Antioch City Council meeting. The members are, seated from left, two black women, a black man, a white man and a white woman

Past Allegations Raise Doubts About New Antioch Police Chief

Antioch City Council meeting. The members are, seated from left, two black women, a black man, a white man and a white woman

Activists raised concerns at Tuesday’s Antioch City Council meeting over past corruption allegations against the new interim police chief. (Screenshot captured by Samantha Kennedy / CC Pulse)

By Samantha Kennedy

Some Antioch residents asked if corruption would continue in the Police Department after learning that newly appointed interim police chief William “Brian” Addington was previously accused of withholding police records from courts.

“We’re a little concerned because every time we think we’re making progress, we feel we get the wind knocked out of us,” said Reimagine Antioch member Frank Sterling Jr., who recently settled a lawsuit with the city in which he alleged that police used excessive force while unlawfully arresting him.

During his time as police chief for Pittsburg, Addington was allegedly informed by then-Internal Affairs Lt. Wade Derby in 2015 and 2016 that the misconduct files of two officers needed to be disclosed in court. The files were not disclosed and, after a lawsuit by Derby, 15 convictions involving the officers were dismissed. Addington said not releasing the files was unintentional.

Those two officers, Michael Sibbit and Elisabeth Ingram, had allegedly beaten suspects with flashlights and did not include these details in reports. They later alleged that falsifying details in their reports, such as the use-of-force, was the direction from supervisors to reduce crime statistics.

Derby’s lawsuit, however, was the first to make such allegations. He said the Police Department was intentionally falsifying crime reports by classifying crimes as “suspicious circumstances,” which would lower crime rates. In response to the allegations, the Contra Costa District Attorney’s Office and Contra Costa Sheriff’s Office found in an audit that more than 100 crimes were misclassified but did not say it was intentional.

“We can’t normalize corruption from our police,” said Patricia Granados, a Reimagine Antioch member. “We should hold them to a higher standard.”

Granados also referred to council member and retired police lieutenant Michael Barbanica’s alleged involvement in another case where two officers were accused of falsifying crime reports while he and Addington worked at the Pittsburg Police Department. Granados said Barbanica had lied under oath but later admitted to doing so.

Barbanica said Granados’ comments about him, which have been made before, were “disheartening” because she knows “it’s a lie.”

In 2003, Barbanica and Addington allegedly falsely accused two officers of an “improper pursuit.” Those two officers, Javier Salgado and Ron Huppert, later filed an appeal against the department, Barbanica, Addington and others for violating constitutional rights. The appeal was rejected in 2009.

Salgado admitted to falsifying reports as an officer by copying and pasting the same details between reports but said doing so was an “accepted practice” in the department.

Salgado and another officer not named an appellant, Jim Hartley, were sentenced to six months of house arrest for falsifying reports in 2004.

“We remove dirty cops from the street; isn’t that what we’re all asking for?” said Barbanica. “Then, we’re attacked for removing dirty cops from the street.”

Addington retired from the Pittsburg Police Department during the FBI’s investigation into the department and Antioch’s. In response to speculation that Addington left to avoid being held accountable for any alleged involvement, Barbanica reminded residents that the discovery of the racist text messages and college degree fraud was because of Addington.

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“Addington was given that information and immediately dealt with it and made sure it was investigated,” Barbanica said.

Council member Tamisha Torres-Walker acknowledged the community’s doubt about Addington but asked them to “give him a chance.”

“I’m just asking, even with all we know,” said Torres-Walker, “that is why we have oversight in this community, that is why we have all of you as watchdogs in the community.”

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