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Policing the Police

Ukiah isn’t Detroit. Or Chicago, where two years ago the city spent more than $113 million on lawsuits involving police misconduct. But neither is Mendo an island, as shown by residents who, in spite of the fact that blacks make up a scant .07 percent of the county’s population, recently turned out to peacefully protest the most recent killings of unarmed black men by white police officers. 

The issue is sadly nothing new; I remember running down Market Street ahead of a looting mob after the 1992 acquittal of four white police officers charged with killing Rodney King in South Central Los Angeles. But few would argue that social media and a Smartphone in every pocket have together turned up the volume on these killings, which in turn are morphing into a flurry of newly proposed use-of-force regulations for police across the country. 

One of the most visible efforts is the national 8CantWait (#8cantwait) campaign, the brain child of Campaign Zero, an organization founded by activists five years ago dedicated to, according to its website, “providing an agenda to end police violence.” The eight stated limits to the use of police force basically cover warnings to suspects, bans on chokeholds and carotid restraints, shooting at moving vehicles, and adoption of de-escalation tactics meant to turn down the emotional temperature of police/suspect encounters that could, unchecked, turn violent. 

Many states are in a big hurry to adopt some or all of the eight, including California, though Mendocino County Sheriff Matt Kendall told me recently that, practically speaking, most do not apply to Mendo. “These are pretty much all of the things we’re doing already,” he said, adding that chokehold restraints were outlawed in the county years ago. Kendall said that he does take issue with two of the proposed actions: shooting at moving vehicles and informing a suspect, even if armed, before using deadly force. “If I’m in an alley and a car starts coming toward me, what are my choices?” he asked, rhetorically. Ditto for the forewarning in other circumstances, using as an example a suspect who pulls a gun on a deputy as he steps out of his patrol car. These split-second decisions are the two points with which Kendall takes issue for practical application in the day-to-day policing world. 

Kendall said that the Mendocino County Sheriff’s department started looking at both officer and inmate injuries because of the jail. “Almost every fight, every tussle, goes to the ground,” he said, adding that hitting the jail’s concrete floor with your elbows and knees might not hurt right away but will the next day. He said that deputies also have to intervene in fights inmates have with each other, a situation he says has been aggravated by the state’s prison realignment, which due to prison overcrowding transferred many state prison inmates considered to be nonviolent back to county jails. 

Kendall scoffed at the distinction. “You could have a guy with a rap sheet as long as your arm but if his last crime is classified as nonviolent – say, as a commercial instead of a residential burglary – he qualifies for county jail.” 

The drug issue further muddies the waters. “If somebody dies of a meth overdose on a park bench that would be a tragedy,” he said. “But if that person is taken into custody we are responsible for the meth, too.” 

As far as mentally unfit deputies go, Kendall said that everyone who gets hired is a peace officer and undergoes psychological testing. “If two things pop up – if someone is prone to violence or can’t handle violence – we don’t want those people. No deputy wants to work with someone who is prone to violence.   

Kendall walked over to his speaker phone several times during our interview to answer budget questions from an ongoing supervisors’ budget meeting. 

It happened that the day we spoke was the day that his budget had to be finalized. Law enforcement has historically been cushioned from budget cuts relative to many other departments, though currently about a third of the department’s positions are unfilled. Economic fallout from the coronavirus was blamed for an especially grim budget shortfall, though Kendall said he will be able to fill four positions, and will also be able to fill vacancies as they come up during the coming budget year. “We don’t have a lot of money right now due to Covid-19,” he said. “It’s the kind of thing where everybody is looking for somebody to blame – it’s human nature. I guess you can go out and shake your fist at God or you can accept what’s going on.”  

As for deputy diversity, Kendall told me that the department’s make-up mirrors the county itself. “We’ve got the sons and daughters of loggers, cowboys, field workers, and others,” he said. He added that the deputy age distribution isn’t a problem. “We have a split now, younger and older deputies,” with little in between. “It depends on who comes out of the police academy,” he explained. “It’s like going to the grocery store. They have peppers or they don’t have peppers.” He joked that when his wife asked him what he wanted for his birthday he said that he wanted to be 37 again.  

3 Comments

  1. Sean Smith May 20, 2021

    Captain Kendall tampered with evidence and coroner case number Coro 7 – 390 a bloody t-shirt and bloody pants if tested would have exonerated Michael Marlin of murder.

    I’m writing to you today in search of legal council on behalf of my brother, Michael Marlin, who was wrongly convicted of 2nd degree murder and given a sentence totaling more than 48 years– of which he has already served 14 years. This incident occurred in the small town of Willits, CA in defense of himself and our mother, Kelly Marlin. However, the evidence supporting this fact was destroyed (intentionally and against clear policy if you read below) by the officers first to arrive at the scene who were known lifelong friends of the “victim,” James Redenius. There is also clear misconduct on behalf of the district attorney prosecutor, Jill Ravitch, who suppressed evidence that the lead investigating officer, Jacob Donahue, had knowledge from multiple sources that decedent James Redenius attacked Kelly Marlin and fired a gun at Micheal during the incident, which would have led to the Jury not finding Michael guilty of murder.

    In 2020, SB 978 required sheriff’s departments to post policy and procedure online. After reviewing Mendocino county sheriff-coroner policy and procedure (associated with death investigation report #Coro 7-390 decedent James Redenius) we discovered that there are collectively over 115 policy and procedure violations in this case.

    In Dec 2020, we discovered that there was supposed to be a Sheriff property receipt attached to the death investigation report and that the evidence in question never made it to the evidence room (no log number exists). It appears that Captain Kendall (listed as officer on report) tampered with and destroyed evidence by giving the bloody t-shirt and pants to the decedent’s mother Mrs. Silva, illegally, without a lawful request from the district attorney.

    The death investigation report (page 5) states, “I released the previously seized corner’s property to the decedent’s mother…” The report says that Miss Silva signed for the property (referring to her signing a Sheriff property receipt that also doesn’t exist).

    Silva would have also had to obtain a court order to pick up the evidence from the property room, and make a request from the evidence technician. None of the lawful orders were obtained to release the evidence and the officers would have known this. We discovered this after reading policy and procedure, which became available to the public due to SB 978, so this should be newly discovered evidence. If this evidence was tested for gunshot residue, it’s likely that the jury would have found Michael Marlin not guilty of murder.

    Michael’s defense attorney, Keith Faulder, tried to expose officers Donahue, Kendall, Verdot, Barney, and others, for destroying the previously seized coroner’s property (“bloody black T-shirt, bloody camouflage pants, white underwear”), as well as suppressing evidence to the jury that Redenius shot at Michael and had a gun. The two pages of trial transcript attached demonstrate clear misconduct by district attorney Ravitch and Judge Nelson allowing suppression of exculpatory evidence to the jury (exhibit 1 below).

    Currently we are seeking legal help for exoneration of my wrongfully convicted brother. We believe the above needs official investigation and have also found what we believe to be new evidence sufficient for a writ of habeas corpus. Police in this case have a long history of covering up the victim’s past crimes and we have extensive evidence of this claim as well as clear evidence that policies and procedures were not followed, which led to the destruction of exculpatory evidence in Michael’s case.

    Backstory.

    Background on the case: Link to Federal District Court writ of habeas corpus. During this appeal Judge commented in his conclusion:

    “I’m struck by the failure of local law enforcement to find and arrest Redenius for one of his many violent attacks on citizens of the community. If the police would have acted with greater direction and resolve the tragic event in this case would probably not have happened.”

    Link to appeal: https://law.justia.com/cases/california/court-of-appeal/2011/a123166/

    Background Story:

    On 12-13-07, James Redenius was punching his pregnant girlfriend Amanda Oswaldt in the face at a diner in Willits, Mendocino County, CA. The defendant’s mother, Kelly Marlin, requested for him to stop slugging her. Redenius turned to Kelly, grabbed her by the throat, threw her to the ground and began repeatedly kicking her in the face with his boots giving Kelly a broken nose, two black eyes, and a bloody chunk missing from her face. A small girl by the name of Crystal Mayer tried to help pull Redenius off of Kelly. James responded by decking Crystal in the face. Then decedent ran to his illegal commercial marijuana grow residence which was two blocks from willits PD.

    According to the 911 operator, “Kelly Marlin can get a restraining order but it’s not going to do much good against that guy.” (Not” Mendo. Sheriff will protect you”)

    From 12 – 13 – 0 7 through 12-16- 07 Michael + Kelly learned, from many character witnesses that knew of his past conduct, that he was allowed to assault anyone in town with no repercussions from law enforcement. Mendocino residence would say OMG, what happened to your mom’s face!?!. Wow, who did that? Oh Redenius, good luck. You better protect your mother because the police will not. A witness said that James went to high school with officer Donahue.(that they worked at a video store together?) Michael and Kelly learned of his extensive history of attacking people.” Willits PD+Mendocino county sheriff’s department officers were friends with him and had a long history of covering up his past crimes,evidenced by six police reports for 8 assaults with no arrest no charges. People kept telling them that the town will protect Kelly.

    Chief coroner Shannon Barney is listed as an officer that refused to arrest Redenius or charge him after one of three assaults on John Simmons.

    Officer Heaney took report number 2 from Kelly and explained to her that they knew where he lived, we’re going to arrest him, don’t worry, and that the charges were already on the district attorney of Mendocino counties desk. False statements.

    At trial officer Heaney admitted that he never did anything to try and find or arrest Redenius for the assault on three women. At trial Heaney admitted that he lied about charging decedent for the three assaults on 100lb Crystal mayer, assault on over 50 Kelly Marlin, assault on pregnant Amanda Oswaldt.

    Officer Heaney didn’t even charge decedent for the assault on pregnant Amanda or Crystal. Heaney admitted at trial that he didn’t really charge decedent, he lied to Kelly Marlin at willits PD. At trial, officer Heaney admitted that he only charged decedent and he only charged decedent 11 days after his death. A clear cover up!

    Federal district Judge Donato in Marlins case conclusion said,

    “I’m struck by the failure of local law enforcement (in Mendocino) to find and arrest Redenius for one of his many violent attacks on citizens of the community. If the police would have acted with greater direction and resolveds the tragic event in this case would probably not have happened.”

    Judge David Nelson made a ruling in defendant Michael Marlins case.

    Judge Nelson made an extremely bad/ illegal ruling in this case that 2 attorneys missed on appeal.

    Judge Nelson ruled that the defense attorney Keith Faulder can not tell the jury that police officers(Captain Kendall 2316) destroyed exculpatory evidence, falsified reports, tampered with audio statements made to officer Donahue by Kelly Marlin. Faulder was only allowed to ask if police officers did a gunshot residue test on decedent James Redeniu. it’s clear that the district attorney Jill Ravitch SUPPRESSED EVIDENCE THAT THE LEAD INVESTIGATOR OFFICER JACOB DONAHUE HAD KNOWLEDGE THAT THE DECEDENT JAMES REDENIUS ATTACKED KELLY MARLIN and FIRED A GUN AT MICHAEL ON 12 – 16 – 07 and that MICHAEL IS NOT GUILTY OF MURDER!

    ACCORDING TO POLICE REPORT BY OFFICER DONAHUE, AFTER KELLY WAS ATTACKED , SHE HEARD LOTS OF GUNSHOTS. SHE THOUGHT REDENIUS WAS “SHOOTING AT MICHAEL MARLIN!!!”

    Immediately after the shooting officer Donahue interviewed witness Rachel Oliveri who told officer Donahue that she heard two different gun shots.(as if fired by two different guns) Up to nine shots.

    Her story exactly corroborates defendant Michael Marlin’s trial testimony,which was he shot in defense of his mother and himself, AFTER REDENIUS ATTACKED KELLY MARLIN AND THREW HER ON THE GROUND, AGAIN, A SECOND TIME! (Kelly told officer Donahue that she believed she got her bloody knee when Redenius shoved her, causing her to fall. She then thought Redenius was shooting at Michael because she heard lots of shots (as if fired by two guns) (there was other statements made but police officers erased a portion of the audio interview)

    A 3rd exculpatory statement was made to officer Donahue, according to officer training, Donahue should have done gunshot residue test on decedent, who he admitted knowing personally, however DONAHUE did not recuse himself from the investigation.

    Any question that had to do with exposing officer Donahue for misconduct, the district attorney, JILL RAVITCH suppressed that evidence by objecting!

    The judge and district attorney Jill Ravitch suppressed evidence of officers tampering with evidence, lying on the stand, falsifying reports about destroying evidence by sustaining the District attorney’s objections.

    Judge David Nelson then lambasted defense attorney Keith Faullder for trying to expose the misconduct. Judge Nelson scolded Faulder and yelled, YOU ARE PUSHING IT… FAULDER!!!

    Everything you need to know about this misconduct is in two pages of transcript. It’s clear, officer Donahue lied on the stand to the jury about not having any knowledge that the decedent, his close personal friend James Redenius contact Kelly Marlin and then fired a gun at Michael., 6 police reports with no arrest no charges for 8 assaults on two old ladies and two pregnant women , a young girl, and John Simmons 3 times, three reports no arrest no charges!

    When defense attorney Keith FAULDER was cross-examining lead investigator officer Donahue, Faulder was trying to expose Capt.kendall for illegally destroying exculpatory evidence that was listed on death investigation report (coro7-390 as previously seized coroners property, a bloody black T-shirt, bloody camouflage pants, white underwear.

    Officers falsified several reports to destroy evidence and falsified other reports to cover it up. (all the evidence is in the transcript)

    (2 pages of transcript that shows that district attorney Jill Ravitch sent a not guilty man to life for 50 years and two life sentences to better her career before election).

    Defense attorney Keith Faulder tried to expose the misconduct but got shut down by the judge. cross-examination of officer Donahue, district attorney Jill ravitch, judge Nelson trial transcript: (please let me know if you can’t read transcript)

    Faulder questioning officer Donahue if he had any evidence that the decedent shot a gun at Michael Marlin?

    Officer Donahue replied and lied, by saying no.

    Below are exerpts from sheriff coroner policy and procedure manual and the death investigation report for Michael Marlin/James Redenius incident. Policy and procedure pics from coroner office and district attorney office links.

    Mendocino county Head sheriff Matthew Kendall destroyed evidence in a murder case and then covered it up.

    Friday February 12th I received this email below from Chief coroner Mendocino county

    Argument: (if Matthew Kendall ID 2316 never worked in the evidence room at that time how did he release and destroy exculpatory evidence going against all policy and procedure? It appears that his signature was forged to destroy the evidence and then Michael Davis signature forged to cover it all up) we need investigation to uncover this claim and get to the truth.

    How come Shannon Barney signed the death investigation report with over a hundred and fifteen policy and procedure violations, falsified reports, missing bloody t-shirt bloody pants?

    Mendocino county sheriff’s department will not give us answers after they said they will.

    If you can help with this case by investigating 4 legal help please contact

    Nic Marlin:

    Rick Marlin:

    Exhibit 1:

    FAULDER: Q. Okay….now, I am a little confused on a couple of final points, since you are the lead officer of this investigation…… Did you do a gunshot residue test on Kelly Marlin?

    Officer Donahue: No.

    FAULDER: Who did a gunshot residue test on Kelly Marlin?

    Officer Donahue: I think it was detective Caudillo

    (note: according to a telephone call on 12-23-2020 with Mendocino County Sheriff Coroner evidence technician Cynthia Bartley, detective Caudillo never turned in the missing evidence (bloody t-shirt, bloody pants, white underwear) to the property room as reported on the death investigation report. Bartley admitted that there were no log numbers.)

    FAULDER: you assumed he (detective CAUDILLO) did?

    FAULDER: why did he do a gunshot residue test on Kelly Marlin?

    Officer Donahue: I wanted them to do it.

    (note: referring that Donahue wanted gunshot residue test done on Kelly Marlin as part of the investigation)

    FAULDER: It’s something you would have ordered done because it’s part of your investigation……Correct?

    Donahue: correct.

    FAULDER: why would you have ordered a gunshot residue test done?

    Donahue: because she was closely related to the incident that happened.

    FAULDER: she was at the scene of a shooting?

    Donahue: correct.

    FAULDER: or at least that’s what you believed at the time?

    Donahue: At the scene connected to a possible suspect.

    FAULDER: and you personally did The gunshot residue test on Mike Marlin?

    Donahue: Yes.

    FAULDER: Did you do one on james redenius?

    Donahue: No, I did not.

    FAULDER: why not?

    Donahue: At the time I had no physical evidence that led me to believe that he possessed a firearm.

    (Note: This is a lie! Officer Donahue had three statements suggesting there was another shooter. Neighbor Rachel Oliveri told lead investigator officer Donahue that she heard two different sounding gunshots, as if fired by two different guns, and up to 9 shots. Michael had a six-shooter. Kelly Marlin gave statement to officer Donahue. She thought Redeniushad knocked her down when he shoved her and that’s how she got her bloody knee. After (the attack) she heard “lots and lots of shots.” She stated that she thought Redenius was shooting at Michael. Neighbor Brian corzilius told officer Donahue that Kelly Marlin told him, “Michael starts shooting, Redenius fires back.”)

    FAULDER: did you have any evidence that he possessed a firearm?

    District attorney Jill Ravitch: JUDGE, I’m going to have to object. Based upon…

    (Note: Right here the prosecutor suppressed evidence to the jury of Officer Donahue having knowledge that decedent attacked Kelly Marlin, and after the attack, that’s when Michael started shooting but the decedent had a gun and was shooting too! The prosecutor and judge had knowledge that defendant Michael Marlin was not guilty of murder and was defending his mother! There was evidence of self-defense defense of another and the prosecutor and judge suppressed it. Faulder was trying to expose Captain Kendall for tampering with evidence and destroying the bloody clothing before defense could test it for GSR.)

    JUDGE NELSON: SUSTAINED

    FAULDER: Okay, even though you didn’t have any physical evidence, did you have any INFORMATION THAT WOULD HAVE LED YOU TO DO GUNSHOT RESIDUE TEST?

    Jill Ravitch: Juuuuudge

    (Note: the district attorney longly objected. The district attorney and judge knew that officer donahue had three exculpatory statements that would have led officer donahue to do a gunshot residue test on decedent james redenius as part of his investigation. Captain Kendall is listed on the death investigation report as the officer that tampered with evidence by destroying a bloody t-shirt, camouflage pants, and white underwear listed on the death investigation report as previously seized corners property by allegedly giving the clothing to the decedent’s mother so gunshot residue test could not be done!)

    (Note: On page 1229 of transcripts, Judge Nelson shuts defense up when he starts to expose destruction of evidence)

    FAULDER: I’m curious to know why the prosecution didn’t do a gunshot residue test on Mr. Redenius. It would make my job a lot easier if I could show you here, here is the evidence that Redenius fired a gun.

    (note: When Faulder tried to expose the officer’s misconduct again then, the judge shut him up, again!)

    JUDGE: (Judge Nelson interrupted)…”FAULDER WHENEVER YOU GET TO A SPOT WHERE YOU THINK YOU CAN TAKE A BREAK.”

    • Bruce Anderson May 21, 2021

      I seriously doubt that then-Captain Kendall would hide or otherwise tamper with crime scene evidence, but good luck finding a church mouse lawyer around here to take it on.

  2. Sean Smith May 21, 2021

    Mendocino county Sheriff complaint number 21 – 7. The complaint is focused on Sheriff Captain Matthew Kendall conspiring to tamper with and destroy exculpatory evidence in a death investigation report and then covering it out by removing the Sheriff property receipt that was supposed to be attached to the death investigation report. The Sheriff property receipt says that all seized property is evidence and shall not be removed.

    That is falsifying a report number one.

    We just discovered falsified report # 3

    Evidence technician Scofield falsified the evidence property report and said that nothing was missing except for a photograph. right next to the report it is previously seized corners property with a missing bloody t-shirt bloody pants. Sheriff’s officers destroyed the evidence before the defense could test it for gunshot residue. Defense attorney Keith Faulder tried his best to expose these corrupt cops but he went up against a whole Sheriff department by himself and a prosecutor that suppress three witness statements that were EXCULPATORY!!! Every time Keith Faulder try to expose officer misconduct in that case judge David Nelson called for recess. In closing arguments, according to a transcript, Keith try to explain to the jury that the District attorney’s office didn’t do gunshot residue test on the decedent and if they did then he would have evidence that the decedent shot at his client. Judge David Nelson said, Faulder, let’s go to break, suppressing all evidence of Officer misconduct.

    Defendant Michael Marlin’s case is the most railroaded case in California’s history , that I’ve come across. I agree that it’s true that it will be difficult to find an attorney local that has backbone but they do exist. Judge David Nelson has been reported to three judicial misconduct boards. The FBI and attorney general need to get involved. That’s next.

    Every step of the way Captain Van Patten has refused to give complaint number, log number, or receipt, or any proof that the complaint has actually been filed. Mendocino county Sheriff policy is 3 days. 3 days a supervisor supposed to call and give a complaint number. It took over 2 months. And it was forced. And it’s highly doubtful that the Mendocino county sheriff’s department actually filed the complaint officially. That’s okay. Every step of the way when they are supposed to go right they are going left. It’s expected.

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