Vallejo PD Faces New Civil Rights Lawsuits, Calls For Oversight

"We Want This Department To Treat People With Respect" Says Attorney

Bob Butler
September 20, 2019 - 11:26 am

VALLEJO, CA (KCBS Radio) – A prominent civil rights attorney has launched three new lawsuits against the Vallejo Police Department, which he says are indicative of a larger issue.

In the lawsuits, attorney John Burris accuses the department of racial profiling, excessive force and making false arrest and says this is part of a larger pattern of discrimination. Burris has sued the department over a dozen times in the last few years and is now asking for third party oversight.

“I want the department to be monitored by either state or private or federal officials,” says Burris. “What is the data on people being stopped, what’s the data suggesting of the people being stopped, what is their racial background and how many of those people get searched?”

One plaintiff is Delon Thurston, a 40-year-old African American woman who was accused of stealing her own vehicle during a traffic stop in October 2018. She says she was dragged out of her car, thrown on the ground, body searched and arrested.

Adrian Burrell, a 28-year-old African American man says he was arrested after he refused to stop filming an officer from his front porch while the officer held his cousin at gunpoint.

The third plaintiff is 19-year-old Deyana Jenkins, niece of Willie McCoy who was fatally shot in his car by six Vallejo police officers. Two months after the shooting, Burris says Jenkins was pulled over, held at gunpoint and tased during a traffic stop. Jenkins was arrested for driving without a license.

"Not surprisingly, the Solano County District Attorney did not pursue charges against any of these innocent people," says Burris, who says that none of the officers involved in these incidents were disciplined or received any additional training.

Burris says the department rarely disciplines officers who are accused of misconduct. “When you take the matter to internal affairs to complain about it, the system is so rigged against the complainant that they never – the police are never held accountable.”

Burris worked with the Oakland Police Department on its consent decree and wants to see a similar agreement from Vallejo PD. “We want this department to treat people with respect and we want them to follow the law and engage in constitutional type policing.”

Vallejo city attorney Claudia Quintana issued a statement saying the city would not comment on pending litigation.