Police Shootings Prompt Investigation in Anaheim

Anaheim will commission an independent investigation of major police incidents, including police shootings, City Manager Bob Wingenroth announced this week, a reaction to resident accusations of wrongful shooting deaths by police officers.

“In order to maintain the trust and confidence that our residents have in our police department I am working with our city attorney in recommending that the city of Anaheim conduct an independent review of major police incidents, including incidents of officer involved shootings,” Wingenroth declared in a prepared statement.

City residents have been holding weekly protests, claiming that rogue police officers are wantonly shooting young men with impunity.

“These officers are still on duty and are still killing without remorse,” Joseph Cardenas said at the June 5 City Council meeting. Cardenas alleges that his brother, Caesar Cruz, was shot and killed without justification in a Wal-Mart parking lot in 2009.

Many of the speakers at that council meeting said that the city’s review process has fallen short of rooting out the truth about the police shootings in question. These charges led Mayor Tom Tait to call for an independent review.

“I asked the city manager to look into the procedures and make sure these things are reviewed by an independent body. And I will wait for his conclusions,” Tait said.

The city will hire an outside contractor to conduct the investigation. The contract will come before the City Council only if the compensation rises above $100,000, which is the city manager’s contract signing authority.

Police Department officials could not be immediately reached for comment. Police Chief John Welter told the Orange County Register that he wouldn’t resist the investigation.

“I welcome any independent review of major police incidents by a qualified individual or group,” Welter said. “The Anaheim Police Department works hard to be as transparent as possible.”