CLERB’s mission is to bring transparency to MPD (Memphis Police Department) operations. Transparency requires that CLERB minutes, case documents (possibly redacted), communications with MPD and other City entities, meeting video and other public documents should be posted on CLERB’s website and some of them also on the City website .
UPDATE: 6/13/2018. CLERB videos are now indexed under the CLERB tab on the City site, but minutes are still missing. A new page has appeared, as of this morning, containing four CLERB letters and MPD’s responses. These are the April versions of these letters. An earlier set of letters and responses is still not available. There is still a ton of documents still to be nade available.
CLERB has completely dropped the ball on this vital role. CLERB documents and minutes are completely absent from any official City website. The City website has most of the CLERB meeting video. All video made City Hall room 510 or the City Chamber were automatically recorded and placed in the City website, though a few of these are foxed. However, the CLERB video was not indexed under the CLERB tab, so they are only found via a search on the page. Meeting archives need to be provided to the City site support team to be included in the City page, and no-one at CLERB has done this.
CLERB’s own site, created after an elephantine gestation, is entirely devoid of documents. It is essentially a vanity site, worth about $300. Neely Agency was way overpaid for this work, and took a ridiculously long time to get it live. What should be happening now is that the CLERB admins should have been shown how to upload CLERB documents to a file server or the Cloud, and how to link the documents from the website. This is not happening.
What we did:
In order to demonstrate the process of putting CLERB documents online, we decided to do it ourselves, and the rest of this document is an archive of what should be on the CLERB and City websites.
We obtained, with the help of Who Will Watch the Watchers, the minutes up to July 2017, and we have an open records request for the others, which we will add in a future update. We found and linked the City video. We supplemented with some of the letters from MPD Director Rallings, additional video made by the public and the media, and some media coverage.
This is incomplete, but we intend to add material as we receive it, eventually getting it up to date. Waiting for the City to respond to ORRs for the missing material could take up to a year, so we decided not to make the perfect the enemy of the good. Please contact us if you have additional CLERB source documents you’d like to share.
And bear in mind that CLERB admin could and should have done this, and they have the material available on their hard drives and would not have had to hunt it down.
CLERB pointing the finger at City admin for not doing their transparency job is weak. I’ve just proven that they could have done this themselves. Transparency is the key!
CLERB home made document archive.
January 14, 2016:
There was no CLERB meeting but a minute was issued noting the hiring of Virginia Wilson, Administrator, who started 1/4/16 and Arthur Robinson, Investigator who was scheduled to start on 3/21/2016. Minutes(PDF). No video available
February 24, 2016:
There’s some confusion as to the date of this meeting, it could be the 9th, 11th or 24th, depending on which date you believe. CLERB Administrator, Virginia Wilson ran through a list of administrative issues including meetings with Mike Rallings and Mike Ryall of MPD, and Internal Affairs. No roll call was documented. Minutes(PDF). Video
Above: CLERB Administrator, Virginia Wilson, and Investigator Arthur Robinson
March 10, 2016:
CLERB failed to get a quorum. Minutes(PDF).
April 14, 2016:
Worth Morgan attended. Bruce Kramer discussed a document from Chicago which he considered relevant to police transparency. CLERB had training in police policies and procedures. Administrative matters including filling CLERB vacancies. Minutes(PDF). Video
- Testimony was heard on the Larry Brown case, which was tabled for further action.
May 12, 2016.
Worth Morgan was absent. New board member Dr. James Latta. Search for new CLERB members and other administrative issues were discussed. There was general discussion of getting clarity on subpoena power and Open Meetings issues. Minutes(PDF). Video. MidSouth Peace and Justice Center commented on the subpoena and open meetings issues.
- In the case of Larry Brown – the members of the board considered the additional information provided by the Juvenile court on the Brown case and after further deliberation the board voted unanimously with the decision made by the Inspectional Services Bureau – Claim of Excessive/Unnecessary Force: Not Sustained
June 14 2016.
Worth Morgan attended. CLERB failed to make quorum on June 9th and reconvened on the 14th with a quorum. Administrative issues including police training for CLERB members, distribution of copies of MPD’s P&P manual and a decision to take the case of Mr. Maurice Goins Minutes(PDF). Video.
July 14, 2016:
Worth Morgan was absent. New board members, Dwan Gilliom and Casey Bryant. Discussion by Attorney Bruce Kramer of Knoxville, TN Civilian Law Enforcement Review Board, which has Subpoena Power. Discussion of City Council issues. Update on new CLERB website. Minutes(PDF). Video
- Testimony was heard on the Maurice Goins case and the board decided to ask for release of medical records.
August 11, 2016:
Worth Morgan was absent. CLERB heard proposals for building the website from The Neely Agency and Trust Marketing and Communications. Neely Agency was awarded the contract on 4/27/2017. We do not know why it took the City eight months to process the contract.
City Attorney Mary Grambergs gave an overview of the changes to Ordinance NO. 5586. It was amended to say that CLERB can request subpoena but it must be approved by City Council. The City Council liaison would make the subpoena request on CLERB’s behalf. A motion was made that the TN state attorney general be asked to give a written opinion on the board’s access to subpoena power according to state law. The motion was seconded and approved. Executive meetings are now public meetings. This is in reference to the 8/9/2016 Council meeting, when Worth Morgan tried to remove CLERB’s subpoena power based on dubious legal advice from Allan Wade. An awkward compromise was agreed that channeled subpoenas through the full council after sustained opposition to Worth Morgan’s initiative to remove this CLERB power altogether. An account of this meeting is given above.
Memphis Daily News reports on the subpoena power issue as discussed at this meeting.
- Marcus Walker – Due to Mr. Walker’s lack of knowledge regarding his case file from IAB. Mr. Walker’s case was postponed until a later date.
- According to Michael Tabor’s initial testimony, on approximately February 15, 2003 at 12:00 a.m., he stated he was stopped outside of a nightclub at Winchester and Tchulahoma. Because he did not put on his turn signal before he turned and he was pulled over. He stated a white officer pulled him over and asked if he knew why he was being pulled over. According to Mr. Tabor the officer began to get aggressive with him. According to Mr. Tabor, the officer called for backup and two Black officers later appeared on the scene. Mr. Tabor stated that the officers instructed him to put his hands on the hood of his car. One of the Black officers began to give Mr. Tabor a pat-down; Mr. Tabor then raised his hands and the officer frisked Mr. Tabor. Mr. Tabor reports that the officer then began to frisk him in “odd places”, and when the officer was finished, Mr. Tabor put his hands down and the officer grabbed Mr. Tabor’s penis. The other officers did not address the issue and Mr. Tabor was given a citation and allowed to leave. Mr. Tabor filed a complaint with Internal Affairs approximately 10 days later. Per Mr. Tabor a detective from Internal Affairs called and said that the officer’s actions were inappropriate and that “the situation was handled.” Per Mr. Tabor, no letter was ever sent to Mr. Tabor that said that his claim was processed and not sustained.
September 8, 2016:
Worth Morgan was absent. Neely Agency was approved to build the website. Police training for CLERB was discussed. Board member Sandeep Pednekar’s motion to analyze the board’s power and set a standard procedure was carried. Minutes(PDF). Video
- Maurice Goins The board heard the testimony of Mr. Maurice Goins and witness Ms. Deana Christy. Board member Dr. James Latta clarified the medical records of Mr. Goins relevant to the case, for the other board members to take into consideration. CLERB refused to vote on the case, which was dropped without recommendation.
- Michael Tabor was not present at this meeting. The board voted not to sustain his complaint.
- William Louden The board heard the testimony of Mr. William Louden, and voted not to sustain his complaint.
- Paul Garner’s case was tabled. Garner is the Memphis United official whose arrest while photographing the police brought to light the inactive status of CLERB prior to 2016 and who played a large role in the campaign to reactivate CLERB.
October 13, 2016:
- Paul Garner gave testimony and distributed information on his case. John Marek brought up the 4th and 5th
- Robert Howard gave testimony and his case was continued until the next meeting.
November 17, 2016:
Worth Morgan was absent. The meeting had been postponed from November 10th because board members and staff were getting training from Citizens Police Training Academy. The December meeting was canceled.
Complainant Paul Garner advised that Former Police Director Toney Armstrong stated there was a policy in place on filming at the time of Mr. Garner’s arrest. Arthur Robinson, CLERB investigator, stated that he checked with Internal Affairs and there is no such policy in place. The current MPD policy on photographing police is in Chapter II Section 14 of MPD’s P&P manual and was approved (PDF) by Toney Armstrong on December 17th 2013. This was several weeks after Garner’s arrest. The policy states that the general public have a First Amendment right to video record, photograph and/or audio record police while conducting official business.
John Marek pointed out the CLERB cannot change MPD P&P but can make recommendations. Minutes(PDF). Video is currently missing.
- Paul Garner’s testimony was heard and video seen. CLERB voted to sustain the case.
- Robert Howard’s case, originating in October, was heard and not sustained.
- Mr Reginald Johnson’s case was heard and sustained. He brought video from a camera on his porch showing police entering his house without a warrant. An injured man, who had been shot, comes to Mr Johnson’s door. Mr Johnson dialed 911. Police arrive in force, ignore the injured man on the porch and four officers enter Mr Johnson’s house, where they threw him to the floor, beat him up and maced him. Mr Johnson’s case was dismissed when the arresting officer failed to turn up in court for the preliminary hearing, in contravention of MPD rule DR 501. CLERB voted to sustain Mr. Johnson’s case and recommend sanctioning of the officers. Police records related to the case were altered. The MPD officers ignored the shooting victim until after Mr Johnson was beaten, maced and arrested, at which time a fire engine arrived and paramedics treated the shooting victim.
December 8, 2016
No CLERB meeting (PDF).
January 12, 2017:
February 9, 2017:
- Claudette Taylor and witness Tracy Boylin(?) were heard and CLERB viewed photographic evidence of the scene of the altercation. The board voted to table the complaint until the next meeting waiting for video evidence.
- Helen Futrell testified and her complaint was not sustained.
March 9, 2017:
- Reginald Johnson CLERB had already sustained Mr. Johnson’s complaint in a previous meeting. (we can find no 2016 or 2017 minutes of this case). They discussed recommendations to send to Police Director Rallings regarding his case. The board recommended that the officer(s) involved be formally reprimanded and include a record of this case in their file in regards to their behavior during the incident; hold sensitivity training and procedural training for those involved with special attention to entering residences without a warrant and no extenuating circumstances or probable cause.
- Claudette Taylor The board had tabled Ms. Taylor’s case at the February meeting. Ms. Renee Diggs gave testimony. The excessive force complaint was upheld. The board recommended that Dir. Rallings formally reprimand the officer(s) through disciplinary action. The Board also recommends that the officers be required to attend sensitivity training as well as further training on the Policies and Procedures of the Memphis Police Department especially in regards to Necessary Force. The board further recommends that the officers issue a letter of apology to the complainant, Ms. Taylor.
- James Bolden The board heard Mr. Bolden’s testimony and voted unanimously to sustain his complaint. They recommended that Dir. Rallings require the officers involved to attend sensitivity training as well as further training on the Policies and Procedures of the Memphis Police Department.
Video of testimony from James Bolden’s and Claudette Taylor’s cases from Who Will Watch the Watchers.
April 13, 2017:
Worth Morgan was absent. The letters sent to Mike Rallings in relation to the Johnson, Taylor, Garner and Bolden cases from the previous meeting were discussed. Rallings criticized the letters and suggested police training for CLERB members. He rejected all the recommendation. John Marek pointed out that CLERB had rejected six out of the ten complaints. Travel expenses and upcoming elections for CLERB positions were discussed. Garrity warnings were addressed by Ms. Bryant. Minutes(PDF). Video. Who Will Watch the Watchers summarizes the meeting.
On 6/13/2018, less than two days after we posted this article, CLERB added this new documents page to their site. The letters referred to in this section were posted (PDFs):
- Reginald Johnson letters: From CLERB. Reply from Mike Rallings.
- Paul Garner letters: From CLERB. Reply from Mike Rallings.
- Claudette Taylor letters: From CLERB. Reply from Mike Rallings.
- James Bolden letters: From CLERB. Reply from Mike Rallings.
We’d say, a day late and a dollar short, but it is a year late and $200,000 short.
- Marcus Walker. Additional testimony and evidence was heard and the case tabled. Video from Who Will Watch the Watchers with Marcus Walker’s testimony, in which he talks about officers beating and macing him and is son, after following him. He was arrested.
May 11, 2017:
Worth Morgan was absent. This minute(PDF) is almost an exact copy of the April 13 minutes(PDF) and we feel an error has occurred. We have asked for clarification of these minutes and will get back. Video.
Director Rallings had responded to the four letters sent by CLERB. Here are Rallings responses, four letters and a cover note. Rallings rejected three of the four (Taylor, Johnson, Bolden) and asked for additional video in the Garner case. Additional video.
June 8, 2017:
Worth Morgan was absent. Three CLERB attorneys agreed to redraft the three letters to which Mike Rallings had taken exception. It was remarked that this was the tenth meeting in a row where Worth Morgan had not attended. The Neely Agency made a website presentation.
- Marcus Walker. The case was discussed and some confusion exists as to the chain of events. Discussion deferred.
- Donna LaFleur Testimony from Ms LaFleur and Ms. Allison Toma was heard, much discussion ensued and the case deferred pending additional information.
July 13, 2017:
Worth Morgan was absent. Alan Crone, Special Council to Mayor Strickland spoke and said that CLERB had to be seen “…as neutral and not organ of the administration or an organ of anti-police..”. He cited Atlanta CLERB practice of not hearing cases where police had already been disciplined, without noting that Memphis CLERB only takes cases after rejection by IAD. Crone had been a member of the 2015 City Council when the CLERB reactivation measure was eventually approved.
There were several visitors from the Department of Justice; Keenon James, supervisory Specialist/Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, Diane Ragans, Site-Specific Project Manager and Michael Dirton with the Department of Justice. They were conducting an investigation into MPD practices. Rallings responses to the Bolden, Taylor, Garner and Johnson letters were discussed. CLERB members are disappointed. A website presentation was requested of The Neely Agency.
The three complainants who were scheduled failed to attend, so there was time in the schedule. The unusual step of hearing from members of the public was taken, with Paul Garner speaking. Minutes(PDF): Video (only the audio track plays).
- Mr Reginald Johnson: His case had been “… heard and sustained by the board. Mr. Johnson asked the board for help, stating several officers show up at his home and he (Johnson) feel uncomfortable. Mr. Johnson also stated that he spoke with Director Rallings about the matter. Board member Dwan Gilliom informed Mr. Johnson that he sympathized with the situation, but he (Gilliom) stated he was sure what the board could accomplished with the Director since Mr. Johnson has already spoke with the Director two times…”. This discussion occurred during the public comment session.
We are not in possession of CLERB minutes past July 2017, but we have an Open Records request for them and will add them when and if they become available.
August 10th 2017:
Worth Morgan not present. No minutes available. Video. Who Will Watch the Watchers describes the meeting. Director Rallings had again rejected the more detailed letters sent on the four cases, after CLERB had sent more detailed letters. “We want to meet with the police director and the mayor and tell the mayor, he’s not listening,” White said. “We’re spinning our wheels…”. Board members are frustrated.
- Ms Elvira Morales, who used a Spanish-English interpreter to say she and her son were traumatized by an officer who grabbed her out of her car and “threw” Morales and her son in the back of a police car. The incident sprang from a minor car accident and was acerbated because Morales did not understand the officer’s English, she said, especially when he began yelling at her. CLERB ruled that the officer did not violate MPD policy, although they believed that Ms Morales account was accurate. The board voted to recommend to Rallings that the officer receive sensitivity training. CLERB also discussed ways of better managing incidents where there are language barriers.
September 14th 2017:
Worth Morgan not present. His absence was discussed at length. No minutes available. Video.
October 9th 2017:
Worth Morgan not present. No minutes available. Video.
November 9th 2017:
Worth Morgan not present. No minutes available. Video. Marie Finney was appointed to CLERB on November 7th.
January 14th 2017
Philip Spinosa was present (his first CLERB meeting). No official video available.
- Mr William Perkins He had been walking past an unrelated police incident when he was roughed up and arrested by police. The case was tabled until March pending receipt of body cam footage from MPD.
February 8th 2018:
Philip Spinosa was present. Video is corrupted.
March 8th 2018: Phillip Spinosa was not present. Video is corrupted. This meeting was held in the Benjamin Hooks Library and video was recorded by CLERB investigator Arthur Robinson. Unredacted police bodycam footage was shown. The public was cleared from the room during the viewing.
- Mr William Perkins His case had been continued from January. Police bodycam footage was viewed.
April 12th 2018:
CLERB fails to make a quorum.
May 10th 2018:
This meeting was covered by Who Will Watch the Watchers. The Commercial Appeal also reported. This is the letter CLERB sent to Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland. The subject line was: “Issues hindering CLERB”. “letters from the Memphis Police Director and letters to the Director of Police are not being posted on the website as the ordinance requires. Second, Director Rallings is all but ignoring the board’s recommendations. The letter did not mention that CLERB minutes and meeting videos are also not being posted. The minutes we linked were obtained by Open Records Request, and the videos we posted had automatically been transferred by the City Hall video system, without being posted to the CLERB site or to the CLERB meetings tab on the City video site. We found them by searching using the search box in the middle of the page.
“Director Rallings has chosen to continue the debate by attempting to render the board ineffective by rejecting all of our recommendations. Some of these cases involved unquestionable video footage, and it is beyond absurd that none of our recommendations have been accepted.”
“The members of CLERB volunteer our time, and, currently, it is being wasted. CLERB needs one of four things to take place before our board can be effective: 1) Director Rallings to be reasonable and at least meet us in the middle on our decisions (compromise), 2) A new police director who will work with us, 3) A new ordinance that gives CLERB binding decision-making power, or 4) an amendment to the current ordinance, which gives appellate power to the mayor over the police director’s decisions.”
“There’s no respect for the board.”
The board is calling for sit-down meetings with the mayor and council members to address the board’s issues with Rallings, as well as a separate, technical issue the board has with meeting the requirements of a city ordinance to upload the correspondence between Rallings and the board to CLERB’s website.
The CLERB members felt that Rallings and possibly others were sabotaging CLERB.
We add that Worth Morgan had attended only two of the 19 CLERB meetings during his tenure. Morgan had introduced the measure to remove CLERB’s legacy power of subpoena, which the previous incarnation of CLERB had had. Allan Wade had opined that City law did not allow Council to delegate its powers. The State also did not allow cities to delegate their subpoena powers.
As Bruce Kramer pointed out at the July 14, 2016 meeting, Knoxville CLERB had direct subpoena powers. It is also true that the City charter does not specifically allow delegation of subpoena powers, but it also does not prohibit delegation. Worth Morgan was trying to truncate CLERB powers and succeeded to some extent. After that compromise in August of 2016, Morgan stopped attending meetings. As Worth Morgan was the official link between CLERB and the Council, his absence made it even more difficult for CLERB to exercise its very roundabout subpoena powers. His prolonged absence from CLERB meetings is arguably a further attempt to sabotage CLERB.
CLERB is saying that they feel like they were set up to fail, and to produce only the appearance and not the substance of transparency.
CLERB is a ‘dog and pony show’.
June 14th 2018.
Updated 6/17/2017. Our video footage.
MPD Director Mike Rallings spoke and did his usual stonewalling. He also reported on the ongoing DOJ exercise at MPD, which has gone through some changes since the initial COPS program. There was talk of training for CLERB and he said that the training recommended for officers in the CLERB letters was already being done. Paul Garner spoke to the officers and pointed out inaccuracies in the MPD response to the letter on his case.
The City Council rep on CLERB, to replace Philip Spinosa, has not been announced.
CLERB is thinking of going to one meeting every two months.
Reginald Johnson mentioned his meeting with the MPD Director, which was not recorded. Ralph White would not let him read his notes on that meeting into the CLERB record. Dir Rallings promised to lift the premises advisory / hazard location on Mr Johnson’s house during that May meeting at MPD headquarters.
CLERB is planning to apply to Council for a subpoena in the Marcus Walker case.
Procedures for travel expenses for conferences were discussed.
Ralph White has a meeting planned for Monday 6/18/2018 with Mayor Strickland to discuss the letter CLERB sent to him last month.
- Jonathan Jones was heard, and bodycam footage was shown. On May 2nd, 2017, Mr Jones and two friends were asked to either remove their hoodies or leave a store in Oak Court Mall and subsequently asked to leave the mall by a security guard. They left. Mr Jones is an armed security guard and donned his bulletproof jacket. He also had two legal firearms in his car. After he left the mall, he was pulled over by an MPD officer. An off-duty MPD officer joined the scene. They pulled Mr Jones from his car forcefully then climbed on him when he was on the ground, roughly placing handcuffs while constricting his airway. Mr Jones wore a gunbelt with an empty holster during his testimony.
CLERB members lectured Mr Jones. He had not been arrested during the incident, and the gist of the lecturing was that either shopping while black or legal weapon possession while black could easily have led to a police killing.
CLERB voted not to sustain the complaint.
— Concluded —
Check back for updates.