Group wants Contra Costa sheriff’s disciplinary practices probed

By Tony Hicks, Bay City News Foundation

CONTRA COSTA COUNTY, CA – The California Prosecutors Alliance has asked the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors to audit the disciplinary practices of Sheriff David Livingston’s department and increase outside oversight of alleged departmental misconduct.

The request follows an email Livingston sent to his department following the March 3 sentencing of Contra Costa Congressman Andrew Hall, who was sentenced to six years in prison after being convicted of assault with a firearm in the 2018 murder of unarmed motorist Laudemer Arboleda. in Danville.

Hall — then an officer in Danville, who contracts with the Contra Costa Sheriff’s Office for the police department — also shot and killed Tyrell Wilson in 2021, after seeing the homeless man holding a pocket knife. The county paid a total of $9.4 in settlement money to the two families, although the second murder is still under investigation.

In the email, Livingston wrote that Hall “served with honor and distinction” and “After a thorough internal investigation, he was found to be in compliance with department policy when forced to use a lethal force to protect himself and others on that fateful day. I was proud to support him publicly and privately after the events of November 3, 2018, and I support him today.”

“For our district attorney to charge a deputy sheriff, or any peace officer, with a crime based on a split-second tactical decision is abhorrent,” Livingston wrote. “It’s even more heinous that this same district attorney later reposted photos on her re-election campaign social media that show her smiling and proclaiming she ‘charged the officer.'”

The California Prosecutors Alliance said Monday it had sent a letter to the County Board of Supervisors, saying Livingston’s remarks suggested “he believes his deputies are above the law, raising serious concerns.” concerns about the legitimacy of an internal affairs investigation into former deputy Andrew Hall and how the sheriff punishes officers who abuse their authority.”

“Sheriff Livingston’s comments are abhorrent and indicate his belief that deputies who kill are above the law,” Cristine Soto DeBerry, the group’s founder and executive director, said in a statement. “Police have wide latitude to use force, but when they kill unnecessarily they need to be held accountable, just like everyone else in our community. When we don’t hold the police accountable, people don’t do not trust the justice system to protect them. This makes the job of policing more difficult and dangerous, and it makes it much less likely that crimes will be reported. This, in turn, poses a threat to everyone’s safety. .

Livingston responded to the allegations on Monday, writing in an email “The so-called ‘Alliance of Prosecutors’ committee is made up of just four of the state’s 58 prosecutors. Contra Costa is not San Francisco or Los Angeles where two of their far-left founding members serve. Instead of playing politics here, they should do their job and prosecute offenders and start dealing with victims of crime for once.

The alliance also said Hall’s conviction for a shooting that Livingston’s department deemed lawful “raises serious questions about the sheriff’s commitment to public safety and accountability.”

“DA Becton bravely charged Constable Hall with Mr. Arboleda’s death, a jury found him guilty and a judge sentenced him to jail,” DeBerry said. “Sheriff Livingston should accept the jury’s verdict and seek ways to reduce the unnecessary use of force by his deputies rather than question the prosecutor’s decision to press charges and defiantly proclaim that he ‘has the backs’ of the officers when a jury determined the force to be criminal.”

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