SAN BERNARDINO’S FINANCIAL CRISIS
Ryan Hagen and Andrew Edwards, Staff Writers
Posted: 08/02/2012 08:11:19 PM PDT
Related story: Citizens group discusses San Bernardino bankruptcy
Photo gallery: San Bernardino officially files for bankruptcy
“He was moving to execute, and had the judge taken action the city wouldn’t have been able to make its next payroll,” said City Attorney James F. Penman. “Bankruptcy protection prevents him from seizing our assets.”
In addition to three cases alleging excessive force, which Penman declined to elaborate on, he said another creditor had begun trying to seize machinery from the city last week.
Woodland Hills-based attorney Dale Galipo said he tried to get the judge to force payment or prioritize settlement payments in the three police cases – which the city, plaintiffs and judge had agreed to at various points over the past year – because he wanted to make sure his clients were paid.
“In our judicial system, we operate in good faith,” Galipo said. “I’m very disappointed, and I’m very concerned for my clients, and I’m trying to do everything to make sure they get what was agreed to.”
Galipo said the city agreed to pay the families of Cedric May, Jerriel Da’Shawn Allen and Terry Wayne Nash $525,000, $575,000 and $686,000 respectively.
The city already paid $325,000 in the May case, he said.
A closer look at the three cases follows:
Police shot May in 2009, and reported at the time that May grabbed an officer’s genitals and Taser while fighting with police.
The shooting happened the night May’s family had a barbecue to celebrate his release from jail the previous day. Family members said at the time that contrary to police statements, he was shot after being handcuffed.
Allen was 19 when he was shot by officers after a chase in which a vehicle crashed through three backyard fences.
He was a passenger in a Chevrolet Tahoe that reportedly ran a stop sign, then kicked up dust, making it difficult for officers to see.
Officers say they had heard someone yell “shoot ‘em, shoot ‘em,” and saw Allen look at officers with his hands hidden.
Allen was later determined to be unarmed and reaching for his marijuana.
Nash, also known as Terry Jackson, died in police custody in 2011 after a Taser was repeatedly used on him.
Officers said Nash, a 250-pound 22-year-old who reportedly had paranoid schizophrenia and was under the influence of methamphetamine and marijuana, continued struggling even while they were waiting for an ambulance.
A federal jury in Los Angeles determined police were unnecessarily rough and improperly denied medical aid on the scene.
The city’s delay of payments may backfire, Galipo said.
“This bankruptcy may not last forever, and two or three years from now, I may be asking a jury for 3 or 4 million dollars,” he said. “(City officials) may say they should have been more reasonable now.”
But the decision to file an emergency bankruptcy petition may help City Hall if any creditors challenge San Bernardino’s eligibility for bankruptcy protection, said attorney Michael Sweet of the San Francisco offices of Fox Rothschild.
Sweet, who advised officials in the Bay Area city of Richmond on a plan to avert a bankruptcy filing, said bankruptcy law makes it easier for debtors to file a case without going through a mediation process with their creditors if the debtor could lose money in a court judgement.
To read entire story, click here.