The ugly truth about EPD

Eureka Police department has been likened to a pit of vipers by some, Look back over the years of posts we have had about EPD and particularly around the murder of Tommy McClain and cover up that followed. We have always pointed out how corrupt and duplicitous this department has been since the ouster of reformist Chief Garr Neilson

Has anything really changed at EPD?


Here’s a very recent “updated” recruitment video starring “Dirty” Sanchez“, his Brother in Law “Go back to the reservation” Goodale and his BFF/Academy classmate Captain “get away with murder” Stephens. 
In the background you can hear current Chief Watson lauding the POP team.  
Come on Chief Watson it’s time to fully clean your infested house

There is much more to come out about this scandal! The Sacramento Bee reporter is in Eureka conducting more interviews as we write this.

Don’t forget, keep sending us your tips:

MSNBC canonizes former EPD chief Andrew (andy) Mills, then the Local media follows suit, disgusting

Holy Trinity pictured here: Murderer Stephens, double murderer and newly promoted Liles and Saint Mills

A few of our readers recently sent us emails wondering why we hadn’t responded to the media lovefest of former EPD Chief Andy Mills. He took a knee in the recent protests against police violence, which he quickly used to try to get some good press coming his way. Here’s our simple answer, we have been receiving so much info regarding a recent lawsuit against Mills and Santa Cruz that we tried to ignore Mills Silver Tongued BS in the press. You see, we never once thought Mills supported people of color and especially ‘Black Lives’:

Mills isn’t just someone who spins the truth, he was and still is a damn good liar. Back in 2017, when he started at Santa Cruz, he heard from multiple women who had been sexually assaulted by a long term police officer, union leader, and good-old-boy friend of the department. Mills didn’t believe the women, or if he did he didn’t care about their pain or pleas for help. However, an independent outside investigation was started and the sexual predator that Mills supported was arrested for….surprise surprise…..sexually assaulting multiple female officers! Here’s a quick rundown of the lawsuit currently against Mills and Santa Cruz PD.

Ex-Santa Cruz cop sues city, police

Mills is still a liar who will use any situation for his own political gain. However, we’ll never forget the murder of Tommy McClain, and how Mills promoted the supervisor in charge of this debacle Brian Stephens to Captian.
We will update readers as to the lawsuit against Mills for failing to protect female cops from being raped by his good friend at Santa Cruz PD.

As a side note of history, prior to being hired by Santa Cruz, Mill’s wife was sexually assaulted by a former EPD Sergeant, now current EPD Captain. It happened at the wedding where that Captain was getting married. In the sick world of white male-dominated policing, being drunk and touching the intimate parts of women against those women’s will was and apparently still is a part of the culture Mills supported. Mills must have thought it was funny when that Sergeant grabbed on to Mrs. Mills intimate parts, in front of numerous employees at EPD, while that Sergeant made comments about never having felt silicon breasts. Mills must have supported that behavior since that supervisor was never disciplined and everyone in the department heard about the incident. Everyone working at EPD knew of the incident, so why would Santa Cruz be surprised that Mills sometimes overlooks sexual violence against women if it helps him politically? We’re sure those questions will be answered in the court proceedings against Mills…unless Santa Cruz settles and sweeps this case under the rug.


It’s been 3 years and we still won’t shut up about the murder on Allard ave

It’s been 3 years since hard working young Eureka resident Tommy McClain was gun down in his own front yard.
The staff at The Examiner had high hopes for the Truth to come out in the federal civil rights trial.
In a real tragic miscarriage of justice, the judge in the case disallowed witnesses and suppressed evidence that would have undoubtedly changed the final verdict.
The McClain family is understandably dissatisfied with the way evidence was suppressed and feel let down by their attorneys. 

Here is Tommy’s aunt speaking for the family:

We have always been skeptical about Tommy having a BB gun tucked in his waistband when the officers confronted him, but what we found has validated our disbelief! We were given the investigation files, that were previously withheld from us before.  In the files, we found a receipt, for a Walther CP99 ordered by Todd Wilcox with the address of the Eureka’s police department underneath his name. There’s a 7-page report written up by Todd Wilcox on page 6 of his report, he states that he attempts to purchase a BB device of the same make and model as item T1; referring to the alleged replica taken off Tommy. However, Wilcox was unable to order the make and mobile but he does order a Umarex CP99 compact from the Amazon Internet shopping site.

My brother and I, along with our friend, Robin, had made the 8-hour drive up to Eureka to pick up Tommy’s belongings from the Eureka’s police department. Officer O’Neill handed me a box with a replica blood stained BB gun inside. It was not Walter PPQ Mills previously reported at the press conference October 1, 2014,  In the box, was a BB device, embossed with the brand name Umarex and mobile name CP99 compact, which described the one that was ordered from Amazon.

The Eureka Police Department investigated their own officers, documented and falsified evidence to cover up their wrongdoings.

Mr. Galipo had this information and did nothing with it, so instead of fighting for Tommy and our family, he throws the whole case under the bus.  It’s not just my opinion; I have the receipt, the reports, and the BB gun.   Just thought that you would like to know.

Respectfully Jamie Bowman.

Nobody is safe, in the city of Eureka, NOBODY

With the real possibility of Captain Stephens the officer in charge of the whole Tommy McClain negligent killing debacle being named police chief, we present the following Guest Post from Robin Christofferson:

There’s a lot that the public was never told about the murder of Tommy McClain. For instance, he never got into an argument with the kid in the black truck. I myself have read the kids statement, and he said Tommy never said a word to him. And I also went to the trial, and that was what the whole entire trial was based on, that Tommy got in an argument with that kid. So that’s why they approached Tommy in the first place. That and they said he had a gun. Not true. First off if you’re a cop and your hiding in the back of a cemetery… in the world could you hear an argument, then see a gun…and hear the sound of a gun being racked? I’m pretty sure officer McElroy doesn’t have superpowers, but yet the jury believed him. Probably because of the kid in the black truck…nobody saw his statement…because if they did…then I’m pretty sure that the outcome of that civil trial…would have led to criminal charges. But now the trail is over, Tommy’s family have been given “the box” and in it is the truth. This family I love as my own. And they Will never give up…..until the truth about that night comes out. And that will be soon. But until then…nobody is safe, in the city of Eureka Ca. Nobody.

Note from the Examiner: The McClain family’s legal counsel was never allowed by the Judge to completely present its whole case with its witnesses or evidence to challenge the basic premise of this failed enforcement action.
Federal Judges in these type civil cases have broad discretion as to what they will allow or not allow into evidence. In this case, a number of these decisions made by the Judge were very helpful to the accused Police officers and basically cut the legs out from under the McClain family’s case.

We would also bring to your attention that the statements of witnesses and family members have remained consistent from the beginning, while the EPD changed their story several times early on.

The Checkered regime of Chief Andy Mills at EPD draws to a close

Local press about his departure:


During Mills three and half years tenure as Eureka Police Chief, we found ourselves the lead critical voice for his actions and public statements. We had less concern about is announced policy goals, all though we weren’t always on board.

In our minds, the most egregious incident was the negligent killing of Tommy McClain and the way Mills defamed Tommy and promoted the officers directly involved in the killing.

Here are some prime examples of our coverage of Mills at the EPD:

McClain shooter, Stephen Linfoot, is rewarded by Mills Seven months ago, when the innocent young Tommy McClain was gunned down in his own front yard, the media, for the most part, gave EPD and Chief Mills a pass. Regular citizens were left horrified and bewildered. We at the Examiner began asking lots of questions. We […]

As the crime wave in Eureka continues, EPD Chief Andy Mills continues to try keeping all of our heads buried in the sand. A look at the Eureka Police website shows that EPD has only 2 official press releases this year; “Operation Safe Tweets” and “Neighborhood Input Meetings”. A look through the older press releases […]

Good thing for them this picture is cropped at the elbows or you’d be able to see the blood on their hands   When you look at the above picture, you see (from left to right) Captain Brian Stephens, Sergeant Terrence Liles, and Chief Andy Mills.  Besides, the uniform these men all share a […]

In fact, his spin control has been so effective the local media is just making up “fact’s” to support the out of control shooting spree by EPD in Downtown Eureka. Over New Years, this caught our attention; KRCR ch 7 redding, their Eureka affiliate Northcoast News 23, featured this as one of its top […]

The Tommy McClain wrongful death trial is set to start on Nov. 17 the Federal Courthouse in McKinleyville, in Humboldt County, 13 miles north of Eureka. (The Examiner is looking for volunteer witness/reporters) Upon hearing the news about EPD and the City of Eureka’s trial date for the wrongful death of Tommy McClain, […]

Take a seat everyone, we’ve got big news.  According to the crime “statistics” provided by the Eureka Police Department, violent crime is up (DUH!) and property crime is down (WTF!).  What could have caused this sudden drop in property crime that isn’t reflected in anybody’s personal experience that lives or works in Eureka?  We’ll give […]


No justice……..just a promotion

Guest post from Lance McClain:

Still there will be no justice for my son Tommy mcclain. As I sit here still dealing with my life without my son, life goes on for everybody else. IF only everybody knew what really happened, how we got thrown under the bus by our own attorney, how we were sold out. The papers say that the Mcclain family found this case a win? <strong>Far from the truth</strong>. Everything that was said, wass all a lie. Now I read that the case was dismissed by the Mcclain family for a money judgement? All a lie.
I still have no interest in any kind of money they want to offer. I want that cop to be held for his actions. That’s what the Mcclain family wants.
Still to this day. The courts in this case are corrupt. Just as much as the lawyers are, so many things were never brought up in court that could have proved my son Tommy had nothing to do with his own death. But, nothing was ever said. The person in the truck that the police claim had a confrontation with tommy. All a lie. Never was there a conversation between Tommy and that person. They made the hole story up, but yet our attorney never said nothing. Let them run with that lie. The defence made there hole case up on a lie and got away with it. I can go on and tell you every lie they made but it won’t get me anywhere. There is no J in justice, just like there ain’t no son in my life.

Meet the NEW EPD……same as the old EPD with Mills fooling everybody


photo Jose Quezada for the times-standard

Good thing for them this picture is cropped at the elbows or you’d be able to see the blood on their hands


When you look at the above picture, you see (from left to right) Captain Brian Stephens, Sergeant Terrence Liles, and Chief Andy Mills.  Besides, the uniform these men all share a common background. All of these men are former (or current) SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics) Officers,

Captain Brian Stephens was a SWAT team member during the “glory days” of EPD’s about a decade ago when there was a whole string of shootings.  Although he wasn’t there for the Cheri Moore murder, he was around for other operations that resulted in the deaths of citizens.  Most recently, Stephens was in command while Tommy McClain was recklessly gunned down by EPD.

Sergeant Terrence Liles was the shooter in the questionable killings of teenagers Christopher Burgess and Zach Cooke.  Liles is notorious for bar fights in Old Town and spoke out against former progressive Chief Garr Neilsen during the EPD insurrection that was orchestrated by the “Old Guard” at EPD and spearheaded by EPD’s SWAT Team and the dispatchers they were married to or “dating”!

Chief Andrew Mills was a SWAT Commander who oversaw missions which resulted in the killing of numerous citizens in San Diego.  A SWAT man through and through, Chief Mills has continued to reshape EPD back into the Agency it once was, prior to the public outcry that resulted in the hiring of a  “progressive” police chief, Garr Neilsen.

So now its very clear that the new standard for EPD is really just the old standard.  Mayor Jager is overjoyed, along with Murl Harpham and others that had been so worried about their department becoming less macho (the old saying around the copshop was “we’re EPD we kick ass”) and actually practicing modern policing techniques. Nothing to worry about Boy’s!  Your department is safely back in the hands of SWAT, and the criminals (along with regular citizens) are still afraid that they may be shot at any time by trigger happy cops.

Oh ya, and Kim Bergel, you’re lack of recent historical knowledge on who Sgt. Liles is speaks volumes about your knowledge about ANYTHING to do with the city.  This is Terry “child killer” Liles, the guy who literally had “notches” on his duty weapon for each of his kills.


Police Chief Andy “Hollywood” Mills has trained the media so well they’re spinin’ his stories for him


H. Beacon photo: Mills spinning the McClain killing


In fact, his spin control has been so effective the local media is just making up “fact’s” to support the out of control shooting spree by EPD in Downtown Eureka.

Over New Years, this caught our attention; KRCR ch 7 redding, their Eureka affiliate Northcoast News 23, featured this as one of its top stories of the year!

#2: Officer-Involved Shooting

In December, a Southern Humboldt man ran through the crowded streets of Downtown Eureka with a semi-automatic handgun. Clayton Lasinkski, 26, fired shots at police, and a full-blown shootout ensued. It was the second officer-involved shooting for the Eureka Police Department in six years.

Now that’s certainly what “slick” Andy Mills would like you to believe, never mind that this is completely false and misleading information, and in fact in the suspects statement he say’s he never pointed his gun at Officer Linfoot!!! Or anyone else. (hard to know since Linfoot conveniently hadn’t turned on his body camera) Also it wasn’t the second in six years it’s the second during Mills tenure as Police Chief, the last one was the negligent killing by Linfoot of Tommy McClain in September of 2014!

Now, lots of fake news that has come from this debacle is because of Andy Mill’s immediate spin the night of the shooting.  Before the officers had even been interviewed, he told the media that he believed the suspect either fired at officers or “dry fired” at officers.  How did he know that???  He knew that because yet again, he knew he could spin the story Donald Trump style since Linfoot didn’t record the shooting!!!

Mills, of course, made up an excuse to the media that Officer Linfoot was just starting his shift and the battery in his camera hadn’t been charged.  Oh please…..Give us a break!  The fact is Linfoot knows that video of his encounters might cost him his job, and maybe even put him in jail!

The same suspects and failed policies that resulted in the wrongful death of Tommy McClain are at the center of Tuesdays crazy shootout!

It all comes back around to Tommy McClain….

Finally yesterday the North Coast Journal broke the details that we at the Examiner had been hearing about from many sources all week…..that the Eureka Police Department had a completely out of control “O.K. Corral” type shootout just a couple days ago.  This happened in the middle of holiday shopping season, during rush hour traffic and was right in the middle of downtown Eureka:

Included in the NCJ article was a picture we had seen posted elsewhere.

Let him bleed out   (photo removed at request of owner)

If you go to the original picture in the NCJ, you can see how this whole incident spun out of control…if you know who the people are.  But first, just look at what is happening.  Look at the officers hands.  Not guns, but latex gloves.  Clayton Lasinski is bleeding on the ground because he was shot.  Although the officers had time to put on latex gloves, and fire over 40 bullets, not one of the 12 officers in this picture could take the time to grab a first aid kit or help the person lying on the ground.  Lasinski was shot at by four officers in this picture standing around and talking…trying to get their stories straight, and not trying to save his life.

The person who is being looked to in this picture, who almost all the officers are looking to for leadership and direction, is Captain Brian Stephens.  Stephens was the commander on scene and in charge of these officers as this running, “out of control” shooting spree by EPD started and ended.  He was the “Incident Commander”.  In the picture, Stephens is the guy with the moustache facing the camera (under the Toshiba sign).  Below, is a picture of Stephens.  Here, he’s smiling in all his glory.  He had just been promoted….after he oversaw the reckless murder of Tommy McClain:


Mills’ “favorite” Captain Stephens

Captain Stephens is smiling in this picture because he never fired a bullet and was promoted after leading a group of young cops in a cowboy operation that left Tommy McClain dead in his own front yard. Just weeks ago Eureka lost the wrongful death lawsuit in Tommy’s case, but the actual person who killed Tommy McClain was Officer Linfoot, not Stephens. Linfoot was was the only one named as a guilty party, but the leader responsible that night was Captain Stephens.  No worries for “Hollywood” Mills, he blamed Tommy from the beginning and PROMOTED Linfoot as well as Stephens.  Here’s a picture of Linfoot, but in the picture from the NCJ above, Linfoot is the person on the far left with the stripes on his sleeve (this guy actually TRAINS(?) cops!):


“billy the kid” Linfoot

Mills has already come out and claimed that the victim, a SoHum kid named Lasinski was a dangerous wanted criminal trying to kill the police.  Mills has said that Lasinski, a southern Humboldt kid from an allegedly multi-generational cannabis growing family, might have been trying to kill police but that his unfamiliarity with a model 1911 type .45 prevented him from firing a round.  That is what Mills will try and spin.  In all likelihood, “Hollywood” will be able to spin this around like he did with Tommy McClain when it comes to the local media.  Especially since some of them actually recommended Stephens for the job of Captain after Tommy McClain was killed!

However, “Hollywood” Mills can’t spin this: Linfoot was the first officer to shoot at Lasinski and he fired potentially dozens of bullets.  Stephens was the commander in charge of this nightmare, and even after 40 bullets he still didn’t care enough to have one officer check on Lasinski. Check the videos. He was probably hoping Lasinski would die just like Tommy, because dead people can’t testify against you.

Tommy McClain Never Forgotten

Observervations from McClain v. Eureka Federal Civil wrongful death lawsuit

Guest post by Robin Donald:

These are my thoughts regarding the Jury verdict in the Federal Civil wrongful death lawsuit brought by the McClain family against the City of Eureka for the actions of the Eureka Police Department (EPD) which resulted in the Police shooting death of their son, 22 year old Tommy McClain on the night of September 16/17, 2014. I attended about 95% of the eight hour, five day’s long trial, getting to the courthouse half-an-hour late on the second day. At times there were 14 members from the community who attended the trial to observe justice in action, and to support the McClain family.

The setting for this case is that the Eureka Police Department (EPD) had assigned a team of Officers to a stake out a duplex apartment on the 1600 block of Allard Avenue hoping to catch a neighbor, who was on their “Most Wanted” list. The other apartment in the duplex was the home of Tommy McClain, his cousin Josh, Josh’s wife Nichole Mottern, and the Motterns’ two young daughters. The EPD Officers had a photo of the neighbor, and at least one of the Officers had previously arrested him. Tommy McClain was not the person they were seeking, and all the Officers knew this. The person they were looking for didn’t show up while the EPD was working its stakeout.

Instead, a car with two women in the front and two men in the back pulled up, and the men and one woman got out and made their way into the apartment while the driver drove away. Though the Police didn’t know it, the passengers were Josh and Nichole Mottern, and Tommy McClain. They had been celebrating Josh’s birthday. While the Police claim that one of the men, Josh, was showing signs of being drunk, nobody makes this claim for Tommy McClain.

After some time, so the Police story goes, another vehicle parked across the street from the duplex, and Tommy McClain came out of his apartment and talked with the driver. According to the Police, Tommy McClain appeared confrontational, and after the driver had walked away and gone down the street, he ran his hands around his waistband, giving the Police reason to think that he might have a weapon tucked into his pants. At this point the EPD doesn’t claim to have seen a weapon. Two of the Officers doing the stakeout, Officers McElroy and Harkness, standing across the street, up a short slope, and behind a line of trees and an approximately six foot fence, then claim, from a distance of over 100 feet and through a closed door, to have heard the sound of a weapon being racked coming from Tommy McClain’s apartment, and then saw him step onto his porch.

The EPD then called for a Police vehicle, driven by Officer Linfoot, to drive past the house in an effort to get Tommy McClain to go back into his apartment. These Officers then claim that Tommy McClain first waved his hand at Officer Linfoot as he drove by, then took a gun out of his waistband and racked or loaded it before walking across the lawn, up the stairs to the porch of his apartment.

At this point Sgt. Stephens, the Senior EPD Officer in charge of this stakeout, drives up and parks his patrol vehicle. He turns on his vehicle’s spotlight and points it at Tommy McClain standing on his porch. Then he exits his vehicle and stands in front of it on the sidewalk. He also pulls his gun from its holster and points it at Tommy McClain, while giving Tommy McClain commands to put his hands up and come down from the porch and onto the lawn towards where the Sergeant is standing.

In the meantime, Officer Linfoot has driven his patrol vehicle into the alley behind the duplex to continue his stakeout for the suspect EPD was looking for. From where he is parked he can see past the side of the apartment into the front yard, and he sees that Sgt. Stephens has drawn his weapon. Officer Linfoot immediately speeds his car back around to the front of the duplex on Allard Avenue. He parks his vehicle, exits it, takes his weapon out of its holster, then chooses to move in front of both his vehicle and a telephone pole and walks down the sidewalk toward the lawn where Tommy McClain is being given commands by Sgt. Stephens.

Within moments of Officer Linfoot drawing his weapon and advancing toward Tommy McClain who is standing on the level if uneven lawn about 10 feet from the sidewalk with his arms straight up above his head (as shown by Officer Linfoot when he was giving his testimony), the audio from Officer Linfoot’s own patrol vehicle records the tragedy as it takes place. As reported in the Eureka Times-Standard of November 15, 2016:

“A series of shouted commands are then given by multiple officers over the next seven or so seconds, some more difficult to make out than others. The first clear command on the recording was “Get down here right now.” Then “Get your hands up” is yelled four times by [Sgt.] Stephens, Office Ryan McElroy and finally Linfoot, (according to his testimony)…. The next command of “get down,” which was followed about a second later by “stop,” then seven gunshots and a woman’s scream.”

The assessment–“about a second later”—is the assessment of the Times-Standard journalist, Will Houston. In the opinion of Officer Linfoot, who fired the shots, he started shooting about “a split second” after he shouted “Get down here,” and the reason the “here” is not heard is that it is covered over by the sounds of the shots. (Time travel may not be available for you and I, but noise of Officer Linfoot’s gunshots can go backwards in time to cover up his command shouted before he pulls the trigger. I don’t believe it, but the Jury did.)

The Jury of six women and men (one of whom works for the Ukiah Sheriff’s Department) ruled that Eureka Police Department (EPD) Officer Linfoot did not use excessive or unnecessary force when he fired seven shots at Tommy McClain hitting him with three, but he was 50% negligent for causing Tommy’s death. They also decided that Tommy McClain was 50% negligent for his own death for reportedly lowering his hands from above his head and moving them toward his waist, toward the gun that was reportedly tucked into his pants.

In order to decide that Officer Linfoot did not use excessive or unnecessary force the Jury had to agree with Officer Linfoot’s assertion that Tommy McClain reached for a gun at his waist, and that Officer Linfoot felt that there was immediate danger to himself of loss of life or injury. One problem with Officer Linfoot’s assessment is that then-EPD Sgt. Stephens (now Corporal having been promoted shortly after this incident), the senior and commanding officer on the scene who had been interacting with Tommy McClain from the beginning and who was better positioned than Officer Linfoot to see Tommy’s hands, did not fire his gun. Sgt. Stephens never fired a shot despite having drawn his gun and kept it pointed at Tommy from the beginning of his contact with him.

Sgt. Stephens characterized his initial interaction with Tommy McClain as a “consensual encounter.”  How an interaction between a uniformed on duty Policeman who is pointing a .40 caliber gun at the empty handed Tommy McClain while at the same time shouting commands at him and while a spotlight is shining on him can be called “consensual” is beyond my reasoning. It does, however, let us into the authoritarian mindset and philosophy of law enforcement.

Another problem I have is with the number of shots Officer Linfoot fired. Did he really need to fire more bullets after the one which first hit Tommy causing him to start falling to the ground? In fact, couldn’t he have fired a warning shot, or shot him in the leg and then evaluated the situation? Tommy McClain had not threatened any of the Police verbally or physically. He was not wanted for any crime nor did he have a record of being a violent person.  Most importantly, Tommy McClain had not tried to run away. He had complied with Sgt. Stephens’ commands to come down from the porch and put his hands up.

The Jury also had to ignore the testimony from all three expert witnesses: for the Plaintiffs, Roger Clark, an expert in police practices, tactics and use of force; for the Defense, Don Cameron, an expert in the use of force, and Alexander Jason, who specializes in reenactments of shooting scenarios and testifying on behalf of police who’ve shot someone. All three experts stated or admitted while on the witness stand that the California POST (Police Officer Standards and Training) training required to qualify to be a Police Officer in California teaches officers that it is inappropriate to shoot someone who does not have a gun in their hands, that doing so would amount to using excessive force. None of the Eureka Police on the scene said Tommy McClain ever touched the gun in his waist before Officer Linfoot killed him.

What might be the basis for the Jury’s determining that Officer Linfoot was 50% negligent? I think it comes from Officer Linfoot’s failure to seek cover (“breaking cover”) immediately after exiting his Police vehicle. He could have sought cover by positioning himself behind his car or the nearby telephone pole. This would have provided him a degree of safety. Instead he incautiously walked closer toward Tommy McClain, a person who he thought had a loaded gun in his waist. By breaking cover Officer Linfoot placed himself in an exposed and vulnerable position. Doing so increased his level of stress. Moving closer to Tommy MClain, whom he testified that he thought was armed with a lethal weapon, reduced the time he had to assess the situation without feeling that his life was in heightened or immediate danger requiring him to immediately fire his gun to protect himself.

It should be noted that Sgt. Stephens, the senior and commanding EPD Officer on scene, set a bad example for Officer Linfoot. Sgt. Stephens also broke cover and placed himself in a more vulnerable and dangerous position by walking onto the sidewalk and confronting Tommy McClain. If the Jury decided Officer Linfoot was 50% negligent, why did they not assign some negligence to Sgt. Stephens?

In addition to both Officers’ dangerous decision to break cover, when Officer Linfoot sped up in his car, exited it and got onto the sidewalk, he created confusion by shouting commands to Tommy McClain which conflicted with commands given by Sgt. Stephens. Sgt. Stephens, the senior officer in charge who had initiated contact with Tommy McClain, had drawn his gun and pointed it at Tommy McClain while commanding him to keep his hands up and to walk towards the sidewalk.

It is at this point, when Tommy McClain is being engaged by the Sergeant and complying with his commands, that Officer Linfoot hurriedly arrives and gets out of his police car. Then, instead of seeking cover he walks toward the lawn where Tommy McClain is standing with his hands up, and immediately shouts “Get Down!”

Despite his and other Officer’s claims that he really said “Get Down Here!” which they say meant get down to the sidewalk, after listening to the audio from Officer Linfoot’s  police vehicle being replayed three times in the courtroom I can say that I never heard the final word “Here.” All I heard was “Get Down.”

The reason given by the Officers for the absence of the final word “here” on the audio recording, is that it is blocked out by the sound of the seven shots fired by Officer Linfoot’s .40 caliber gun. Officer Linfoot admitted that he fired his gun at Tommy McClain a “split second” after shouting.  At this moment, Tommy had at least two Officers he could see within 15 feet pointing guns at him and telling him to do contradictory actions: “Put your hands up” and “Get down.”

The Plaintiff’s expert witness, Roger Clark–who was a Police Officer for many years and testified that one of the teams he trained had 2, 500 arrests in his last 5 years with them without firing a single shot (85% of the arrests were with multiple homicide suspects, many of them armed)–talked about the hypothetical situation of seeing a gun in someone’s waistband and how important clear commands are in this situation.  Mr. Clark emphasized that having clear commands like “Put your hands up” and “Don’t move,” commands with no to little room for confusion—on the part of both the Police and the person being engaged by them, in this case Tommy McClain–would  have been a good scenario.

Mr. Clark went on to testify that with an Officer’s sudden approach 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. Instead of defusing the incident, Mr. Clark says that the EPD’s behavior continually escalated it. When being held at gunpoint, as Tommy McClain was, Mr. Clark testified that it is “catastrophic to be given multiple commands.” Up until the moment shots were fired there were multiple officers yelling conflicting and confusing commands at Tommy McClain. Mr. Clark testified that he believes Officer Linfoot overreacted and “none of the shots were justified” in his opinion.

The use of force expert that the EPD Defense had testify, Don Cameron, also testified for the EPD and Humboldt Sheriff’s in the wrongful death trial after the Eureka police beat Martin “Freddie” Cotton II to death in 2007. The Jury in that case found Cameron’s testimony unbelievable, and awarded the Cotton Family an approximately $4.5 million award for their son’s death. It came as no surprise then when Don Cameron testified that Officer Linsfoot and the other EPD Officers had done no wrong. But even he had to admit under cross examination that the training given to Officers emphasizes that shooting at someone in a situation like this one is inappropriate and amounts to the use of excessive force.  The Defense’s other expert, Alexander Jason also admitted under cross examination that it was clearly excessive force and bad police practice.

In order for the Jury to decide that Officer Linfoot was only 50% negligent, they had to believe the Officer’s testimony that when Tommy McClain heard the command “Get Down!” he lowered his hands and reached for the gun in his waist. They must also accept the rationale of Nancy Delaney, the defense (EPD’s) lawyer, and I paraphrase, “that a drunk 22 year old will do irrational things, like reach for an unloaded pellet gun while having two Police Officers pointing their .40 caliber guns at them.” While Tommy McClain had been at his cousin’s birthday earlier that night, none of the Police testified that they thought he was drunk at the time of his death.

Equally important, the Defense offered no evidence that Tommy McClain was suicidal. In fact Tommy McClain was enjoying his life in Eureka: he had a job as a trainee-roofer and was able to pay his rent. As part of his living arrangement with Josh and Nichole Mottern he provided child care for their two young girls. He was the exact opposite of suicidal—he was working, financially responsible, loved by his family, and happy.

The problem I have with the jury’s decision is this: if they agree that Officer Linfoot’s negligence–his violation of tactic and command protocols–caused the chaotic and dangerous situation which resulted in him killing Tommy McClain, then any force he used should, ipso facto, be considered excessive and unnecessary. Even if you accept that Tommy McClain reached for a gun tucked in his waist (a version of events which was contradicted by the only non-Officer witness to the shooting, Nichole Mottern, who was standing on the porch when Tommy was shot and said that his hands were lowered to the side as he began to lower himself to the ground), if Officer Linfoot and Sgt. Stephens had followed their POST training and remained in cover (positioning themselves behind their cars, or in Officer Linfoot’s case he could have also used a telephone pole) they would have had more time to talk with Tommy McClain and from a greater distance, and with less anxiety and fear.

Mr. Clark also testified that, as indicated by standard police training, “distance and cover equals time.” If the Officers had remained in cover they would have had time to ask Tommy McClain about the gun they thought he had in his waistband. Tommy McClain would have had the time to tell them it was a replica pellet gun and that it wasn’t loaded. This would have, or should have, deescalated the situation and it would have been resolved peacefully and Tommy McClain would not have been killed. Also, again as per standard police training, if only one Officer had done the talking with Tommy McClain, then ambiguous, contradictory and confusing commands would have been less likely to have contributed to the fatal outcome.

I think it is obvious that—going by the EPD’s own account of this tragedy–if the EPD had not been in the neighborhood in the middle of the night on the lookout for his neighbor, if Sgt. Stephens had not called Tommy McClain down from his porch into his yard, if Officer Linfoot had not charged in with his whirlwind of chaos, if they had left him alone, Tommy McClain would be alive today. Tommy had never been arrested. He had a job. He was respected and loved. He was trusted to take care of children. Nobody had called the police on him. This whole incident was initiated and escalated by the EPD. The question remains as to why the EPD took this aggressive approach to a non-existent threat? After all, the gun Tommy McClain allegedly had stuck in his waistband was an unloaded replica pellet gun.

I think we can get a glimpse of the answer when we see that, from a larger context this murderous mistake on the part of the EPD and Officer Linfoot was not really a mistake at all. It was the result of the “Broken Windows” philosophy of policing which asserts that when you have a broken window in a building, if you don’t repair it immediately then soon another window will be broken, and then another and eventually the whole neighborhood will be run down.

It is an appeal to proactive policing, of justifying Police vigorously enforcing minor offenses because it is believed this will deter major ones. It is the philosophy behind New York’s “Stop and Frisk” policy which was initiated by then-Mayor of New York, Rudy Giuliani. “Stop and Frisk” was ruled to be unconstitutional by Shira Sheindlin, U.S. District Judge for the Southern District of New York in 2013.

This has not deterred President-elect Donald Trump from promising to expand “Stop and Frisk” nationwide. Declaring himself as “law and order” candidate when he was running for the Republican nomination, President-elect Trump got the backing of the Fraternal Order of Police, the 300,000 member strong police union. He also got the first endorsement ever from the National Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Council representing the nation’s approximately roughly 5,000 agents and personnel.

But long before the 2016 Election season, beginning back in 2005, the EPD had, under the “Broken Windows” philosophy, already killed a number of people under questionable circumstances.  The EPD, much like many police outfits throughout the country, regularly criminalize (especially if those people are poor) and then often exaggerate or flat out lie about the danger they were “threatened with” in order to justify killing or severely harming those civilians.

One remarkable distinction, however, between EPD and many other police departments who’s officers are suspected or known to have used excessive violence or lethal violence, is the patent and utter refusal of EPD or the City of Eureka to fire, reprimand, or demote such officers–even if only for the purpose of instilling confidence in the communities which they ‘police’.  Because EPD routinely ignores, downplays and covers up instances of wrongful and unjustified use of force, there is a climate of indulgence in the department, whereby officers – and particularly those with predilections for over-aggressiveness, violence and abuse of authority, feel free to violate peoples’ rights while on duty, because they are confident no disciplinary consequences will arise.

Here is a partial list of people killed by the EPD and/or Humboldt County Sheriff Department or California Highway Patrol since 2005:

–         Fall of 2005, 16 year old Christopher Burgess, killed by EPD Officer Terry Liles

–         Spring of 2006, another teenager, Zachary Cooke, also killed by EPD Officer Terry Liles

–         Spring of 2006, Gabriel Muldenado, who spoke only Spanish, was killed by EPD

–         April 14, 2006, Cheri Lyn Moore is shot and killed in a standoff with EPD SWAT in her second-story apartment

–         August 9, 2007, Martin “Freddy” Cotton II, 26 years old, was killed by EPD Officers on August 9, 2007 (The Cotton family won an award of approximately $4.5 million in an unlawful death civil lawsuit against the City of Eureka.)

–         “Richie” Richard Fredrick Tis’mil Estrada, member of the Hooopa Tribe, had just turned 17 when he was killed by California Highway Patrol on Dec. 18, 2014.

I hope that the tragedy of Tommy McClain’s death is a wake-up call for the EPD to finally begin to see that the irrevocable harm done to the community by implementing policies informed by the “broken windows” philosophy will no longer be tolerated. However, given that the senior officer in command of the operation resulting in Tommy’s death, Sgt. Stephens, was promoted to Captain shortly after this incident, this does not seem likely. It is also past time for the Eureka City Council to step forward and give some humane guidance to its Police Department. Even here, where the then-Eureka Coroner Frank Jaeger massaged the Coroner’s Inquist into the Chery Lyn Moore killing by the EPD SWAT such that none of the Officers suffered any adverse consequences, I am far from convinced that any progress will be forthcoming.

Until this nation’s law authorities radically reform their philosophy and policies which result in Police brutality on a regular basis, it is up to “we the people” to be an alert civic community and keep an eye on those who are sworn to protect us but who instead harm us. It is up to us to follow the example and lead of Redwood Curtain Copwatch ( located in Eureka, Humboldt County: we must observe the Police on a daily basis and be prepared to photograph them, both when an incident is taking place, and in order to prevent future incidents from happening. And after an incident of Police Brutality occurs, we must be prepared to work within the judicial system to seek justice for the victim/s and their families. There are Copwatch groups all over the nation, which, with Donald “law and order” Trump the President-elect promising to implement the “Stop and Frisk” policy nationwide, is a good thing.