City of San Rafael Statement Regarding Public Records Release
Following a highly publicized incident involving the use of force by members of the San Rafael Police Department that occurred in the Summer of 2022 with an individual named Mr. Lopez. An independent administrative investigation was conducted into all aspects of the incident. Police Chief Dave Spiller found the investigation to be thorough and complete and the investigation resulted in sustained findings of policy violations by the involved police officers. The Police Chief responded by issuing appropriate discipline.
The City of San Rafael has been served with multiple Public Records Act requests centered on the administrative investigation and all associated records related to the Lopez incident. Police Chief, David Spiller remains committed to transparency, but is also bound by procedural protections of personnel records as legislated in the Peace Officers Bill of Rights (POBAR).
Initially, the City and its Police Department considered the records to be confidential personnel records and protected by law under POBAR the City Attorney with the support of outside counsel worked to protect the records from disclosure. The City was sued over the failure to release the requested records and the case was brought to court. In a civil court proceeding in Marin County Superior Court, it was determined injuries sustained by Mr. Lopez constituted great bodily injury, making the release of the requested records lawful and required pursuant to 832.7 of the California Penal Code. As such, the City is now making available the requested records.
In consideration of the court’s finding, the San Rafael Police Department is now required to release certain public information about the case pursuant to SB 1421, which amended California Penal Code 832.7.
Among the information now required to be disclosed are the names of the police officers, their employment status, and all investigative materials and report and administrative findings. For transparency purposes, the San Rafael Police Department will post those records and make them publicly available on our website here https://www.srpd.org/transparency-SR22-05221.php
Meanwhile, the department continues our outreach to develop feedback for our newly formed Police Accountability and Advisory Committee and to continue to deepen relationships between the Police Department and the Community. We are committed to keep the public as safe as possible while we work to build trust with our community. https://www.cityofsanrafael.org/paac-community-input/.
By: Lieutenant Scott Eberle