate, with a total of 1,763 new cases over the last 7 days, down from 3,066 last Friday and over 6100 the Friday before that – but still significantly up from around 500 at Christmastime.  CDC FORMULA: Based on Solano County’s population, 450 or more cases in 7 days places Solano in the CDC’s population-based definition of a HIGH transmission rate.  We would need to drop below 225 cases in 7 days to rate as having only MODERATE community transmission.

ACTIVE CASES: Solano’s 2,308 ACTIVE cases today is down from 3,658 at last report, but still above the 2,000 active cases we had at the New Year and only 329 on December 1.

CASES BY CITY – Monday, February 7, 2022:

  • Benicia added 15 new cases today, a total of 2,864 cases since the outbreak began.  Benicia has seen 60 new infections in the last 7 days, far above the CDC’s HIGH rate of community transmission. For a city with Benicia’s population, anything over 27 cases in 7 days is considered HIGH TRANSMISSION. (See chart below.) >>Note that the Benicia City Council is considering adding multiple metrics rather than the single metric of the CDC’s 7-day case count to determine when it is safe to lift certain COVID restrictions (see Benicia Chooses to Continue Mask Mandate, 1/19/22)Note above that Solano County is currently also experiencing EXTREMELY HIGH transmission.

  • Dixon added 34 new cases today, total of 3,958 cases.
  • Fairfield added 94 new cases today, total of 19,102 cases.
  • Rio Vista added 5 new cases today, total of 1,013 cases.
  • Suisun City added 26 new cases today, total of 5,077 cases.
  • Vacaville added 130 new cases today, a total of 18,263 cases.
  • Vallejo added 148 new cases today, a total of 23,398 cases.
  • Unincorporated added 0 new cases today, a total of 186 cases.

TEST RATE:  Solano County’s 7-Day Percent Positive Test Rate shot up after Christmas and has continued through today’s very high 21%, (although today’s report shows a drop from 26% at last report.)  SOLANO DOES NOT COMPARE FAVORABLY: The California 7-day % positive rate remained at 8.4% today.  [Source: Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Tracking Center]  The U.S. 7-day % positive rate also fell today to 15.85% from 17.09% at last report. [Source: CDC COVID Data Tracker.] 

HOSPITALIZATIONS:

CURRENT hospitalizations fell today from 99 to 87 persons, our lowest since January 7, 2022.  Currently hospitalized persons in Solano peaked higher than ever before on Jan 22, at 207 persons in hospital. (The County’s previous high was 176 on Jan 7, 2021.)

TOTAL hospitalizations – Solano Public Health did not update its age and race hospitalizations charts today.  Our total since the beginning of the outbreak is now 3,511 hospitalizations.

ICU Bed Availability in Solano County fell today from 24% at last report to 21% available today, still in the Yellow danger zone.

Ventilator Availability  remained at 64% available today


HOW DOES TODAY’S REPORT COMPARE?  See recent reports and others going back to April 20, 2020 in my ARCHIVE of daily Solano COVID updates (an excel spreadsheet).


>The data on this page is from the Solano County COVID-19 Dashboard.  The Dashboard is full of much more information and updated Monday, Wednesday and Friday around 4 or 5pm.  On the County’s dashboard, you can hover a mouse or click on an item for more information.  Note the tabs at top for “Summary, Demographics” and “Vaccines.”  Click here to go to today’s Solano County Dashboard.

See also my BENINDY ARCHIVE of daily Solano COVID updates (an excel spreadsheet).  I have also archived the hundreds of full CORONAVIRUS REPORTS posted here almost daily on the Benicia Independent since April 2020.

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