Sergio Robles' drunk driving cover up - Elk Grove refuses to release body camera video of council member's arrest

Requests by Elk Grove News and an Elk Grove resident for Elk Grove Police to release the vehicle and police officer videos of the arrest of Elk Grove City Councilmember Sergio Robles have been denied. Elk Grove Police arrested the first-term city council member on the morning of Saturday, May 20.

Elk Grove Police officers reportedly located Robles passed out in a running vehicle in the Raley's grocery store parking lot on Elk Grove Boulevard on the city's west side. Social media videos showed Robles celebrating the night before at the AAPI Market Night event in downtown Sacramento where he reportedly had access to a hosted bar. 

In making their determination to protect Robles from scrutiny for his admitted drunken behavior, the city sent Elk Grove News and the other party seeking the video denials citing California government codes §7923.600 and §7922.000.   

Under new California video camera disclosure laws, police videos must be released in an officer-involved shooting, an assault,  the death of a suspect, or sustained findings of officer[s] misconduct.  

According to attorney David Loy with the San Rafael, Calif.-based First Amendment Coalition, the city can exempt the video from release. Loy noted §7923.600 allows exemption from release pending investigation of an incident. 

Furthermore, Loy noted, once exempted from release, "They remain permanently exempt from disclosure regardless of whether the investigation is closed."

He added, "I appreciate that this exemption can be highly frustrating to the extent it prevents the public from assessing how ad to what extent the police conducted an investigation."

When asked if there was anything that prevented the police from releasing the video, Loy said there was not. Loy cited Govt. Code § 7921.500; Marken v. Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School Dist., 202 Cal. App. 4th 1250, 1262 (2012).

"Generally, unless disclosure is specifically prohibited, the CPRA's (California Public Records Act) exemptions are permissive rather than mandatory, and an agency may choose to release certain records even if it is allowed to withhold them," Loy said. "I'm not aware of anything that prohibits voluntary disclosure of matters covered by the investigatory records exemption."

Compared to Elk Grove's refusal to release the Robles video, last summer, the city voluntarily released the police video of the dog Zeus being taken by city animal controls officers and Elk Grove police officers. However, according to the family members of Ms. Faryal Kabir, the owner of the dog that was summarily euthanized weeks later, the release was initiated as a punitive measure, prejudicial, and the city was not forthcoming with a thorough explanation of the circumstances. 

In a statement to Elk Grove News, the attorneys, and plaintiffs suing the city in state and federal lawsuits who identify as the Zeus Legal Team said:

“The City of Elk Grove will misrepresent the facts and release videos to suit its needs, while withholding others when the issue is fitness of one of its council members to serve.  As seen in this news story it released last year about Zeus the one-year-old GSD that it had misrepresented had bit “two” people, it even went so far as to misrepresent Zeus bit “three” people on this news story”

In the Zeus case, the city freely released the video to serve its purposes, but for a public official, the standard is different. 

For admitted drunk driver Councilmember Robles, a different standard was applied. Elk Grove Mayor Bobbie Singh-Allen, Vice Mayor Kevin Spease, council members Rod Brewer and Darren Suen, and the city's public employees executives have chosen to cover up and protect one of the very persons entrusted to ensure community safety and conduct the people's business by not releasing his arrest videos. 

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Renegade said...

We recently lost one of our own officers to a drunk driver, yet our own chief refuses to show objective footage of the arrest of a drunk driver because he's a councilman? I wonder what Officer Lenehan's widow thinks about that?
What about Officer Lenehan's fellow officers?
This can't set well with any of them and it shouldn't set well with our citizens who should expect equal protection under the law. Would my body cam video be denied should I be arrested and a valid request for information be submitted? I think not. The city is employing Gestapo-type policies to protect their own. I guess Chief Davis is afraid if he acts ethically here, he may lose some of that Measure E money for future PD needs. Easy to see where his priorities and ethics lie. Shame on all of you!

D.J. Blutarsky said...

Yes, I remember when the City didn't hesitate to peddle their body cam footage of Zeus snapping at an officer to all of the local television stations. What the tape didn't show was the botched up taped box they put Zeus in--which ultimately fell apart, and down went euthanized Zeus tumbling to the pavement. 

As for the Sergio tape, too bad Saturday Night Live can't fill in the blanks and reenact that fateful morning Sergio was parked at the grocery store catching a few zzzzs. I can see the skit now...officer asks him to tilt his head back and touch his nose, and he touches the officer's nose instead! Then the officer asks him to walk the white line, and he trots along the parking space white lines right over to the nearby Panda Express and tugs at the locked door, yelling he has the munchies and wants his breakfast burrito now! 

Neo Elk Grove said...

With his drunk driving, council member Robles has confirmed that the Elk Grove government will protect their own and when it suits their purposes, throw Joe Q. Public to the wolves. They have no integrity.

Steve L said...

This could be what is commonly referred to as a teachable moment; expose the video of a disoriented citizen being handled professionally and politely by our trained officers. Instead it seems this situation may not have been as it’s been portrayed. That’s what is left for citizens to imply by the PDs failure to submit the body cam video per a legal request for a valid reason. I have to believe the EGPD rank and file officers see this as total disrespect for them and what they do.

Eye on Elk Grove said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Capt. Benjamin Willard said...

Even though it is not apparent who had the final say in the decision to cover up the matter for the benefit of Mr. Robles, the opinion of Police Chief Davis undoubtedly carries significant weight. If Chief Davis had used his influence, Mr. Behrmann would have undoubtedly allowed the release of the video.

This matter has been handled poorly on every level by the mayor and city council, and now the civil servants. It is a stain on their integrity that will haunt Chief Davis and others in authority that will not be easily or quickly washed away.

As Vice Mayor Kevin Spease said during the recent city council you earn trust by tablespoons but lose it by buckets. Indeed, they have lost a dump truck of trust with this cover up.

Kearney Zzyzwicz said...

I'm sure if it was Steve Ly who was arrested or any of our current mayors attackers they would be playing the body cam footage on the big screen at district 56!

Eye on Elk Grove said...

All I can say is that Elk Grove Police Chief Bobby Davis has a long way to go to even walk in the shoes of his predecessors, Robert Simmons, Robert Lehner, Bryan Noblett and Timothy Albright.

Davis might start by getting his ego in check. His arrogance was on full display at the recent town hall meetings, bragging about what he has done.

Simmons, Lehner, Noblett and Albright didn’t need to brag. Their collective courage, decisiveness, passion, support, intelligence, humility, empathy and honesty were always on display. No need for arrogance when you always exhibit those qualities to the public you swore "to serve and protect."

Note to Davis: Take note!

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