Sacramento County supervisors Wednesday were divided over who should conduct oversight of the Sheriff’s Department after Sheriff Scott Jones locked out the current inspector general — effectively ending external reviews of the department for now.
During Wednesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting and in earlier interviews with The Bee, two supervisors representing northeast suburbs in Sacramento County defended Jones’ right to lock out Inspector General Rick Braziel.
But three supervisors whose districts largely cover the cities of Sacramento, Elk Grove and Rancho Cordova were unhappy with Braziel’s ouster and were not ready to replace him.
“I would prefer that we have a discussion, a robust discussion,” said Supervisor Patrick Kennedy, who represents much of south Sacramento, during the meeting. “Unilaterally going down one way or another is not a good idea.”
Earlier, Kennedy told The Bee, “I have full confidence in Rick Braziel and think he has done a very good job as inspector general. In light of the sheriff’s temper tantrum, I have to find out what all of our available options are.”
Kennedy’s comments at the board meeting came after county executive Nav Gill said the county needed to have “an inspector general that was functioning” and suggested Gill, Jones and Board of Supervisors Chair Susan Peters return with recommendations for an interim replacement.
Later, Gill said if the board chooses not to seek a replacement, the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office or the state Attorney General’s Office could provide oversight until a long-term solution is found.
Braziel, who worked for the Sacramento Police Department for 33 years and served as its police chief from 2008 to 2012, has an inspector general contract with the county that must be approved each November. Wednesday’s discussion indicated that his contract may not be renewed this year.
Last month, Braziel wrote a report that criticized the actions of sheriff’s deputies in the fatal shooting of Mikel McIntyre, which occurred in Rancho Cordova in May 2017. Braziel concluded that deputies missed chances to de-escalate the situation before ultimately firing 28 shots at McIntyre, hitting him from the rear in both arms and both legs, and once in his back. One deputy fired 18 shots while crossing lanes of Highway 50.
Braziel said the deputies fired an “excessive, unnecessary” number of rounds that put civilians at risk.
Days later, Jones sent emails to Braziel and the county announcing Braziel would no longer have access to department facilities, personnel or records — ending Braziel’s ability to conduct reviews.
Jones told The Bee that the move was not a response to the report, but stemmed from concerns about Braziel’s motivations in general. The sheriff alleged Braziel had a conflict of interest by serving on a state law enforcement training board where he promotes de-escalation training, which Jones says may have influenced Braziel’s analysis about the lethal force used by deputies.
Jones also attacked the timing of the release of the McIntyre report, charging that it could have been politically motivated, and alleged that Braziel had lied about his reason for its release.
“The manner in which he released it, the timing in which he released it before the (District Attorney) had completed her finding ... and at the behest and seemingly coincidentally at the same time there was a member of the Board of Supervisors pushing for its release was not just coincidental,” Jones said.
While Jones did not name the supervisor, Phil Serna has been outspoken that more information about the 16-month-old shooting should be released. Most of Serna’s constituents live in the city of Sacramento, which has changed policies in recent years to release video and audio from police shootings, most notably in the Stephon Clark incident in March.
Brigett McIntyre, Mikel McIntyre’s mother, has also pushed for more information and filed a federal civil rights lawsuit in June.
Braziel said he had released multiple reports in the past before the district attorney issued a review. He said his position as a member of the Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) had no impact on his conclusions that deputies missed opportunities to de-escalate the situation.
Braziel was appointed to the POST board in 2015 by Gov. Jerry Brown. The commission helps set regulations and standards for California law enforcement, and POST conducts many of those trainings.
Kennedy took issue with Jones’ contention that Braziel released his report to “inappropriately cater” to one supervisor, a comment made in an email from Jones to the county that was obtained by The Bee through a Public Records Act request.
“That’s completely inaccurate,” Kennedy said.
Kennedy and Supervisor Don Nottoli said the board discussed the timing of Braziel’s report in closed session before it was made public. Kennedy said the board reached a “consensus decision” on whether Braziel’s report should be made public. Jones also said that his department had received a copy of the report about two weeks prior to its release.
Nottoli’s district includes Elk Grove and Rancho Cordova, including where the McIntyre incident began.
Peters, whose district largely covers suburbs east of Sacramento such as Carmichael and Fair Oaks, told The Bee in an interview last week that, as an elected official, Jones’ was within “his right” to lock Braziel out. She said she would recommend the county look for a new inspector general because the lockout made Braziel “completely ineffective.”
Supervisor Sue Frost, whose district includes Folsom and Citrus Heights, said in a statement, “There is no question that the publicly elected Sheriff has the authority to remove the inspector general’s access, but we should be focusing on providing enhanced training and resources for our deputies — which is why earlier this year I proposed that the County purchase a more advanced ‘use of force’ simulator.”
Nottoli was hesitant to replace Braziel.
“I am not willing to give up on this at this particular point in time even though we have this standoff,” Nottoli said.
Serna suggested holding public workshops to examine other possible oversight models. He said he was “very satisfied” with Braziel’s performance as inspector general and added, “It’s a fool’s errand, to be very blunt, for us to immediately go out and look for another individual that will … appeal to the sheriff.”