(The hourly rate is $85 more than what the city is paying a private company to assist it in kicking homeless people out from where they’re sleeping.)
In an August 4 email, Mayor Ed Murray and City Council Member Tim Burgess asked Ethics and Elections Commission director Wayne Barnett to track down the whistleblower, alleging a violation of city’s ethics code. Barnett thanked them, then promised a “thorough investigation” and to take “appropriate measures if we are able to identify the source.”
Barnett has designated about 10 percent of his commission’s total annual budget for the investigation.
The document we published, way back in June, was a summary of the city’s offer to the Seattle Police Officers Guild (SPOG). The vast majority of Seattle police officers rejected the contract—which fell short in key ways of benchmarks set this month by the federal judge overseeing Department of Justice-mandated reforms.
The current contract imposes onerous limits on the ways the city can hold its rank and file cops accountable for misconduct; the new contract would have relaxed some of those limits, without wholly doing away with them. Samuel Sinyangwe, the New York-based co-founder of the Black Lives Matter group Campaign Zero, which analyzes police contracts, said the contract still contains “many provisions that undermine accountability and are simply not present in many cities’ contracts.”
Sinyangwe called contract offer “mediocre at best,” from an accountability perspective.
It’s not clear how Eakes will go about the investigation. City Attorney Pete Holmes suggested in a July statement that he and employees would submit to questioning in the inquiry under threat of perjury. Nor is there any proposed end date for the investigation. Eakes did not respond to a request for comment.
As we’ve reported before, there is “near-consensus” among the the Department of Justice, Office of Professional Accountability (OPA), OPA Review Board, OPA Auditor, and the Community Police Commission that labor negotiations with the police guild should not be kept secret to begin with.
Author: Elyssa Cherney – August 26, 2016
Tia Bonta’s family clung to the hope she would show up at her son Kingston’s first birthday party — even though they hadn’t seen or heard from the 24-year-old in three weeks.
So on Tuesday, a small group of somber relatives gathered to have ice cream cake. The event came and passed, though, with no sign of Bonta.
“She’s a great mom, so it’s devastating she wasn’t here,” said her father, Kevin. “The day before [I thought], if she doesn’t make it to this one, I just got a weird feeling.”
Since Bonta vanished July 31, the Orange County Sheriff’s Office has scoured two wooded areas looking for clues of her whereabouts. A person of interest, who initially talked to police and was the last person to report seeing Bonta, is also nowhere to be found. As the days of uncertainty turned into weeks, the family retained a private investigation firm to follow new leads.
At the time of her disappearance, Bonta was working toward a degree at Keiser University in Orlando, according to family and her Facebook page. She finally felt as if she had direction, her father said. While she hadn’t settled on a career, she had been interested in criminal justice since high school, when she went on a ride-along with an officer, Kevin Bonta said.
James Copenhaver, a former sheriff’s deputy whose PI firm was hired by the Bontas, said the skipped birthday party concerned him too.
“I’ve had many families hire us for missing young adults, and in some way, they always make contact with their child,” Copenhaver said Friday. “I have my concerns due to the fact that it’s been so many days or weeks that she hasn’t reached out … so I do suspect foul play, without a question.”
History of drug use
Several arrests starting in 2014 describe Bonta’s history of drug use, according to Orange County court records. As a result, Copenhaver said he can’t rule out whether Bonta’s struggles may have played a role in her disappearance.
In December 2014, Bonta was arrested with her brother in connection with an attempted burglary. She told deputies a man paid her $20 for a ride, and she didn’t know the same man was trying to break into cars since “she began to tie her arm” and “shoot up cocaine,” an arrest report states.
In Bonta’s most recent arrest — June 3 on charges of heroin and cocaine possession in east Orange County — deputies found a bag of heroin in a car she was driving, according to an arrest affidavit. She also pulled a small bag of cocaine out of her bra and handed it to the deputy after the traffic stop, the report said.
Bonta pleaded no contest to the charges but violated conditions of her release after rear ending another car and leaving the scene, according to a charging affidavit. As a result, Bonta returned to jail June 30 until her release on July 25.
Copenhaver said he is trying to construct a time line for the six days following her release, the final days before she went missing. Much of it remains unclear, and he said he is looking into whether she started using drugs again.
“She had three weeks to clean up in jail, and she was looking very clean, very healthy, but did she fall back into that trap? That’s unknown,” he said.
‘Person of interest’ disappears
More answers could depend on finding the person of interest, identified by investigators as convicted felon James Dellafield.
Dellafield, 44, talked to investigators Aug. 5 after Kevin Bonta gave them his number, according to a missing person report. Kevin Bonta said he saw Tia getting into a car with the man, who goes by “JD,” at a Days Inn on East Colonial Drive in the Alafaya area, the report said.
A deputy called Dellafield on the phone, and he confirmed that he picked up Bonta and then dropped her off at a house near Buck Road and Cleburne Road. Dellafield said he didn’t know the address but Kevin Bonta did, as he had picked his daughter up there a couple of times.
Copenhaver said he believes Tia was staying at the Days Inn, and he is working to acquire surveillance footage from the hotel chain. Copenhaver also said another investigation led him to the same house on Cleburne Road, where he saw a lot of foot traffic.
Dellafield, of Sanford, served two prison stints since 2002. He was released in 2006 after a six-year sentence for aggravated assault of a law enforcement officer and aggravated fleeing and alluding. He served another two-year term from 2011 to 2013 for a slew of convictions, including cocaine possession and distribution and grand theft of a motor vehicle.
Sgt. Steven Strickland, a lead detective on the case, declined an interview Friday, citing the open investigation. A spokeswoman wouldn’t elaborate about why investigators searched the woods — one in the Alafaya area and the other just north of Union Park.
In the meantime, Kevin Bonta is caring for 1-year-old Kingston. Tia also lived with him before she went missing.
“Our prayers are that she is alive and well,” Kevin Bonta said. “We ask that no matter what, we get closure, and we get it quickly.”
Anyone with information about the case can anonymously call Crimeline at 1-800-423-8477.