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How badge bending became a ritual among Vallejo police


  •   22 min reads
How badge bending became a ritual among Vallejo police
Former Vallejo police Chief Andrew Bidou, Officer Matthew Komoda, Officer David McLaughlin, and Officer Kevin Barreto at an awards ceremony in 2016. Komoda and McLaughlin were confirmed in court testimony to have bent their badges following on-duty shootings. Photo: Vallejo Police Department.
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DESCRIPTION: For the last two decades, some members of the Vallejo Police Department have bent the tips of badges belonging to officers after they were involved in an on-duty shooting. While the city promised to investigate, it has kept the findings of a third-party investigation under wraps. Now, a public defender is calling those officers to testify about the tradition, including a particularly violent former lieutenant who claims responsibility for starting the morbid tradition.

[Giordano entering courtroom]

HEALY: Alright, we’re back on the record. A few more questions here, Mr. Filloy?

In August of 2020… the City of Vallejo, California, hired a retired sheriff… with nearly three decades of law enforcement experience… to investigate claims that members of its police force bent the tips of their star-shaped badges… following an on-duty shooting.

The badge-bending revelations made national news…

BBBRoll [00:04]: “New at 11, disturbing allegations against members of the Vallejo Police Department that they had a tradition of officers bending their badges as a way to mark people they had killed.”

… and Vallejo’s police chief promptly confirmed… through two sources inside the department… that the morbid practice had been part of the department’s history.

BBBRoll [00:25] Williams: Celebrating the killing of a human being is never acceptable. And I'm deeply disturbed by these allegations.
BBBRoll [00:39] Williams: I'm doing an official inquiry into the department and the allegations. The inquiry will help me to understand the culture of the department in a greater way and to take corrective actions.

Over the next year… retired Sonoma County sheriff turned private investigator Robert Giordano interviewed past and present Vallejo police officers … who were suspected of bending their badges after they’d been involved in a shooting.

Former Sonoma County Sheriff Rob Giordano
Former Sonoma County Sheriff Rob Giordano sworn in to testify in court on badge bending. Photo: Brian Krans.

Giordano’s investigation… however… wasn’t that thorough… because he didn’t bother to check most officers’ badges… or with the company that would have fixed or replaced them.  

COURT1 [16:46]: The reality is it's so easy to fix the badge, so nobody's going to bring me a bent badge. So you can't inspect what they have and say there were no bent badges. It lost its value. It became less relevant.

Despite Giordano completing his 150-page report in September 20-21… it remains under lock and key… as the city’s attorneys argue it’s a personnel matter… and therefore shielded from even newly loosened state disclosure laws.

But one deputy public defender in Solano County is conducting his own investigation… as part of his defense of a Fremont man who survived being shot in the head by Vallejo police… following a vehicle chase that ended outside a school in East Oakland.

KOMODA: Shots fired. Shots fired. Officers okay. Shots fired. Twenty-second ave. Hands up! Both hands up!

[fade]

The court hearings for the defense of Dominic Milano have revealed… for the first time… specific details about who has been bending who’s badge following shootings… a practice that has gone on for nearly two decades… that the city continues to try and keep secret.

According to that testimony… badge bending among the ranks of the Vallejo Police Department … started in 2003 with an officer… Michael Tribble… who prefers to go by his middle name, Kent… and who came over from the Concord Police Department with his brother… Todd.

In Vallejo… Todd Tribble would wear badge number 5-87… and rise to the rank of Captain… while Kent Tribble would wear badge number 5-88… and make lieutenant.  

[2:54]

COLEMAN [6:13]: “He said, Don't say anything about this to anybody else. And me and my brother are the only ones who can bend someone's badge.”

I’m Brian Krans. I’m a reporter with the Vallejo Sun. In this podcast… we’re going to hear how one of Vallejo police’s lesser-discussed shootings is unraveling the department’s history of commemorating police shootings… with involved officers allegedly having the tips of their badges bent… potentially incentivizing officers to shoot… creating an overall violent police culture… propped up by a command staff and district attorneys office… that routinely clear officers of any wrongdoing.

And we’re also going to name those directly involved.

GIORDANO2 FILLOY [35:32]: The shootings were being investigated by the guys who have bent badges and who are sometimes bending their badges before they even finish investigating the shooting.

[fade under]

[Intro]

In the early afternoon of November 1st, 2018… a resident of Vallejo’s affluent Glen Cove neighborhood alerted a Vallejo police officer of an armed man sitting in a car. That man was Dominic Milano… a convicted felon who witnesses would later testify in court had a large stash of guns in his possession… including assault rifles and fully automatic weapons.

[body cam chirp]

MILANO BODY CAM: Should have fucking rammed him, dude.

[sirens and engine rev]

Soon… Milano and Vallejo Police Officer Matthew Komoda… badge number 665… and others were in a high-speed chase reaching 120 miles per hour… down Interstate 80. Other Vallejo officers followed as Milano led them into Alameda County and into Oakland.

[sirens]

Milano allegedly fired at officers… crashing his SUV into a pole at International Boulevard and 22nd Avenue… where he allegedly exchanged gunfire with the pursuing Vallejo officers.

VPD: Let’s see your fucking hands!

Body camera footage of the incident shows Milano wearing body armor and carrying an assault-style rifle…

BODY CAM: Body armor! Body armor!
KOMODA: He shot at us with an AR. An assault rifle. He has an assault rifle.
Officer 2: He has an assault rifle in his lap.

…and Vallejo officers firing back towards the northeast corner of the Community School for Creative Education… a K through 8 school in session that Thursday afternoon.

KOMODA: Better keep both those hands up, my man.  

Vallejo police shot Milano several times… including once in the back of the head.

Milano was hospitalized and survived. Prosecutors charged him with several felonies weeks later.

Milano would be Komoda’s third shooting in as many years. Each followed a vehicle pursuit… and two also involved his partner… Officer David McLaughlin… badge number 664.

[6:12]

[Body camera ambi fade out]

[Courtroom noise fade up]

Facing life in prison if convicted… Milano routinely appears in court wearing a white and black striped Solano County Jail prisoner uniform… and keeps his head neatly shaved… showing his bullet wound from Vallejo police.

Just like any other criminal defendant… Milano rarely speaks during his court appearances… instead letting his attorneys speak for him.  

[6:40]

GIORDANO2 FILLOY [29:00]: Your're right, Judge.

[fade under]

Part of the strategy from the Solano County Public Defender’s office in defending Milano is peeling back layers of the revelations that some Vallejo police officers… including Komoda… have celebrated on-duty shootings by bending the tips of their star-shaped badges… possibly offering those officers an incentive to shoot.  

Deputy Public Defender Nick Filloy argues that being inducted into the secret badge-bending club could help explain why the Vallejo Police Department remains a violent outlier among police departments in the Bay Area and California. Vallejo police have shot and killed 17 men since 2011… and subsequent police misconduct lawsuits have cost the city nearly 13 million dollars in the last decade… with another estimated 50 million in potential liability still outstanding.**

On March 22nd and 23rd of this year… several current and former Vallejo police officers and members of command staff took the stand to publicly acknowledge and discuss badge-bending.

[7:43]

TRIBBLE FILLOY [3:45]: As far as you know, were you the person who brought the tradition of badge bending to Vallejo or started in Vallejo?
TRIBBLE: Yes, sir. It was I.

One of them was former Lieutenant Kent Tribble… badge number 5-88. Before retiring last year after 18 years as Vallejo police… Tribble had a reputation for violence that earned him the nickname “Captain Taser.”

On Tuesday… March 22nd… Tribble testified that he came up with the idea to bend an officer's badge after a shooting… while eating a meal at the Peppermill restaurant as a Concord police officer in the year 2000. Tribble testified that fellow Officer Dan Golinveaux (go-lin-vo) bent his badge to make Tribble feel better… after shooting at a suspect from seven yards away… and missing him.

TRIBBLE [4:14]: He was letting me know that he appreciated my efforts, despite how bad I felt about my performance.

[fade under]

[8:40]

Back in 2003… Tribble transferred from Concord to the Vallejo Police Department… where he said he continued the badge bending tradition. One of the badges he apparently bent early on belonged to Officer Sanjay Ramrakha (RAM-raka)... badge number 581.

RAMRAKHA 0:06: Hello, I'm Lieutenant Sanjay Ramrakha with the Vallejo Police Department. I serve as the department's subject matter expert in force options, tactics and de escalation.

Ramrakha would later become an internal affairs investigator… and is currently heading the department’s efforts to reform its use of force policy. Here’s Ramrakha from a video about the reforms the department released earlier this year… explaining some of the events leading up to needing those reforms.

SANJAY [00:20]: In August of 2019, the city of Vallejo commissioned the OIR Group to conduct an independent assessment of the police department, which came on the heels of fatal officer involved shootings, strained police public relationships that prompted public concern and protest.
[00:47]: In June of 2020, the Vallejo Police Department entered into a three year collaborative reform agreement with the California Department of Justice…

In the video about policy changes… Ramrakha (RAM-raka) says Vallejo police’s policy reflects their values… which he says includes…

[2:18]: the sanctity of life, harm reduction, de-escalation… and accountability.

[fade]

[9:57]

Almost nine years later to the day… former Vallejo police officer Joshua Coleman… badge number 611… testified that Tribble bent his badge … after shooting 42-year-old William Heinze on March 20th, 2013. Coleman said after being interviewed by department detectives… Kent Tribble texted him to come to the Relay Club… a bar across Maine Street from Vallejo police headquarters.

[road noise]

That text message allegedly told Coleman to bring his metal badge with him. When he got to the bar… Coleman found Tribble… along with another officer who shot Heinze… Corporal Dustin Joseph… badge number 585.

COLEMAN 4:22: So I walked across the street. I walked into the Relay Club and I found Kent Tribble sitting at the table along with officer, sorry it was corporal at the time, Dustin Joseph.

Coleman testified that Tribble bent his badge while Joseph watched.  

COLEMAN 4:37: Kent Tribble sat me down, poured me a beer and then began to tell me about how it would be nice if there was a way that you could recognize people that you work with, for being people that you can trust in moments of chaos and trust with your life. At which point he asked me for my badge and bent one of the tip tips on my badge.

[Fade]

Dustin Joseph was one of Vallejo police’s most decorated officers before joining the Fairfield Police Department in 2019. He was also involved in three shootings. One of those led to a two-million-dollar settlement… when he and Officer Sean Kenney… badge number 620… shot and killed Mario Romero on September 9th, 2012. Kenney would kill three people in five months that year.

[road noise up]

At the Relay Club that fatal night in March 2013… Kent Tribble allegedly told Josh Coleman that the only people in Vallejo who could bend someone’s badge were he and his brother… Todd Tribble, badge number 587… who would eventually be promoted up to captain.

COLEMAN 5:35: [Fade up] …he continued stating that this was a tradition that he and his brother, Todd Tribble started in Concord. He told me that it's less to do with me being in an actual shooting and more to do with the manner in which I conduct myself around the department, as a professional.

Coleman is now a Napa County Sheriff’s Deputy. He didn’t want to sit down for an interview with Giordano for his outside investigation into badge bending in Vallejo…. but he was compelled to testify in the Milano case… because of a subpoena from the Solano County Public Defender's Office.

Coleman testified that he was “afraid” of Kent Tribble… including one incident reminiscent of the movie “Training Day.” Coleman said when he was a 20-year-old cadet… an elder Kent Tribble pulled a gun on him.  

COLEMAN 6:48: The first time that I met Kent Tribble on a ride-along working for the Vallejo Police Department, he put a gun to my head because I didn't put my seatbelt on. And so... moving forward in my lifetime with the Vallejo Police Department, I viewed Kent Tribble as a person that... I was very afraid of, to be to be frank. I was 20 years old, when that happened.

Coleman testified that he saw Tribble as a “reckless” person… but also a person he needed on his side… if he wanted to advance up the department’s ranks.

COLEMAN 7:43: That entire time working for the city of Vallejo, I viewed Kent Tribble as somebody who was a reckless person, but he was also somebody, somebody that people who are higher in the department respected, and so eventually he became my sergeant.

[13:58]

On July 13th.. 2014… Coleman shot 23-year-old Raephelle (Rah-fell) (Ray-fell) Kalen Martin Junior. Officers had been responding to a report of a man with a gun in the city’s Country Club Crest neighborhood. Martin allegedly fled on foot. Tribble and three other officers chased him...  but Coleman shot Martin from the window of his patrol car.

COLEMAN [10:28]: After that shooting occurred, which was an incredibly stressful moment. I was still in shock. And Kent came up to me, grabbed me by my shoulder, started me shaking in the street, talking and telling me that I stole his dinner in quotes.
FILLOY: Like he was saying that should have been his shoot?. And that he was angry to had you shot Mr. Martin instead of him?
COLEMAN: He was visibly shaking me and almost spitting on my face telling me that I stole his dinner.
FILLOY: I'm getting the meaning of that right?
COLEMAN: Yes

[fade out]

On August 31st, 20-16… Officers Matthew Komoda and David McLaughlin were working patrol in Vallejo when they tried to stop a dark Audi SUV for speeding. The vehicle soon came to a stop at a dead end street. Komoda and McLaughlin would soon tell investigators that as they were getting out of their car… the Audi started moving in reverse. Fearing they were going to be hit… they fired at the SUV… but neither hit the driver.

Tribble testified that after the incident… he bent both Komoda and McLaughlin’s badges at the Relay Club… to make them feel better for not shooting the driver of the Audi.

About six weeks later… on October 16th, 2016… Josh Coleman was involved in his fourth shooting as a Vallejo police officer. That one occurred outside of a Starbucks… where police said 41-year-old Adam Powell had tried to ambush Coleman and Officer Mark Galios… badge number 652… but Powell’s gun malfunctioned.

Both Coleman and Galios shot Powell… who survived and was acquitted at trial.

Tribble testified that he bent Coleman’s and Galios’s badges after that shooting.

[16:03]

FILLOY (TRIBBLE) 6:04:  Now, when you indicated that you bent Josh Coleman, and Mark Galio's badge after the Starbucks shooting in South Vallejo.
TRIBBLE: Yes.
FILLOY: Were they was that a similar situation where you felt they were beating themselves up about their tactical performance?
TRIBBLE: Not, not so much that is that they were pretty shaken and I don't recall what the time period was between when it occurred and when I bent their badges. They were really shaken…

[fade]

But… when it was Coleman’s turn to testify… he denied that happened.

FILLOY (COLEMAN) 11:34: So if I say to you, you and Mark Galios got your badges bent after the Starbucks shooting by Kent Tribble, 100 percent false?
COLEMAN: 100% False

In late 2016… Tribble was promoted to lieutenant... and twice confronted by Captain Lee Horton… badge number 543… about badge bending. Tribble testified the first time Horton told him QUOTE “What’s wrong with your badge?” And then… QUOTE “I know what that is and I don’t want to see it.” END QUOTE

[17:10]

FILLOY (TRIBBLE) 20:07: the first incident when you were confronted by Horton in 2016 about badge bending or around 2016, not necessarily in that year but sometime that timeframe, did you after being confronted by him that first time did you take any action to tell people to fix their badges or to get rid of, correct the tradition of badge badge in VPD after that first incident?
TRIBBLE: not necessarily, no, I was I was just, I was taken aback a little bit that’s all.

It was only after the second time that Horton confronted him that Tribble did anything about badge bending.

FILLOY, CONT.: so after the second time in 2018, when he when Horton approached you and he said it was a much, he was more upset and maybe a more formal conversation, you took, did you take some corrective action with regards to badge bending after that conversation in 2018?
TRIBBLE: I did. I contacted a few people, I believe.

[fade]

Tribble said that he told Officers Matthew Komoda… David McLaughlin… and Sergeant Jeremy Huff… badge number 5-86… that they needed to tell others that badge bending was over in the department. But despite his efforts to correct it… and saying he wanted to be a better role model… Tribble acknowledged that he also bent his own lieutenant’s badge.

[18:39]

FILLOY (TRIBBLE) 40:02: And when you're talking about the maturing so on and so forth, did you In fact, at some point bend your Lieutenant badge?
TRIBBLE: Yes I did.
FILLOY: And what happened with that?
TRIBBLE: so I was having a rough time. In that part of my career I had an incident occur in Bend, Oregon, that got highly publicized, had some some personal issues going on.

The incident Tribble referred to happened September 28th, 2014. He was drinking with two retired Vallejo police officers… Kevin Coelho and Kevin McCarthy… at a bar in Bend, Oregon. They got into a street fight that night… and witnesses later testified in a Solano County courtroom that Tribble pulled a gun during the fight.. more than 450 miles out of his jurisdiction.

BEND: The guy in the fucking striped shirt.
Motherfucker pulled a gun on us.
[00:37] AUDIO FOR BEND Aren't you a cop?
That's what I thought. Fuck you, you little pussy.

[fade]

In his recent court testimony… Tribble said the incident in Oregon and other emotional problems he was having led to him bending his lieutenant’s badge.

TRIBBLE, CONT. (40:35) And work seemed to be very seem to be already adversarial between my command staff and myself having had …Captain … Horton come in and accuse me of having a bent badge when I didn't, bothered me, it added to some of the things that I was already feeling and I think – some of this is conjecture on my part – probably well deserved based on my incident in Bend, Oregon. But I felt like there was a lot of additional pressure on me and some kind of suspicion. And one night I was at home not dealing with things well, and I started drinking. And I said, Well, if they're gonna accuse me of having a bent badge I'm going to bend it. And that's what I did.

While Coleman had testified that Tribble told him only he and his brother could bend badges… the practice spread throughout the department… with at least three other officers named as bending their colleague’s badges.

One thing that each officer has denied was that badges were bent multiple times for multiple shootings. But conflicting accounts and a lawsuit by a former police captain suggest that some officers did have more than one bend on their badge.

[RAMOS SHOOTING body cam]

[21:34]

In the early morning hours of January 23rd 2017… Officer Zachary Jacobsen… badge number 6-39… and his partner… Officer Matt Samida… badge number 6-36… responded to reports of a fight at a house on Sacramento Street. Jacobsen said he heard yelling and screaming… and saw several people fighting on a second story balcony… including 21-year-old Angel Ramos.

Jacobsen said he saw Ramos holding a large knife… so he shot and killed him. Ramos’s family denied he had a knife… and even Samida testified he didn’t see Ramos with that alleged knife.

RAMOS SHOOTING 2:05: Is my cousin okay?
VPD: I don’t know who your cousin is, bud. I don’t know.
COUSIN: He’s a young male.
VPD: I don’t know, bud. There’s a lot of young males here.
[squad door close]

[22:23]

In a report authored by then-Sergeant Sanjay Ramrakha… the department found that Jacobsen did not violate department policy. The Solano County District Attorney’s Office cleared Jacobsen of criminal charges the following year.

Jacobsen’s badge was bent after the Ramos shooting… but there are conflicting accounts of who did it and why.

According to Filloy… Jacobsen told Giordano that Detective Terry Poyser… who wore badge number 5-22 before retiring in 20-20… was the person who bent his badge.

But Tribble testified that he saw Coleman bend Jacobsen’s badge at the Relay Club…  an account that Coleman firmly denied.

FILLOY (COLEMAN) 11:46: Did you bend Zach Jacobsen's badge in a bar in front of Kent Tribble?
COLEMAN: No.
FILLOY: Did you bend Zach Jacobsen's badge at all?
COLEMAN: No.
FILLOY: Were you ever present when his badge was bent?
COLEMAN: No.

[fade out]

Filloy alleges that Jacobsen would soon bend another officer’s badge.

The night of February 13th 2018… Officer Ryan McMahon… badge number 702… noticed 33-year-old Ronell Foster riding his bicycle without a light. McMahon chased Foster into a backyard on Carolina Street… where a brief struggle ensued… and McMahon shot Foster seven times… including in the back of the head.

MCMAHON: 0:30: Shots fired 415 Carolina St…

Filloy said in court on March 22nd that Jacobsen bent McMahon’s badge for him after he killed Foster. By the time McMahon turned in his badge a year later… he had two bent tips.

[23:51]

[pause]

Tribble testified that he had instructed officers who bent each others’ badges not to tell anyone else about it… because he feared that it could become an incentive for violence. But he called the notion that he could keep that from happening “naive.”

TRIBBLE 38:22: A, we don't discuss this, because we wouldn't want to try to want to earn this thing. We don't know that was a big, big concern. Believing that that can actually occur is pretty naive and foolish, and in my personal opinion, reckless on my part.

But by then… Judge Healy said… Officer Ryan McMahon was “enthusiastically” engaging in badge bending.

HEALY (TRIBBLE) 37:52: Did you have any discussions with Officer McMahon about badge bending?
TRIBBLE: No sir.
HEALY: So if he was engaging in this sort of thing, enthusiastically, you have no idea of what might have caused him to learn this practice?

The Vallejo Police Department finally clamped down on the practice after the shooting of Willie McCoy on February 9th, 2019.

[body cam beeping]

MCMAHON: Go inside.
OFFICERS: Hands!
[gunshots]

Six officers fired 55 times into a silver Mercedes parked in a Taco Bell drive-thru… where McCoy was unresponsive… allegedly with a gun on his lap. McMahon arrived just as officers began shooting and fired one round from behind Officer Bryan Glick… badge number 6-72. McMahon was later fired for putting Glick’s life in danger.

Judge Healy told Kent Tribble in court that McMahon had gone “off the rails.”

HEALY (TRIBBLE) 38:51: And he went off the rails in a couple different ways. You had no knowledge you didn't bend his badge didn't…
TRIBBLE: I did not
HEALY: …discuss with him the meaning of such a thing alright. So, you recognize how this thing can evolve…

Shortly after the McCoy shooting… the Vallejo Police Department became aware that McMahon had added a plate to his gun with the words “Veritas” and “Aequitas," meaning “truth and justice” …a reference to the 1999 film Boondock Saints… where two brothers engage in vigilante justice.  

BDS: [1:14]: So we shall flow a river forth unto thee, teeming with souls shall it ever be. in nomine patris, et filii, spiritus sancti

As the alterations to his gun were investigated… McMahon turned in his badge with a bent tip. A captain took it to then-police Chief Andrew Bidou… badge number 6-77… who said that he would “handle it” …according to Joe Allio… badge number 7-38… who was an interim assistant chief when the scandal became public..

But Bidou had already heard of badge bending by then. Allio wrote an email to a PR firm that said Bidou told a sergeant in internal affairs about it… but no internal affairs case was ever opened.

In 2020, Captain John Whitney… badge number 5-54… filed a wrongful termination lawsuit alleging he was the captain who received McMahon’s badge… and he saw not one but TWO bent tips.

[27:00]

Here’s Whitney… in an interview with ABC7’s Melanie Woodrow… from December 2020.

BBBRoll Whitney [3:57]: The internal affairs sergeant had discovered that his badge was not sitting flush on the table and brought it to my attention and Chief Bidou's attention. And what we discovered is that the two points on the badge had been bent.

McMahon told Whitney those bends QUOTE “signified the two people he had killed in the line of duty” …according to Whitney’s lawsuit.

That lawsuit further alleges Whitney ordered all department supervisors to inspect officers’ uniforms and collect bent badges. They allegedly found about 10 badges with bent tips.

ABC7 [4:50]: Chief Andrew Bidou told me to get those badges returned to the officers and have them all repair them themselves and pay for the repairs themselves. He was afraid that if the badges had been returned to the badge repair company or the badge making company that it would generate a bill that finance would see and there'd be questions about why so many badges had to be repaired.

Whitney’s lawsuit says that he brought his concerns to then-City Manager Greg Nyhoff… then-City Attorney Claudia Quintana… and then-Mayor Bob Sampayan… a retired Vallejo police sergeant… who used to wear badge number 4-18. Still, there was no investigation.

Instead, Bidou moved to fire Whitney on August 26th, 2019.

[28:33]

[long pause]

In his testimony… Kent Tribble said he bent people’s badges because he thought he was helping them… as they were going through difficult ordeals.

TRIBBLE 34:54: Because these things are really hard on people on all sides of it and a lot of times, you know, as a guy that's been through it, you want to help another guy or gal get through it and let them know that there's at least someone there.

But… in retrospect… Tribble said he realized the harm that it was bound to cause.

TRIBBLE 35:24: I can look back and see that I was very myopic in some of the things I was doing. Here, I'm thinking, I'm helping people. I'm not paying attention to the bigger picture of the kind of exposure I'm giving not only myself, but them and the department with what I'm thinking is doing a good thing.

And for that… he told Judge Healy… he was sorry.

TRIBBLE 35:56: I, number one, created a liability for not only myself, my co workers in the department for perception. And number two,  I mean, there's already a tenuous public trust of the police. And my behavior did not do anything to help that. And for that, I'm sincerely sorry.

Whitney went public with allegations of badge bending in July 2020. Newly sworn-in Police Chief Shawny Williams… badge number 7-25… swiftly confirmed the practice… and promised a thorough outside investigation… by former Sonoma County Sheriff Rob Giordano.

Here’s Williams addressing badge bending in an interview with CNN’s W. Kamau Bell that aired last May.

BELL: I don’t have to tell you, Vallejo’s been through a lot. One of the things that has stuck with me has been the badge bending story that came out.
WILLIAMS [10:08]: I can just say that that matter is under investigation. Anyone who celebrates the killing of a human being by bending the badge is not fit to wear a badge.

Giordano finished his report more than a year after badge bending became public knowledge. So far, the report and its findings have been tightly guarded secrets… and the department has not disclosed taking any disciplinary action in response to it.

Giordano’s report is roughly 150 pages long… and contains numerous interviews with officers.  After reviewing it… Judge Healy questioned the value of Giordano’s investigation…

HEALY (COLEMAN) 42:15: One, there's probably many dozens of pages of people denying any knowledge of this thing. And just saying it's stupid. There's probably 20 different officers, who are who that's the totality of their statement. And then what there is is a lot of discussion pages and pages of discussion of management.

Judge Healy said the report characterizes some of the officers involved as “victims”... because Kent Tribble bent their badges against their will. But Healy said that conclusion was QUOTE “insane” …because none of the officers reported the behavior.

Still, some of the officers… like Josh Coleman… reiterated those feelings on the witness stand.

COLEMAN 12:25: If I could…
FILLOY: Yeah, go ahead.
COLEMAN: Um, I'm really fighting to control my emotions about this whole thing. Because I didn't ask for this to happen to me the first time. And I didn't ask. I didn't create this circumstance to be here in court talking about this today. So this is very upsetting for me to sit here and talk about something, especially if there's falsehoods being attributed to me and my involvement in this.

[fade]

When Deputy Public Defender Nick Filloy had Giordano on the stand… he repeatedly questioned him about how thorough his investigation was… showing where he missed key opportunities to find information about badge bending in the Vallejo Police Department… that officers might not have otherwise readily shared.

COURT2 [17:55]: FILLOY: Did you review the emails and invoices at the Vallejo Police Department for badges for prior years to see if badges had been fixed, replaced in a manner that would be suspicious or suggest?
GIORDANO: No.
FILLOY: No, you did not?
GIORDANO: Not at the Vallejo Police Department.
FILLOY: Was there a reason you did not do that?
GIORDANO: Uh. I’d have to explain. We went to the badge company…

[33:17]

Giordano said he didn’t request the records from the badge manufacturer… the Ed Jones Company in Berkeley… because he thought it was unlikely an officer would ask his department to fix a bent badge.

GIORDANO2  FILLOY: [20:38]: And so just to clarify your earlier answers, you've never seen an invoice from the Ed Jones Company, you've never seen an example of an invoice from the Ed Jones Company for the Vallejo Police Department?
GIORDANO: I have not.

Giordano also testified that his investigation didn’t include reviewing hundreds of pages of emails between the badge maker and Vallejo police.

GIORDANO2 FILLOY [21:15] If I asked you, you know, have you reviewed like hundreds of emails between the Ed Jones company and Vallejo Police Department?
GIORDANO: No.
FILLOY: No.

Following Giordano’s recent testimony… Judge Healy said he didn’t think much of his investigation.

GIORDANO1 HEALY [48:55]: I don't find his investigation to be thorough. I don't find his investigation designed to serve the needs of the community. It feels to me like he was seeking to thread some needle to satisfy various entities in a way that minimized blowback.

Filloy was even more critical of Giordano’s investigation.

GIORDANO2 FILLOY [28:26]: This investigation is a limitation of liability exercise done by a guy who is a professional, you know, apologist and cover up artist for police misconduct, which I have significant evidence from the past that Mr. Giordano is,  that is not something that should be afforded privilege.

Ultimately… Filloy wanted Judge Healy to release Giordano’s report to him and the public… as well as the audio recordings of his interviews with officers.

GIORDANO2 [18:28] FILLOY: I guarantee you that other officers mentioned these officers' names at some point. There's more information, it's cross cutting, I have a giant amount of information in my head about this stuff. I'm also going to put it to the court that, you know, I don’t just represent Mr. Milano being prosecuted by the Vallejo Police Department. This is an issue we're just going keep dealing with over and over.
HEALY: And I understand that. There are certain officers that I mentioned yesterday, then when they come up, I know it's coming.

Judge Healy didn’t rule to release the report or the recordings… saying he didn’t think they were relevant… necessarily… to Milano’s defense.

But… as Judge Healy has said in his courtroom before… it’s only a matter of time before the full truth comes out.

HEALY [54:28]: Alright, alright. Thank you very much.

[fade]

This has been a production of the Vallejo Sun. This episode was written and reported by Scott Morris and myself… Brian Krans. We had help gathering audio from our colleague John Glidden. Together, we are the Vallejo Sun.

To help support our work… consider subscribing to the Sun for as little as 50 dollars a year. You can become a member by visiting Vallejo Sun dot com slash membership.

Thanks for listening.

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