Police investigation finds East Palo Alto detective's Facebook posts were 'inappropriate'
By Jason Green, Bonnie Eslinger and Diana Samuels
Daily News Staff Writers
Posted: 07/21/2010 03:00:00 AM PDT
An East Palo Alto police detective who suggested in a Facebook post that people who openly carry unloaded firearms should be shot engaged in "inappropriate behavior," the police department announced Tuesday.
The announcement was welcomed by Responsible Citizens of California, which supports the legal "open carry" practice. The group gathered at East Palo Alto City Hall on Tuesday night for a rally intended to pressure police officials to speed up their investigation into Detective Rod Tuason's comments on the social networking site.
"What a coincidence," Yih-Chau Chang, a spokesman for Responsible Citizens of California, remarked dryly at the rally after the investigation's results were released. "It's a victory for us."
Detective Tuason made his controversial Facebook comments in February while responding to a friend's remark about open carry advocates. In one post, he joked that the advocates would get robbed if they tried to carry a gun in plain sight in East Palo Alto.
Then he suggested that officers who spot a person carrying a gun openly "should've pulled the AR (assault rifle) out and prone them all out! And if one of them makes a furtive movement ... 2 weeks off!!!"
The police department said in a statement Tuesday that an internal investigation was launched after it received numerous phone calls and e-mails about the Facebook comments.
"After reviewing all of the available evidence, the allegations against an officer of the East Palo Alto Police Department have been 'SUSTAINED,'" the statement said. "A Sustained finding means the investigation revealed sufficient evidence to clearly prove that one or more allegations in the complaint did in fact occur and were in violation of Department policy."
It will be up to police Chief Ronald Davis to determine what disciplinary and corrective actions to take, according to the statement, which went on to say the department is prohibited by state law from discussing disciplinary matters or releasing additional information about the probe.
The statement did not directly identify Tuason as the police employee under investigation.
Chang of Responsible Citizens of California said he hopes Tuason's punishment is stiff.
"We believe his remarks constitute a serious breach of public trust," Chang said. "He should be relieved of his police duties, and if he is not relieved of his duties, he should not be in the capacity to deal with the public directly."
"It's our hope that it's not just a slap on the wrist," added Adnan Shahab, executive vice president of Responsible Citizens of California.
Shahab and other members of the group left their holsters empty Tuesday because they were at a government center. But the next time he steps foot in East Palo Alto, he'll be packing heat.
"Next time I come to East Palo Alto," Shahab vowed, "I will have my openly carried firearm with me."