Just before the Board meeting this Tuesday, I went out to my car for a few things, and recognized Larry Glass. "What have you been doing with yourself?" I asked him. He said that he has been trying to keep under the radar, since he sold his business, and is no longer involved with politics in Eureka. He said that he intended to go to the Board meeting. I told him to go right in, a few members were already there, and the meeting hadn't started yet.
Larry told the Board that he was very upset about the last police shooting incident, in which Tommy McClain was shot by police because he possessed an unloaded BB replica handgun. (see North Coast Journal, http://www.northcoastjournal.com/Blogthing/archives/2014/09/17/eureka-police-shoot-kill-suspect) Larry said that he feels qualified to raise questions about the actions of the police because he was trained in a police academy in Los Angeles, and worked for several years with teenage gangs.
The investigation of the incident is ongoing, but Larry sees a lot of red flags appearing out of the information that is publicly available. (see Justice for Tommy McClain, https://www.facebook.com/JusticeForTommy) He believes that the officers involved did not follow police procedures, and that there are glaring discrepancies between how they reported the incident, and what relatives of Tommy McClain are saying.
According to Tommy's relatives, Tommy was upset about the activities of the neighbors next door. The house was in fact, being watched by police for drugs and other criminal activity. The police observed Tommy arguing with one of these neighbors, and reported that they saw that he had a gun.
Larry feels that the officer in charge was irresponsible for leaving his car, not turning on the camera, and approaching Tommy on foot, and drawing his own weapon unnecessarily. If he felt that McClain was dangerous, he would have approached him more carefully. It is unlikely that McClain would make a grab for his own gun, since it was unloaded. Since the camera was turned off, the officer's statements are less likely to be challenged. But their actions as police officers was questionable, to anyone familiar with established police practices, Larry asserts.
Greg Allen, Chairman, told Larry that the ACLU Board has been discussing the value of police body cameras, and that we are advocating their use in this area. Mr.Glass said that he agreed that body cams would be very effective for preventing a lot police violence, and would lend his name to our effort to advocate their use. Peter Martin, Board member, said that the Eureka Police department has already lost a lot of money to victims of police killings, and stands to lose its current insurer after an incident such as this. The adoption of police body cams might become necessary to retain this insurance, he concluded.
--Steven Bridenbaugh, Redwood ACLU Board member