Nov 092011

Did the City Attorney collude with DeWayne Stancill to erase history and defraud CalPERS?

Last week, news of the settlement between the City of San Leandro and former SLPD officer DeWayne Stancill hit the airwaves.  Stancill had been fired from the SLPD after he complained of racial harassment, following accusations of sexually harassing female officers.  The reasons given for Stancill’s firing were unrelated, but they also didn’t seem solid.  Stancill sued the city for wrongful termination, and last January the city settled.

It’s the elements of the settlement (posted below) which I find disturbing:

– The city agreed to pay Stancill $135,000 (plus attorneys fees), but only if he provided a doctor’s note saying that he had been injured in the course of duty.  Those $135,000 would then be considered compensation for those injuries.

– Stancill was to be reinstated into the SLPD, without pay, so that he could then apply for an “Industrial Disability Retirement” from CalPERS.

– If CalPERS did not grant Stancill a disability pension, then the settlement agreement was void.

Also, as part of the settlement agreement:

– The city agreed to exonerate Stancill

– The city agreed to destroy all documents related to Stancill’s demotion from Sergeant and firing, including the termination letters and the investigation reports leading to those actions and all documents regarding the sexual harassment claims against Stancill, including the Estrin report, among others.

– The city would replace the memorandum detailing the reasons why Stancill should be demoted with a form that just says that his probationary period had ended.  It’s not clear to me whether that form was created in 2009, or was created for the settlement and backdated to 2009.  The latter would seem fraudulent to me.

If Stancill did  not get the disability retirement, however, this part of the settlement would also be void.  That meant that Stancill would not have been exonerated.

Now, this may all be perfectly legal, but it seems terribly unethical to me.  Either Stancill was injured during his tenure or not. If he was, he should pursue those issues with CalPERS independently of this lawsuit.  If he wasn’t, the city should not conspire with him to defraud CalPERS.

Similarly, either Stancill committed the acts for which he was demoted and fired, or not.  If he did, the city should not lie and exonerate him, much less destroy all the information about his misconduct.  If he didn’t commit those acts, he should be exonerated regardless of whether he has a doctor’s note documenting his disability.  Again, those things should be independent.  Moreover, it’s deeply disturbing that the city agreed to destroy the documents about the sexual harassment of the female officers, thus deleting a piece of SLPD history that should not be forgotten.  Now, unethical agreements like this are filed every day, but I wished our City would be not be that sleazy.  I am sure that this settlement is the brainchild of Meyers Nave, the firm that represents the City, but it had to be approved by the City Council.

Settlement Agreement between DeWayne Stancill & the City of San Leandro


Nov 022011

Former SLPD officer DeWayne Stancill

Read the legal documents on the allegations of racial and sexual harassment and the SLPD.

(This post has been revised and re-revised since its original publication).

In early 2008, a number of female police officers at the San Leandro Police Department made internal complaints regarding sexual harassment by then sergeant DeWayne Stancill.  The city responded by promptly hiring an outside investigator to look into the complaints.  The report concluded that the complaints were unfounded, but that Stancill’s behavior had at times been inappropriate.  A second investigation prompted by reports of sexual harassment and retaliation made by Officer Debra Trujillo against Stancill, also cleared him of wrongdoing.   Stancill then filed his own complaint of racial harassment, naming the officers who previously complained against him as well as others associated with them.  The City hired a private attorney to investigate the matter, who concluded that some officers had made derogatory remarks against Stancill, but it wasn’t because of his race.

Stancill was later demoted from Sergeant and then fired for allegedly unrelated reasons.

The female officers sued for sexual harassment and discrimination, and the City settled for various amounts, from $25K to $295K.   The City also agreed to institute changes in the police department, including changes to how promotions are given.    In the case of Officer Trujillo, the City did not settle, went to trial and won.  Stancill sued the City for wrongful termination, the City recently settled that lawsuit for over $300K, including attorney’s fees. He was reinstated to his job, from which he then retired.

Recently, the East Bay Express published an article on the controversy written by San Leandro blogger Steven Tavares.  Tavares is not particularly well known for his journalistic standards, and he mostly tells Stancill’s side of the story, but it’s a story that has not been told before.  Given the gravity of the story, and its cost to the city, I think it’s a story that has to be told carefully.

At this point, having read only the private investigation reports, I have more questions than answers: Why did the City spend over $1M settling cases that its investigators have deemed baseless? If the city was concerned with the cost/risk of litigation, why did it not settle the case brought by Officer Trujillo? What were the real basis of animosity towards Stancill in the department?  Why was he really fired?  Is the fact that Stancill’s 19yo son, a gang member, shot and killed a SLHS student during this period, unrelated to how other officers reacted towards him? And is the tendentious nature of the report on Stancill’s allegations a result of the investigator’s ineptitude or a sign of what the City Attorney wanted the “official story” to be?

I hope to find some answers as I read more of the court documents.  I will post those documents I find relevant here. I will be posting the City’s private investigators’ reports on the sexual and racial harassment allegations.  These reports should not have been made public, as they convey private information about police officers and opinions presented by them in what they thought was a confidential setting.  However, the reports were made public when introduced into the court proceedings and are available for download from the court’s website.  I am posting them here for ease of access, but I’m redacting names of people who refused to make official complains, as well as others who did not have a chance to defend themselves.  I am also redacting personal information that is irrelevant to the case.

Report on the Investigation of Sexual Harassment complaints
This report was made by private investigator Debra L. Estrin, who was hired by the law firm that represents the city, Meyers Nave, to investigate the claims made by female police officers of sexual harassment by DeWayne Stancill.  In my opinion, it’s a well researched and professionally written report.

Report on the Investigation of Stancill’s allegations of racial harassment
This report was made by private attorney Patricia Elliot, hired by Meyers Nave to investigate allegations of racial harassment made by DeWayne Stancill.  This report is sloppily written, with multiple factual mistakes, selectively quotes parts of the Estrin report, ignoring the context, and comes to conclusions unsupported by the evidence presented.  Whether that’s because of incompetence by the investigator, personal bias or direction by Meyers Nave is unclear.

City’s Motion for Summary Judgement
On the case brought by Stancill for wrongful termination.  It explains the city’s reasons for terminating Stancil: that he acted unprofessionally by wearing a teaching saying “Acquitted,” after the report on the sexual harassment complaints (see above) came out, by not recusing himself from doing the background check on an applicant which he knew (he told his supervisor her knew the applicant, but not that he had previously recommended him for another job), and by not telling a sergeant that he believed the father of an injured suspect was a dangerous “crook”, when said sergeant suggested he let said father see his son in the hospital.  The motion was denied.