Tulare City Councilman Carlton Jones is at the center of yet another controversy involving the Tulare Police Department.
In a statement issued to local media by Jones on August 25, Jones describes an alleged confrontation between himself and TPD officer Lt. Jarod Boatman. Boatman, according to Jones’ statement, later filed a “criminal police report” in which Boatman accused Jones of challenging the officer to a physical fight.
“In this report Stg (sic) Jarod Boatman accused me of a crime, stating while walking to my car after a council meeting that I stopped, took an aggressive stance, removed my arm sling (less than 2 weeks after surgery) and challenging (sic) him to a fight,” Jones wrote.
Jones Claims Innocence
Jones also claims an investigation into the incident by Fresno attorney Dan Rowley cleared him of any wrongdoing.
“I was lucky that my entire walk to my car was caught on surveillance video and showed that I did not do the things I was accused of in Boatman’s report,” Jones wrote.
The altercation between Jones and Boatman began during a meeting of the Tulare City Council, and continued later in the parking lot after the meeting concluded, according to a source who spoke under condition of anonymity.
Fight to the Finish
According to Jones, Boatman told the officer who took his statement their aggressive confrontations were likely to continue.
“Officer Jarrod (sic) Boatman told the investigator that he doesn’t think this will end between me and him until we fight,” Jones wrote.
Jones, in his written statement, claimed Boatman is preparing to kill him. The officer’s report about the confrontation with Jones, the councilman said, is an attempt to establish a false history of aggression on Jones’ part.
“I’m afraid that Officer Boatman is trying to create a fake situation to shoot me,” Jones wrote. “I’m worried about my safety and the safety of my entire community. Knowing an officer will lie and make a false claim should concern us all.”
A Personnel Matter
According to Jones, City Attorney Mario Zamora has refused to release Rowley’s investigation into the confrontation. Jones claims the report establishes there was no wrongdoing on his part.
Zamora, however, said the report could not be released because it addresses a confidential personnel matter.
“The report involves Boatman, so that makes it a personnel issue,” he said. “The Records Act says we’re not to give them out, unless there are certain circumstances.”
Keeping Them Honest
Jones says there is a larger issue that must be addressed: Boatman’s honesty.
“Tulare PD and the Tulare County DA’s Office knows that Officer Boatman made a false claim and has yet to do anything,” Jones claims. “The public should be made aware, and any case that Boatman has testified in should be reviewed.”
Under the so-called Brady Rule–established by the 1963 US Supreme Court Case Brady v. Maryland–prosecutors must reveal to defendants whether a police officer has a history of giving dishonest testimony. Jones made a passing reference to Brady in his statement regarding Boatman.
Zamora, while not able to discuss particulars of the alleged incident between Jones and Boatman, said the Brady Rule is clear.
“Dishonest officers must be identified,” he said.
He also said accusations of misbehavior are frequent for civil institutions.
“It’s pretty common in every agency, especially one that deals with a criminal element,” Zamora said. “Anyone can file a complaint.”
Should it be discovered any member of the TPD was dishonest in an official report, city policy is already in place to deal with such situations.
“In that instance, the police department has an internal affairs investigator and it would be investigated,” Zamora said.
Records Act Violation
Despite the reasoning behind Jones’ statement to the press, it appears he is again releasing confidential matter detailing a confidential personnel issue. Such disclosures are a violation of the California Public Records Act.
Previously, the city was sued for the wrongful termination of Tulare Chief of Police Wes Hensley by Visalia attorney Michael Lampe. In the suit, Lampe claimed Jones obtained a copy of a confidential report that detailed results of an investigation into the behavior of Hensley and shared portions of it with members of the public. Jones allegedly posted part of the report on his social media accounts.
According to Lampe, Jones release of the report on Hensley would result in “multiple damage claims against the city.”
Several members of the TPD, Lampe said, had contacted his office, and Jones would likely be a co-defendant in several cases.
If Jones has violated Boatman’s privacy, Mayor Jose Sigala believes there should be consequences.
“Councilmembers should be accountable just like anyone else in the city when it comes to complaints of harassment, intimidation or whatever,” he said.
Sigala, however, has not made himself familiar with the details of the incident between Jones and Boatman. He has also not read any report on the incident.
“I’m assuming there’s a report,” Sigala said. “I haven’t seen it.”
A special closed session of the city council was scheduled for Tuesday evening, September 3. Listed on the agenda for the meeting were three conferences between the City Council and its attorneys. The first of the three lists “six items of anticipated litigation” as a topic for discussion. A second item describes a consultation regarding litigation stemming from a “complaint made by existing city employee,” while a third discussion was to focus on two more “items of anticipated litigation.”
One of the three items may involve Councilman Greg Nunley’s demand the city pay him $16.5 million to compensate him for damages to his reputation and his business stemming from reports Nunley had failed to meet payment deadlines established with the city regarding several of his real estate development projects.
“Council obviously rejected the claim (by Nunley),” Sigala said. “From what I understand, you have six months from that time to file a lawsuit.”
Nunley’s six months will expire in mid-October.