Justice! …..Big issues and questions left unanswered



Although the case is over, and the city has been found negligent in the killing of Tommy McClain, many questions still remain unanswered.   For instance, why was every single officer on scene the night of the killing promoted to a higher rank or specialty position?  Since the jury found negligence, and the “Civilian Advisory Committee” found no fault on the part of the officers, will policies within Eureka really be changed?  Will Captain Stephens, who lied repeatedly throughout this case, ever be held to answer for his responsibility in this killing?

Here at the Examiner we have mixed feelings about what has just transpired over the last week in the federal courthouse in McKinleyville. On one hand, we’re pleased and feel a sense of vindication that the City of Eureka – Eureka Police Department was found negligent in the death of Tommy McClain. On the other hand it leaves so many questions unanswered

Like: Where did they find the unloaded BB pistol? (The next day in a dresser in Tommy’s room?)  Why did they really choose to confront Tommy in the first place (since the person that Tommy supposedly confronted claims they never spoke)? What about the red paint on the BB pistol that Mills claimed was blood?  And the list could go on and on.

Although it’s good that the Jury found in the McClain families favor, we don’t think this verdict will really change the way EPD does business.  Without real changes internally, including getting rid of the bad apples like Captain Stephens and Training Officer Linfoot, more innocent civilians will be killed by EPD. In this case it was Justice for Tommy McClain, but in the future it could be Justice for….well…..you or your family member.


10 thoughts on “Justice! …..Big issues and questions left unanswered

  1. What I wrote the night of Thursday, Nov 17, 2016, after the 4th day of trial.

    The Eureka cops and their attorney have been trying to tell a story to justify the sudden and violent killing of Tommy McClain. Even if everything they said were true, which it is not, the shooting would still be excessive and wrong. The Eureka police story starts with them saying that on September 16, 2014, they were on a stake out looking for someone unrelated to Tommy McClain. This part is believable. The cops testify that they knew what the guy looked like, who they were trying to find- and that Tommy McClain looked nothing like him. Nothing was happening with regard to that stake-out situation; the apartment they were supposedly hiding to surveil, was dark and inactive. Cops say that around midnight, they saw a car pull up with people who clearly belonged to the apartment neighboring the one they were watching. The cops were not familiar with any of those people, including Tommy. (Tommy had never been in trouble). The cops claim that one of the 4 people in the car seemed drunk, but not Tommy. Tommy lived in that apartment with Nichole Mottern, her husband, also Tommy’s cousin, Josh, and the Motterns’ two young daughters. Tommy had been living with them, helping care for the girls when their parents were at work, working hard as a beginning roofer, and pitching in for rent, utilities and food. Nichole testified Wednesday that they were family, that they looked out for each other. Tommy’s mom testified that when she’d talk to him after he moved to this area, he was always happy.

    On the night of September 17, 2014, Tommy, Nichole, Josh, and Nichole’s cousin went out to celebrate Josh’s birthday. Nichole’s mom stayed with her granddaughters. They all had a really good time. Apparently, by the time the birthday celebrators arrived home, two EPD cops were hiding in the cemetery across from the apartments, another was in the alley behind the apartments, Sgt Stephens was in charge.

    Here is a report that KMUD’s Ama Tierney wrote on Thursday, November 17, 2016. She has been in the courtroom for most of the trial.

    In this excessive force and wrongful death trial, hearing the police and their experts’ testimonies, plus watching a short and horribly traumatic video from that night, reminds us that cops think that their lives are really the only ones worth protecting. It reminds us that police look at most of us as suspects- all the time- while they are trained to get away with as much violence or lying as they can. Officer Linfoot, before he shot Tommy 7 times, dangerously sped out of an alley and past the apartments, just to make his presence known. The cops claim they thought Tommy had a gun in his waistband, but Sgt. Stephens approached Tommy alone, in his own yard- with his gun drawn and trained on Tommy. Stephens shined a huge spotlight on the yard. The cops’ attorney has tried to indite Tommy for saying “What? I didn’t do anything. You don’t have the right to mess with me.”(or something to that effect). EVERY cop and witness testified that, once the cops started demanding Tommy put his hands up and yelled at him to come toward the sidewalk, Tommy put his hands up and walked where he was told, away from his home toward the sidewalk. He only got half way on the small yard when Linfoot shot him- only a second after Linfoot yelled “Get down!” How could Tommy get down with his hands up? How could he get down without his hands moving down some?

    The cops claim they thought Tommy put his hands down to grab a gun in his waistband. And that’s why Linfoot killed him. The cops have repeated this claim over and over during trial as if to drill it into the jury’s mind, believing, perhaps, that if you repeat something enough, people will think it’s true. But they don’t say Tommy even touched said gun when he was killed. They have never produced what they say was a replica BB gun. They say Stephens grabbed the BB gun from Tommy’s lifeless body on the lawn, but the media and police said nothing about recovering any kind of gun when Tommy was first killed. Unbelievable that EPD would have waited to talk about that after they just shot Tommy to death. Did they come up with the gun later, somewhere else, not with Tommy? Is their entire gun story fabricated? On the night this happened, none of the cops used their police radio (which would have been recorded communications) to alert other officers about any gun threat. They testified that they opted to use their cell phones. In any case, even if Tommy had a BB gun on his person, shooting Tommy McClain was excessive and wrong. Tommy was not doing anything to anyone, and when the police imposed themselves on him, in his yard, he continuously complied with their orders.

    Thursday, the cops brought as one of their “experts,” Alexander Jason, who testified that he specializes in reenactments of shooting scenarios and testifying on behalf of police who’ve shot someone. (Maybe one time, he couldn’t remember, he worked on behalf of someone who was not a cop.) Mr. Jason explained his analysis of the shots going into Tommy’s body. While he intended to defend the police actions, his description and opinions of where the shots went in, how Tommy’s body might have turned in response, where Tommy’s hands would have been, and how many shots Linfoot fired after Tommy was already motionless (no “threat”) only made the police story less credible and Linfoot’s shooting less justified. It was clearly excessive force and bad police practice. During Mr. Jason’s testimony, it was difficult to hear graphic details of how the bullets damaged Tommy’s body and took his life. During the trial, police would say things like, “I aimed for center mass” and “I could see the shots were effective,” technical language for deadly violence.

    The lawyer for Tommy’s family presented Roger Clark, an expert in police practices, tactics, use of force. He was a cop for many years and testified that one of the teams he trained had 2, 500 arrests in his last 5 years with them- with no shots fired (85% of the arrests were with multiple homicide suspects, many of them armed). Mr. Clark talked about the officers taking cover if they thought they were in danger, which they did not do here. Mr. Clark talked about the hypothetical situation of seeing a gun in someone’s waistband- how important clear commands are then. “Put up your hands.” “Don’t move.” would have been good in this scenario- clarity of communication, very productive. He went on to say with an officer’s sudden approach (here there was a spotlight, two visible guns pointing at Tommy), there is a moment of anxiety. That anxiety needs decompression which means the officer should deescalate what’s going on, have clarity of commands, no movement, and definitely not be the engine of moving things forward. From what the Eureka cops did here, Mr. Clark says they continually escalated, that when being held at gunpoint, as Tommy suddenly was, it is “catastrophic to be given multiple commands.” Until the time shots were fired, there were multiple officers yelling commands, asking for movement but not clearly. Mr. Clark said that Tommy asserting his rights was an opportunity for communication. He believes Linfoot overreacted and “none of the shots were justified” in his opinion. The use of force “expert” that the cops had testify, Don Cameron, lacks all credibility. He also testified for the cops in the wrongful death trial after the Eureka police beat Martin Cotton to death in 2007. It seems that Cameron’s role is to teach police how much violence they can get away with, then come to court and try to defend police misconduct and murder.

    We learned that the Eureka Police officers had a day and a half before they had to give a statement to police detectives (who work for EPD) about what happened to Tommy McClain. Apparently, even a cop who just shot and killed someone, is allowed time to go home, move about freely, take a whole day and night, get himself together, and then answer questions about what happened. Meanwhile, witness Nichole Mottern, the mother of two young children, who loved Tommy as her family, who (unlike the officers) had not harmed anyone, who had a police bullet shoot through her house, and who witnessed Tommy being shot to death in front of their home, was interviewed by police detectives at about 4am on September 17, 2014, just after being told that Tommy had died. In fact, EPD detectives were so intent on interviewing her right away, they questioned her in one of the hospital emergency rooms. Then a few hours later, they came to search Tommy’s room in the house. Nichole said on the stand, “Then and to this day, I think it should have been considered a murder.” Nichole also said that she was never asked for follow-up information. Nichole thought someone “should investigate because Tommy was trying to comply and still got shot.” She thinks about Tommy everyday and, in her mind, sees over and over again, Tommy being shot.

    Keep in mind, Tommy was not a suspect in any crime. He had done nothing illegal, and was standing on the porch of his own home when the police made a big scene around him. Within seconds of Officer Linfoot’s arrival, he shot Tommy repeatedly.

    The evidence part of the trial is done. On Friday, November 18, Judge Orrick will explain the jury instructions to the six jurors. Then the attorneys will make their closing arguments and the jurors will begin deliberations. Justice for Tommy McClain!!

    Saturday, Nov 19, 2016
    I have some thoughts on how the last day of trial went, some of the unacceptable conduct of the City and cops’ attorney in closing argument, about the jury deliberating until 5pm and then being done, about the verdict, and about Tommy’s family. I will write more over the weekend.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. From the post:

    “Since the jury found negligence, and the “Civilian Advisory Committee” found no fault on the part of the officers, will policies within Eureka really be changed?”

    That isn’t just A question that is THE question. Mills put together a fake advisory committee to give lip service to police accountability…all the while Eureka hides video of police encounters and Mills still claims his officers did nothing wrong in the McClain killing. EPD under Mills is an ineffective and dangerous police department, but the citizens of Eureka seem appeased that even with skyrocketing crime rates Mills still glad hands progressives in the community. Eureka is spiraling down, but it’s residents don’t seem to care enough to speak out.

    Liked by 3 people

    • On the money JP! What is it with the so called progressives in Eureka just accepting whatever BS Mills puts out.
      He bought off the local media by making Thad (NCJ) and Hank (LoCO) part of his innercircle of advisors. Worse yet is LoCO’s Rhonda Parker who writes nothing more PR fluff for EPD


      • If by “Thad” you mean Thadeus who has taken it upon himself in federal courts to have the video of a police officer using excessive force while arresting a 14 year old child (as deemed by the department itself) then it’s hard to say he’s a shill for the department. Rhonda Parker’s court reporting was severely lacking in details in a way that unquestionably favors the hear-say of the police involved in the negligent homicide. She didn’t even include contradictory statements by witnesses including the man in the pickup truck whom Tommy encountered prior to being killed, which the officers claimed was the initial reason they decided to turn their attention toward Tommy. I’m thoroughly disgusted with Rhonda Parker’s lack of journalistic integrity involving the case. The Lost Coast Outpost has been nothing but complicit with her highly bias reporting.


      • I do mean that Thad. The case you’re referring to happen before Mills on Murl’s watch.(btw was dismiss) Yes I am saying Thad has been bought off by Mills when he put him on his phoney advisory committee. Very inappropriate for a journalist to serve on such a committee.
        Where the investigative reporting on Mill’s EPD? …….crickets.
        See that’s my point, Nothing.


  3. Good job staying after this tragic unjustified killing TE. You called it right from the beginning.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Eureka is a cesspool of crime and citizen apathy. Mills gets a free pass because people aren’t vocal and active. Squeaky wheel is the old saying, but it really holds some weight! Tommy McClain was killed unlawfully by EPD…a jury has rendered a verdict…yet Mills blames the victim. Outrageous, yet no protests or even letters to the city council. Shame on you Eureka.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Unjustified, Unlawful, excessive force, lawful murder/homicide, tampering evidence, protecting the criminals not the innocent, no charges against a cop from a DA that was on his way out, judges justifying their actions, juror listening to what they were there for instead of evidence showed. There is a win, but for who? My nephew deserved Justice, instead can’t take it to an appellate court, out of the county, no DOJ investagation??? Murder is murder regardless of title and helping cover their ass’ should also be considered an accompliss to a homicide as if they were people also. Use a gun and your done 10-20-life…isn’t that how it goes????


      Liked by 1 person

    • “Where the investigative reporting on Mill’s EPD? …….crickets.
      See that’s my point, Nothing.”

      you’re absolutely right, and i’m very disappointed in our local journalists about it, to say the least. i hadn’t thought about that with regards to thadeus nor did i know he was on a specially selected police liason team of some sort. but your inclusion of partisan politics is way off.


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