Fresno police auditor John Gliatta released his findings on Thursday regarding allegations of excessive force during a January 2019 gang raid arrest.

Photo of GV Wire's David Taub

David Taub

Politics 101

The incident, including body camera footage that apparently shows an officer striking a 17-year old seven times, led to a federal lawsuit and has been cited in conversations about policing techniques.

Gliatta determined that four of the seven punches that landed on London Wallace were excessive.

Todd Frazier, president of the Fresno Police Officers Association, objected to Gliatta’s findings.

“I respect Mr. Gliatta and his right to conclude whatever he wants, but I strenuously disagreed with his conclusion,” Frazier told Politics 101.

Frazier said the officers’ situation was dangerous, they were outnumbered by suspected gang members and were making arrests in an area with limited space.

“Officers are human beings. They have to react based on training, experience and their instincts. Their lives depend on it. The video of this incident was made public by an attorney hoping to capitalize on the way it looked, and what was occurring with public sentiment at the moment. Unfortunately, this officer was not given the benefit of doubt for what he and the other officers had to deal with that night, out on that landing, with potentially armed gang members,” Frazier said.

To read Frazier’s full comments, click here.

Also in Politics 101: 

  • Governor Appoints Four to Big Fresno Fair Board
  • Council Approves Contracts for Veterans Boulevard
  • Clovis Looking to Expand Boundaries

Governor Appoints Four New Big Fresno Fair Board Members

There may be no Big Fresno Fair in the traditional sense this year, but Gov. Gavin Newsom this week appointed four new members to its operating board.

Gary Chahil, Frank Flores, Terry Gonsalves and Annalisa Perea will fill seats on the nine-member board. All are Democrats.

Chahil is president of California EB5 Investments and a former staffer to Rep. Jim Costa, D- Fresno, according to information provided by Newsom’s office. Flores has been a union leader for sheet metal workers. Gonsalves has a background in agriculture, currently a partner at Superior Dealer Insurance Services. Perea is a planner with engineering and construction firm QK and an elected trustee with the State Center Community College District.

“I look forward to working with my fellow board members to support our agricultural industry and workers during these particularly challenging times caused by COVID-19,” Perea said in an email statement.

Chahil and Flores are filling in vacant seats, most recently held by Dora Westerlund and Debbie Jacobsen, respectively.

Gonsalves replaces Leta Ciavaglia, who termed out in January 2019, but by law, remained as a director until her replacement was selected. Perea replaced Gabriel Hernandez who termed out last January.

The new board members took their seats yesterday. A board term lasts four years.

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Big Fresno Fair will be reduced to a 10-day “Drive-Thru Eats” event, where the usual favorites like cinnamon rolls and corndogs will be offered.

The board also restructured the fair’s management team this summer, transferring longtime CEO John Alkire to the fundraising arm of the fair and designating Stacy Rianda and Lauri King overseeing operations in absence of a CEO.

Veterans Boulevard Project Moves Forward

Last week, the Fresno City Council moved forward with financial agreements to build Veterans Boulevard. The project, decades in the making, would construct a new six-lane road in west Fresno between Shaw and Herndon avenues, crossing Highway 99.

The goal of the diagonal-oriented Veterans Boulevard, planners have long said, is to connect Fresnans west of Highway 99 to the rest of the city. The $138 million project will be paid for with federal, state, regional and local funds.

The council approved four contracts authorizing $40 million in spending. One agreement gives Cal Trans  oversight of construction. The vote, on the consent calendar, passed 6-0.

Phased construction has already started. An overpass of the railroad tracks at Golden State Boulevard is expected to finished by next July. A segment between Shaw Avenue and Barstow is expected to finished by next September.

Map of Veterans Boulevard project

Map of the $138 million Veterans Boulevard project. (City of Fresno)

Clovis Looking to Expand Boundaries

Last month, the Clovis City Council started a process to add 825 more acres into the city.

The proposal would add land north of Shepherd Avenue, roughly between North Carson and Sunnyside avenues, from the county to the city.

The request, from Wilson Premier Homes, was originally for 75 acres at Shepherd and Sunnyside. COVID-19 put those plans on the shelf, but the builder is moving forward on even a bigger plan.

There are still many steps to take before that land becomes part of the city. That includes neighborhood meetings and the completion of an environmental impact report which could take 12-16 months.

The council approved commencing the process with a 4-1 vote at its September 14 meeting. Councilman Bob Whalen was the lone no vote. Several residents living in the area spoke in opposition.

Proposed Clovis sphere of influence extension (City of Clovis)

2 Responses

  1. Bernard Rieux

    The officer had to do what he did because it was such a “dangerous and tense” situation that could have gone wrong at any moment, yet somehow amidst all that danger one of the officers was able to focus on aiming his flashlight at a bystander’s camera in attempt to prevent him from filming the arrest.

    If a cop can’t handle a probation search of teenagers without experiencing “sensory overload” that causes him to submit a false report, then why was he picked for the gang unit? Is it only in non-eventful incidents that we can expect police reports to be truthful?

  2. Kirk

    Mr. Rieux obviously doesn’t understand the circumstances at hand in this incident. He then makes broad baseless conclusions without any merit to them, and adds his opinion to the “facts” of the case.
    The flashlight portion of the event had nothing to do with the force part of the incident, yet he joins them as if they were connected when they were not.
    He downplays the incident environment, and then concludes the officer submitted a false report-that didn’t happen.
    He concludes it was a non-eventful incident which is was nothing of the sort.
    He questions whether police can only be truthful in reports of non-eventful incidents. The officer’s truthfulness was not in question here.
    In the end, Mr. Rieux misstates the facts, downplays the actual environment, and accuses the officer of being untruthful without merit.
    Mr. Rieux, it might be a good idea to walk a mile in our shoes before you make such unsupported comments and conclusions. As one who has worked for decades here policing this violent city, I can tell you the officer did NOT doing anything wrong, and I also disagree with the Auditor’s findings.


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