Crime - Sacto 911

Sheriff Scott Jones levels new claim against ousted inspector general Rick Braziel

Sacramento Sheriff Scott Jones has renewed his feud with former county Inspector General Rick Braziel, accusing him of rushing the release of a report on an officer-involved shooting to enhance his chances of winning a multimillion dollar police monitoring contract in Chicago.

In a letter sent to County Executive Navdeep Gill Wednesday and forwarded to the Board of Supervisors, the sheriff accuses Braziel of “ulterior actions and motives” when he released a report on Aug. 15 that was highly critical of sheriff’s deputies involved in the shooting death of Mikel McIntyre.

“Completely, blatantly untrue,” Braziel said Thursday when told of the letter.

“Chicago wasn’t even on my radar screen when I issued it,” Braziel said. “It got issued when it was done.”

Braziel has previously defended his handling of the McIntyre report, saying Jones’ anger at him stems from the sheriff’s inability to accept criticism.

“I’m not sure why he can’t let it go,” Braziel said. “I have.”

The flap is the latest in a series of disputes stemming from the May 8, 2017, shooting of McIntyre, a mentally disturbed black man who was killed after smashing a deputy in the head with a large rock and throwing rocks at others.

Braziel, who was under contract with the county to review uses of force by Jones’ deputies, issued a report criticizing deputies at the scene for firing an “excessive, unnecessary” number of rounds at McIntyre as he fled along Highway 50 and concluding they put citizens at risk.

Braziel’s report found deputies fired 28 rounds at McIntyre, hitting him at least six times from behind. He described portions of the incident as a “bad” shooting in a December interview with The Bee, and concedes that he likely will be called as a witness for McIntyre family members who have filed a federal wrongful death lawsuit against the sheriff’s department.

Jones rejected Braziel’s conclusions in the report, questioned why he released the report before the District Attorney’s office had finished its own review and locked Braziel out of sheriff’s facilities, effectively ending his role as inspector general.

For months afterward, the dispute roiled Board of Supervisors meetings as supporters of both men filled the chambers and questioned whether Jones should be able to dictate whether Braziel continued in his post.

Ultimately, Braziel’s contract expired Nov. 30 and the board agreed to seek a new inspector general under tougher new contract language that allows supervisors to request independent probes of use of force incidents.

Supervisor Phil Serna said the letter doesn’t change anything in the ongoing debate of the role of the inspector general, and expressed surprise that Jones “wanted to pour some gas back on the fire,” he said.

“My first impression is that it seemed like more indication of the sheriff’s desperation on this,” Serna said. “And by that, I mean he seems to be engaged in searching for a smoking gun that doesn’t exist.”

The board is still pursuing a memorandum of understanding with the sheriff, he added.

Supervisor Patrick Kennedy was not immediately available for comment.

READ THE DOCUMENT: See the letter Sheriff Scott Jones sent to county executive Navdeep Gill

Braziel, a former Sacramento police chief, has defended his actions and says he fell victim to a sheriff who simply could not take criticism and that his report was an honest assessment of a controversial shooting death.

Now, Jones says he believes Braziel had a lucrative reason to release the McIntyre report last summer: he was trying to win a contract to be an independent monitor overseeing the Chicago Police Department.

Braziel says that is untrue and that the proposal was submitted through the Police Foundation, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit he belongs to that is now one of four finalists for the monitoring job.

Braziel says the Police Foundation originally asked him over the summer if he could be involved in the Chicago monitoring project but that he declined because of his position as inspector general in Sacramento.

Once he was locked out of the job in August, he said, he realized he was available and agreed to help.

“This is baffling to me,” Braziel said. “I would not have been in the Chicago mix had he not locked me out. I’d still be doing my job.”

Applications for the position are available online at Braziel, who has consulted nationwide on other police issues, has made no secret of the fact that he was pursuing the contract and discussed it during an interview at The Bee in December.

Documents show the Police Foundation proposal offers to have Braziel head the Chicago police monitoring team in a five-year, $14.2 million contract that would involve him and another co-monitor splitting time in the post.

The proposal from Braziel’s team that was submitted Sept. 4 – three weeks after Jones locked Braziel out – includes the McIntyre report as an example of Braziel’s work product.

Braziel says the foundation included that report and that his resume, which also was included, listed other shooting reports he has issued.

Jones contends in his letter to county officials that Braziel “needed to submit this one with its specific verbiage, analysis, and critical findings to enhance his application for this other prospective job.”

The sheriff contends Braziel released the McIntyre report “early” so he could include it in his application to Chicago; Braziel denies that, saying the report was issued when it was completed and that Jones knew by then that Braziel had questions about deputies’ actions that day.

“They knew all along I had issues with this shooting,” Braziel said, adding that the subsequent controversy “probably hurt any attempt at getting a job like this.”

Jones’ letter also notes that language elsewhere in the proposal says Braziel was ready to devote nearly all of his time to the Chicago job.

“There would be no problem with him committing 95 percent of his time to being the Independent Monitor and being appropriately accessible to the City, (Chicago Police Department) and the Chicago community, both on site and remotely,” the application states.

Braziel says the foundation wrote that language and that it was submitted only after he was locked out of his Sacramento job. He also notes that the “95 percent” reference applies to only half of the job because he planned to split his duties with a co-monitor.

But Jones contends that is evidence that Braziel had no intention of remaining as Sacramento inspector general after his contract expired even if Jones hadn’t locked him out.

“While certainly that is his right to opt out of renewal, the fact that he for months as this unfolded let members of the board, community groups and the media advocate for him publicly and vehemently, negotiate on his behalf for him to remain as Inspector General, and seek numerous legal opinions regarding his continuation – without saying anything to anyone – is appalling,” Jones wrote.

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Sam Stanton has worked for The Bee since 1991 and has covered a variety of issues, including politics, criminal justice and breaking news.
Molly Sullivan covers crime, breaking news and police accountability for The Bee. She grew up in Northern California and is an alumna of Chico State.