Police expert: Excessive shots by Chico officer Vest, when down, shot twice in back, and in back of neck

photo from “The Daily Show”
Former police officer and use-of-force expert Seth Stoughton interviewed by television host Trevor Noah.

by Dave Waddell

An ex-cop who researches police use-of-force issues says an excessive number of shots were fired by Chico police officer Tyler Johnson in his October killing of Stephen Vest.

At a Jan. 14 media briefing, Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey ruled that Johnson, who fired nine shots, and police Sgt. Nick Bauer, who shot twice, were justified in killing Vest and would face no criminal charges. Vest, 30, was in a meth-fueled mental crisis and holding a knife when shot.

Vest was hit by a total of eight police bullets, including six rounds from Johnson’s 9mm Glock. Johnson shot Vest twice in the chest, once in the shoulder, twice in the back, and once in the back of the neck. Video from Johnson’s body-worn camera indicates the neck shot came when Vest was on his knees, head bowed, falling forward. The barrage of bullets ended with two final rounds into Vest’s back as his midsection touched the asphalt. read more

Picking Chico’s police chief slowed by Covid-19 Reformist citizens group says it represents broad spectrum

photo by Karen Laslo
Emily Alma, coordinator of a police reform group that was wrongly accused of political disruption and now has support from a host of mainstream groups.

by Dave Waddell

Two years ago, the Chico Enterprise-Record’s conservative editorial writers – without a shred of cited evidence – suggested in an editorial that members of the police reform group Concerned Citizens for Justice (CC4J) were involved in political disruption and vandalism.

Leaders of CC4J fired back in letters that questioned the responsibility of the E-R’s brand of journalism.

The E-R’s portrayal of CC4J as an extremist group was as short-lived as it was baseless. In fact, today CC4J’s push for Chico to pick a reformer as police chief to succeed Mike O’Brien is attracting support from numerous organizations lodged securely in Chico’s mainstream. read more

Sheriff’s office responsive, Chico PD obstructive Two agencies, two different responses to our public records request

photo by Karen Laslo

Chico Police Chief Mike O’Brien

commentary by Dave Waddell

Last March, I spoke at a League of Women Voters of Butte County forum having to do with public access to law enforcement records.

That Sunshine Week forum, which included Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea and police reformers Emily Alma and Margaret Swick, gave me an opportunity to vent a bit about the most secretive public agency I’ve dealt with as a journalist: the city of Chico.

At the forum I said something that, if anything, is even truer today: Chico city government has no respect for the people’s right to know. read more