The June 24 article “Did Mo’s Life Matter?” published on A News Café, is a reminder that all communities need to review their police policy manuals on the use of force and how these incidents are investigated and reported. This assures the use of force respects the values of each community.
The events on June 9, 2020 at the American Modern Motel in downtown Redding preceding the death of Morgan “Mo” James Davis are outlined in the article, and more importantly, are captured in a video taken by a woman at the motel. Watch the video and form your own conclusions.
The baton strike to the back of Mo’s head violates Policy 302.5 which states the following: “The head, neck, throat, spine, heart, kidneys and groin should not be intentionally targeted except when the officer reasonably believes the suspect poses an imminent threat of serious bodily injury or death to the officer or others.”
The Redding Police Department investigates incidents that result in injury or death of the person being detained. The facts are collected by an independent police agency and presented to our District Attorney’s office to determine if a crime has been committed by the officer. The investigation is designed to be fair and impartial. The findings may have a serious effect on the officer’s career and the safety of our community.
A separate RPD officer-involved shooting occurred in our community on August 27, 2018. A man was brandishing a knife and walking in traffic. RPD responded, chased him, and finally surrounded him. When he failed to surrender or follow commands and stepped toward an officer, he was shot and died. The incident was investigated and ruled as an appropriate use of force.
The reporting of the August investigation set an excellent precedent. RPD posted a 20-minute video on their Facebook page explaining the facts and their conclusions. Sgt. Chris Smyrnos presented the edited video that included the chase, capture, shooting and the justification for the use of force.
The events leading to Morgan Davis’ death deserve a similar report. This type of reporting is healthy for our community, our police chief and our police officers, and should be required in these situations. The report about Morgan David will be difficult to write and present. I believe the officer’s baton strike was excessive and inappropriate. However, I am more interested to see how our police chief and our district attorney viewed the events. Do we share the same values?
Week after week we continue to see video after video of excessive force used by police officers. With the outcry and video examples, why is this still occurring?
Maybe this type of report and more awareness in our community will help stop these events from happening. Accountability creates change.
And finally, in addition to neck chokes and carotid control measures, we need to add to the manual that the back of the head cannot be targeted for baton strikes.
Dr. Mark Pierce has lived in Redding, Ca since 1982.
After completing his internal medicine residency at UC Irvine, he relocated to Redding and established his internal medicine practice, Hilltop Medical Clinic, and a diabetes education center with his partner and wife, Dr. Nancy Sutton Pierce.
They have raised three kids and now enjoy what they call “the dessert of parenting” – their five grandchildren.
Dr. Pierce is a long-standing practitioner of yoga and Kenpo karate, through which he’s learned nonjudgment and self-control.
You are most likely to have met Dr. Pierce at Hilltop Medical Clinic or Scott Halsey’s Kenpo Karate studio.