Category Archives: Citizen Oversight Board

Finally! Solano County Supervisors schedule discussion on Sheriff oversight board

Solano supervisors to discuss possible new oversight of sheriff’s office

JohnGlidden.com, by Scott Morris, Aug. 30, 2021
Solano County Sheriff Tom Ferrara

VALLEJO – The Solano County Board of Supervisors will have a discussion in September or October about possibly instituting a new oversight board of the Solano County Sheriff’s Office.

Such a board would be authorized under new state legislation passed last year that allows the supervisors to create an oversight board with subpoena power. Members of Benicia Black Lives Matter pushed for oversight following revelations that members of the sheriff’s office posted symbols associated with the Three Percenter anti-government group on social media.

Only Supervisor Monica Brown of Benicia supported even discussing an oversight board in previous meetings, but to add an item to the agenda requires two supervisors’ support. On Tuesday, Brown made a motion to agendize the discussion again and Supervisor Erin Hannigan supported it. Brown said there could be a meeting on the issue on Sept. 28 or Oct. 5.

Hannigan did not respond to questions about why she changed her mind about the discussion. But a new federal civil rights lawsuit filed in August alleged that sheriff’s deputies beat a Black woman unconscious for no reason during an encounter over mismatched license plates and then lied about it in reports. The sheriff’s office contends that the woman struck a deputy in the face, but body camera video doesn’t corroborate that statement.

“We’re happy, but why did it take a Black woman getting beaten unconscious for the board to take our request seriously enough to put the item on the agenda?” said Benicia Black Lives Matter co-founder Nimat Grantham. “Erin was the first person who I would expect to second that motion and she never did until now.”

Following revelations in February that members of the sheriff’s office had posted Three Percenter symbols on social media, members of Benicia Black Lives Matter wrote letters to the sheriff demanding an investigation and requested that the county’s civil grand jury take up the issue. Sheriff Tom Ferrara responded by saying that the FBI had cleared his deputies of any extremist affiliations, which the FBI disputed.

Then in April, members of Benicia Black Lives Matter called in to a Board of Supervisors meeting asking for the supervisors to institute new oversight of the sheriff’s office under AB 1185. But when Brown moved to add the discussion to the agenda in a future meeting, none of the other supervisors would support it.


Benicia Black Lives Matter continued to call in to meetings pushing for new oversight. During a meeting on May 4, the supervisors cut off Benicia Black Lives Matter co-founder Brandon Greene. Later, Solano County Republicans organized in opposition to the push for oversight, asking people to call in but not identify themselves as Republicans.

The allegations that sheriff’s deputies beat a Black woman unconscious and then lied about it in reports have renewed calls for oversight of the sheriff’s office. On Tuesday, NAACP Tri-City branch president Johnicon George called in to the Board of Supervisors meeting and said he was “disturbed” by video of the incident and “disappointed” that the supervisors have refused to have any discussion about oversight.

“I’m not confident that this body respects and cares about the African American community in Solano County,” he said, pointing out that the supervisors, none of whom are Black, also declined to institute diversity training for themselves.

Any oversight discussion would be unlikely to succeed as the three men on the board, one of whom is a former sheriff’s lieutenant, each have already endorsed Ferrara’s reelection as sheriff.

Grantham said that would not deter her or Benicia Black Lives Matter from continuing to push for oversight. “It’s probably going to be a fight, it’s going to take a lot of effort to get an oversight board or even a citizens’ advisory board,” she said. “But it’s just like when they were trying to desegregate the schools in the south and Gov. George Wallace was saying ‘over my dead body’ – it seemed impossible but it took a lot of effort.”


Scott Morris is an independent journalist in Oakland covering policing, protest and civil rights. If you appreciate his work please consider making a contribution.

Solano Sheriff Deputies Knocked A Woman Unconscious And Then Lied About It, A Federal Lawsuit Says

[Editor: Here’s ANOTHER good reason for a Solano County Sheriff Oversight Board.  County Supervisors, please take action!  Oh, and… let’s elect a new Sheriff in 2022.  – R.S.]

‘I think she’s out,’ Solano Sheriff deputy says after violent arrest

Associated Press, by Christopher Weber, August 18, 2021
Joe Powell is comforted by his daughter, Nakia Porter, right, during a news conference to announce the filing of a federal lawsuit brought against two Solano County Sheriff’s deputies, Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2021, in Sacramento, Calif. The lawsuit stems from an incident where the pair, and Porter’s three daughters, had pulled over on the side of the road in Dixon on Aug. 6, 2020, so Powell could take over the driving from his daughter. As they were stopped the two deputies’ squad car pulled up behind and confronted Porter and her father and eventually knocked Porter unconscious and arrested her, then later lied about the incident. The suit accuses the deputies of violating state federal civil rights statutes by engaging in “unlawful seizure, assault and excessive force.” (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

A woman who pulled off a road to change drivers during a trip with her father and three young children was knocked unconscious and arrested by two Northern California sheriff’s deputies, who then lied about the encounter to responding paramedics and on official reports, according to a federal lawsuit filed Wednesday.

Body cameras worn by the deputies with the Solano County Sheriff’s Office recorded them pulling guns on Nakia Porter before slamming her to the pavement while handcuffing her along a rural road in the town of Dixon on the night of Aug. 6, 2020. Porter’s father, Joe Powell, was also placed in handcuffs and briefly detained.

Porter was jailed overnight on suspicion of resisting arrest, but never charged. She said the ordeal was confusing and dehumanizing.

“I was doing my best to do everything right, giving no reason to be treated like this,” said Porter, 33, who is Black.

The lawsuit brought by attorney Yasin Almadani accuses the deputies of violating state and federal civil rights statutes by engaging in “unlawful seizure, assault and excessive force.”

“Thankfully, the video evidence contradicted the fabricated facts,” Almadani said. “So what occurred here, we believe, was a racially motivated beating and terrorizing of a Black family.”

Solano County sheriff’s officials couldn’t immediately comment because the department hadn’t received a copy of the complaint by Wednesday afternoon, Sgt. Christine Castillo said in an email.

The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Sacramento asks a judge to order a jury trial for the arresting deputies, Dalton McCampbell and Lisa McDowell, and seeks unspecified damages.

The events unfolded as Porter and her 61-year-old father were making the 100-mile (160-kilometer) drive home to Orangevale, northeast of Sacramento, after a family trip to Oakland. Her two daughters, ages 3 and 6, and her 4-year-old niece were in the back seat. Porter is a software engineer, and her father, who’s retired, worked in computer networking.

Porter was behind the wheel when they stopped along an empty road in Dixon. The deputies’ squad car pulled up behind them with lights flashing. Porter already was out of the car and explained that they were just switching drivers and would be on their way, according to the court filing.

The deputies said they noticed the car had mismatched license plates — a California plate on the back of the car, and one from Maryland on the front.

“However, the deputies had called in the rear license plate to their dispatch and knew that it matched the description of the car and that there was no report of the car being stolen,” the filing states.

McCampbell, who had his gun drawn, ordered Porter back to the driver’s side, and he and his partner moved to detain her, according to edited bodycam footage acquired by Almadani and provided to The Associated Press. Almadani acquired more than 18 minutes of raw footage through a California Public Records Act request, and edited it down to just under 10 minutes.

“For those that are listening, I am not resisting,” Porter said into the deputies’ cameras. “You are not reading me my rights.”

The deputies pushed Porter against the squad car and then to the pavement while trying to handcuff her.

“Put your hands behind your back. Get on your stomach,” McCampbell shouted.

The footage gets very shaky, and it’s hard to see whether Porter is resisting. Porter and the court filing allege the deputies punched her in the head and the stomach, kneeled on her back and pulled her hair. She said she passed out seconds after the deputies closed the handcuffs.

“I think she’s out,” McCambell said on the video.

Porter, who is 5-foot-2 (1.6 meters) and 125 pounds (57 kilograms), said she was dragged unconscious to the back of the squad car, where she came to about five minutes later.

When paramedics arrived, McCampbell is heard saying Porter fought them, was knocked out for about 20 seconds and was able to walk herself to the squad car. McDowell estimates to the paramedics that Porter was unconscious for about five seconds.

Porter requested she be transported to a hospital, according to the lawsuit.

“Deputies McCampbell and McDowell denied the request, continuing to lie to the paramedics by minimizing the assault and the injuries they had inflicted on Ms. Porter,” the court filing said.

The lawsuit accuses the deputies of lying on their arrest reports about Porter fighting them and the length of time she was unconscious. Contact information for McCampbell and McDowell could not be found.

The suit also names a superior officer who signed off on the reports.

Cedric Alexander, a police use-of-force expert, was troubled by the video. He wondered why the deputies seemed to rush to detain Porter and Powell without first taking actions to de-escalate the situation, especially with three young kids in the car.

“What’s concerning here is the use of force,” said Alexander, a former president of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives. “There needs to be a full investigation conducted outside of the sheriff’s department, preferably by a district attorney’s office.”

Open Letter to Solano Supervisors: Call for a Civilian Oversight Board for Sheriff Department

Civilian Oversight for Sheriff’s Department

Open letter by Jean Walker, May 30, 2021
Jean Walker, Benicia

On September 22nd, 2020, the Solano County Board of Supervisors listened to our county’s employees as they described how Solano County’s hiring and promotions system was bogged down by institutional racism. After much discussion, the Board, on a 5-0 vote, created a Subcommittee on Diversity and Equity. On a 3-2 vote, the Board approved funding of $150,000 to support the work of the Subcommittee.

The members of the Subcommittee on Diversity and Equity, including chair Erin Hannigan and Board Chair John Vasquez, have most likely met a few times since last year. I imagine the Subcommittee has hired an equity consultant, as planned, to assist with the process of focusing on internal human resources operations and delivering equitable services to the County’s residents.

As a constituent I am pleased to see that when an important issue like institutional racism in the County’s hiring practices must be addressed, the Board is capable of coming together as a team.

The Board of Supervisors now has another opportunity, via Assembly Bill 1185, to create a Citizens’ Oversight Board for the Sheriff’s Office.

Civilian oversight benefits the public AND benefits police and sheriff’s departments, by …

    • Improving community relations through more open communication between the Sheriff’s Office and the public;
    • Reassuring the community that misconduct is investigated, and that appropriate discipline and training will occur;
    • Increasing the public’s understanding of law enforcement policies and procedures;
    • Improving those policies and procedures; and
    • Assessing liability management, thereby reducing the likelihood and cost of litigation.

Please, Supervisor Brown, I hope you will once again raise the motion to agendize the proposal of discussing a Civilian Oversight Board. I hope one of the two members of the Diversity and Equity Subcommittee will be a good team member and second Supervisor Brown’s motion.

Jean Walker
Benicia