The Attorneys representing the family of Daren Borges responded to the recent press release by DA Maggie Fleming. In the response, they laid out some of the very clear and troubling aspects regarding DA Fleming’s decision not to file criminal charges against the officers and correctional staff involved in the death of Mr. Borges. Unfortunately, in cases and the subsequent investigations of in custody deaths, 99% of the time the “fox is guarding the hen house”, so to speak. For instance, the County of Humboldt is being sued by the Borges family. Obviously, this is the same County that signs DA Fleming s pay checks. Also, Fleming has to work hand in hand with the agencies being investigated in order to prosecute criminals. There’s obviously a built in bias/relationship between the investigator and the officers to be investigated. We wonder; is that why it took almost a year to actually investigate the death of Daren?
On a related topic, but not one that was broached by the attorneys for the Borges family, how will the consolidation of the HCSO and Coroner’s Office effect the investigations into law enforcement killings in Humboldt? We would tend to think things will be even less transparent and less diligently looked into (which is pretty scary since the prior investigations with an “independent” coroner were pretty shoddy to begin with). After all, if someone dies in the jail the first name on a lawsuit will be Sheriff Coroner XXXXXX (for now it’s Downey, later on it will be someone else). On a practical level, would the Sheriff Coroner really want to dig into “in custody deaths” and find out that he is liable for a claim? And if he/she did do a thorough job, would he/she want to hand over that information so that they could lose their house, or pension, or ski boat? Our guess is that finding a person willing to take responsibility for their agencies actions and be honest with the families of victims, would be harder than finding a needle in a haystack. It’s possible, but hasn’t been seen around here in a long time.
Below is the response by the Attorney’s for the Borges family, provided by the North Coast Journal: