City Decides to Destroy 20 Years Worth of Police Misconduct Records

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May 2008, Officer Brian Ragan gunned down 19-year-old Michael Bayoune at a Rally’s in Inglewood, Calif., Bayoune was unarmed and had not made any threats but Ragan mistook the teenager for a gang member and opened fire.


An internal investigation cleared Ragan of any wrongdoing.

A few days later in May 2008, Ragan knocked on the door of Kevin Wicks. Wicks answered the door at his home with a gun in his hand, so Ragan shot him dead. It turned out Ragan had knocked on the wrong door and the city of Inglewood was ordered to pay a settlement to Wicks’ family.

An internal investigation cleared Ragan of any wrongdoing.

Then there was the time Ragan beat up Eduardo Carranza during a 2006 arrest. Also, he was caught on tape brutally attacking Rene Melendez on camera. According to court documents, these resulted in internal investigations but didn’t result in Ragan getting fired for any form of police brutality.

No one really knows how many people Brian Ragan brutalized during his time working for the Inglewood Police Department. And no one will ever likely know now that the Inglewood Police Department is planning to shred all of the files.

Because... space.

One day after the California legislature passed a new law giving the public access to police records, that California city announced it would destroy records covering 20 years of police shootings. But don’t worry, it’s probably a coincidence. They’re just trying to save space!


On Jan. 1, 2019, Senate Bill 1421 will go into effect in California. The new law will allow the public to view internal investigations records of police departments, including police shootings, lying on duty, and sexual assault. The new state law is not time-specific. Instead, it makes every internal investigation a matter of public record.

So, in a totally unrelated decision, the city council of Inglewood, Cali., which has been beset for years by allegations of police brutality and lawsuits for on-duty police killings, decided to change the city’s policy and destroy internal documents dating back to 1991, a period that covers nearly 150 officer-involved shootings, according to the East Bay Times. 


Inglewood’s law previously stated that records should be kept for a minimum of 25 years, but the city decided to change the rule just before the new state law goes into effect, meaning the city can legally shred or discard the case files. Curiously, the city’s new resolution only covers files on police shootings, use of force, and administrative reviews, even though the order says that the changes were needed to destroy files that “occupy valuable space, and are of no further use to the police department.”

“This premise that there was an intent to beat the clock is ridiculous,” Mayor James T. Butts, who is a former police chief, told the Los Angeles Times.


Inglewood has a long history of police violations, the East Bay Times reports:

The records slated for destruction include four fatal officer-involved shootings over a four-month period in 2008. In one instance, officers shot a homeless man 40 times. In another, Officer Brian Ragan shot postal worker Kevin Wicks after responding to the wrong apartment.

Ragan also was involved in the fatal shooting of Michael Byoune roughly a month before, and in the beating of Rene Melendez just days before he killed Wicks. The officer was cleared by the department for the shootings, but later fired in 2010 for copying internal affairs documents, according to a lawsuit in which the white officer alleged discrimination. That case was thrown out by a judge.


In 2010, the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division notified the Inglewood Police Department that nearly all of its policies were outdated. But Butts insists that his department is now a “model,” despite a February 2016 incident in which officers opened fire on a black couple sleeping in their car, which his department is still reviewing nearly three years later.


But don’t worry. In two more years, I’m sure the city of Inglewood will be cleared of any wrongdoing.

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