Investigations to look into officers at Nevada City’s violent protest
Nevada City officials said Friday that two separate investigations into officer misconduct or inaction during this month’s violent counter protest will be soon underway.
Nevada City Police Chief Chad Ellis told the council at its Friday special meeting that the department would begin an internal investigation into any officer complaints that day which would, as a personnel matter, remain confidential.
City Manager Catrina Olson has also retained an independent investigator to initiate an after action report to review what the police could have done differently which will be overseen by the city’s contracted legal firm.
During the meeting presenters who were at the protest gave accounts of their experience with the counter protesters and the police response, which they said showed either incompetence or complicity in the day’s events.
Ellis said officers on the scene described it as “chaos” and “overwhelming,” but took umbrage to the claim that they were acting in concert with the counter protesters.
According to Ellis, the department was not trained for the new elements presented that weekend: counter protesters, moving demonstrations, and no warning. He added if officers had immediately made arrests it may have made the situation worse and possibly more violent since the department was outnumbered.
“We rarely see them take to the street,” he said. “The one thing we didn’t have for this particular event was the warning.”
Ellis said now the department must take every rumor of possible demonstrations as an event that “has the potential to erupt.”
But Councilwoman Daniela Fernandez pointed out there have been counter protests in the county before.
“It’s the violence piece that’s new,” she said.
Councilman Doug Fleming noted many counter protesters were motivated by misinformation that violent Antifa protesters would be bussed in to loot businesses in the city. Some public comments claiming to be from counter protesters said they had to protect the town from protesters trying to burn it down.
According to Ellis, three or four aggressors have been identified, but some incidents of clearly recorded violence are lacking victims to come forward and make a complaint.
City Attorney Crissy Hodgson advised the council not to discuss police personnel matters during the meeting in order to comply with state regulations, and to redact specific allegations of misconduct from the public comments.
According to Hodgson personnel matters are within the authority of the city manager and not the council.
The council opted not to move forward on an enforceable permit ordinance, but encouraged any demonstrators to make city officials aware of any protests events going on, particularly if they will require street closures.
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