See 10/13/23 UPDATE with her responses to questions about her comments. Now claims “entire department…under review.”
Joined by another Contra Costa organization leader at Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, Switzerland
“Tamisha Torres-Walker…has now misrepresented what is truly happening at the Antioch Police Department to the world…” – Mike Rains, APOA attorney
Fellow councilman also disputes her claims
By Allen D. Payton
In probably a first for an Antioch City Council member, according to an announcement by the Richmond, CA-based Safe Return Project, “on October 5, 2023, (Antioch Mayor Pro Tem) Tamisha Torres-Walker, (the organization’s) Executive Director and Co-Founder of, alongside James Heard, Director of Lift Up Contra Costa, sat in the grand auditorium in Geneva, Switzerland, at the United Nations to shed light on the decades of alleged racism and corruption of local law enforcement of nearly half the Antioch, CA police force and the impact on Black lives and civil rights at the 38th Meeting – 54th Session of Human Rights Council.”
The announcement also shared, “The United Nations Human Rights Council welcomed 45 speakers from around the globe who gave an enhanced interactive dialogue with the High Commissioner and the International Independent Expert Mechanism to Advance Racial Justice and Equality in Law Enforcement. The EDFU Foundation invited Tamisha for the prestigious honor of providing a statement before the Human Rights Council based on two reports, the EMLER and OHCHR.
The Human Rights Council will report back to the United Nations to make recommendations using the presented EMLER. OHCHR Report calls upon America to “do something” about the fundamental protection of human rights of Black people and their civil rights when it comes to cruel and unethical acts committed by the institution of American policing as well as ending the war on drugs, that has led to the incarceration and disenfranchisement of missions of Black Americans.
Torres-Walker’s statement to the Human Rights Council, United Nations, Geneva, Switzerland:
Civilian oversight of law enforcement is a crucial and necessary mechanism that plays a vital role in ensuring transparency, accountability, and the protection of civil rights.
Antioch, CA, is the second most diverse city in the US Bay Area, with a population of over 115,000, with 20.2% of its population identifying as African American. It has a police department with more than 80% of its department sworn and non-sworn personnel under federal and state review for civil rights, use of force, and other violations of public trust.
Oversight serves as a check and balance and has the ability to promote sustainable solutions to public safety that are not simply alternatives to policing but have a higher success rate of preventing crime and harm while keeping communities safe.
Community-based solutions to public safety and protecting the rights of black Americans should be a priority, not over-policing and hypersurveillance. The city of Los Angeles’s police department’s budget, for example, is $3.2 billion annually and climbing; this is a budget the size of most developing countries’ military budgets. These sustainable solutions, like civilian peacemaker operations across America and elsewhere need to be funded at the same scale.
Again, thank you for this report, and thank Edfu Foundation for this opportunity.’”
False Information Corrected
However, part of what Torres-Walker shared is incorrect about the Antioch Police Department officers. As previously and extensively reported, the FBI and Contra Costa District Attorney’s Office have been investigating alleged “crimes of moral turpitude” involving a handful of Antioch officers. The larger number of officers caught up in the racist text scandal are undergoing an internal City investigation using an outside contracted investigator. (See related article)
Furthermore, of the 105 sworn officers currently on the Antioch Police force, 80% would mean 84 are under investigation which is not correct.
Questions for Torres-Walker Go Unanswered
Questions were sent to Torres-Walker asking her to back up her claims. She was asked, “where did you get your statistics and facts that you mentioned in your speech at the U.N. meeting last week? What state review of the sworn and non-sworn personnel for civil rights, use of force and other violations of public trust is currently underway? Which agency is conducting it? Other than the FBI investigation, along with the CCDA’s office of the handful of officers for alleged ‘crimes of moral turpitude’ what federal review are 80% of the department’s sworn and non-sworn personnel undergoing? Which agency is conducting it? Why didn’t you say anything positive about our city? Do you think spreading negative and false information will benefit the Antioch Police Department and city? What good were or are you hoping to result from your speech? Are you wanting the United Nations to get involved in the current investigations of Antioch police officers? Did the City of Antioch pay for your trip?”
Questions for Chief, APOA VP & Attorney
Questions were also sent to Acting Antioch Police Chief Joe Vigil, APOA Vice President Lauren Bledsoe and APOA attorney Mike Rains asking for the details on the number of officers on the force and how many are under investigation.
APOA Attorney Says No State Involvement, Provides Correct Statistics
Michael Rains, of the Rains Luca Stern St. Phalle & Silver law firm, which represents the APOA responded with the following:
“Tamisha Torres-Walker is apparently not content simply misrepresenting the facts to the local media in Contra Costa County, or to the constituents in the City of Antioch. She has now misrepresented what is truly happening at the Antioch Police Department to the world at a conference in Geneva, Switzerland, which will no doubt give the City of Antioch a bad reputation internationally if someone cares to check the accuracy of her statement that ‘. . . 80% of (the Police Department’s ) sworn and non-sworn personnel are under federal and state review for civil rights, use of force, and other violations of public trust.’
First, she neglected to mention that the former Police Chief, Steven Ford, initiated a request on behalf of his Police Department for an ‘audit’ of the Department by the State of California Department of Justice. State DOJ stated that it was willing to conduct an audit but has not initiated any type of audit or review as of this date.
Civil rights attorney John Burris has ‘demanded’ that the federal government initiate an investigation of the department, but apparently, the federal government does not respond to Mr. Burris’ demands, and has thus not initiated an investigation or notified the department it intends to do so as of this date.
There is currently an administrative investigation underway relating to approximately 17 officers who have been placed on administrative leave by city officials (not at the direction of, or the concurrence by former Chief Steven Ford), for engaging in inappropriate text messaging on their personal cell phones. That pending administrative investigation has nothing to do with either civil rights violations or use of improper force.
The placement of those officers on administrative leave represents approximately 20% of the sworn workforce, not 80%, as stated by Torres-Walker, and of the 17 who have been languishing on paid administrative leave for over half this year, the incompetent City leaders (outside of the police department) who are supposedly ‘managing’ the administrative investigation by hiring ‘outside’ lawyers to interview the officers have only had about half of the officers interviewed thus far, and have no interviews at all scheduled for the other half.
Of the seven or eight officers who were interviewed, other than two who declined to answer questions and face discipline for that reason, there are no adverse findings in possession of the City against those officers.
Alternatively, the City leaders who are supposedly ‘managing’ the investigation, for whatever reason, including the fact that the findings by the outside lawyers do not play into the ‘racist culture’ narrative they have perpetuated, have not shared those findings with the officers or their attorneys.
It sounds like just another day of misrepresenting the truth to the public, but here the distortions were delivered to a much larger audience.”
Barbanica Disputes Torres-Walker
District 2 Councilman Mike Barbanica was also reached for comment and said in response, “I’m unaware of 80% of our department being investigated. I’m very proud of the city that I was raised in and still live in. Having the opportunity to speak on a world stage I would have personally used that opportunity to highlight the positives the city has to offer, while addressing those issues honestly and factually.”
“The investigation is going to weed out anyone who should not be part of our department. The system is designed to identify the bad cops and eliminate them and keep the good cops and make sure those who should be working are,” he continued. “It’s unfortunate, this issue is being dragged back into the news when the situation is being dealt with by the FBI, the DA’s office, the courts and internally through an independent investigator. But I want it to be reported factually. 80% of our officers being investigated is news to me.”
“What she could have said is there is a small number of officers that are being investigated by the FBI and DA’s office. The others are undergoing an internal investigation,” Barbanica added.
The announcement by Torres-Walker’s organization also shared, “The Human Rights Council will report back to the United Nations to make recommendations using the presented EMLER. OHCHR Report calls upon America to ‘do something’ about the fundamental protection of human rights of Black people and their civil rights when it comes to cruel and unethical acts committed by the institution of American policing as well as ending the war on drugs, that has led to the incarceration and disenfranchisement of missions of Black Americans.”
The others did not respond prior to publication time.
Watch the Full Session Enhanced ID: Excerpt Mechanism on Law Enforcement – 38th Meeting, 54th Regular Session of the Human Rights Council. See related documents: EMLER Report to OHCHR 2023 and OHCHR Report on EMLER 2023.
10/13/23 UPDATE: Torres-Walker Responds Doesn’t Back Up Her Claims
On Friday, Oct. 13, Torres-Walker responded to the emailed questions with general information and without providing details to back up her claims:
Q. Where did you get your statistics and facts that you mentioned in your speech at the U.N. meeting last week?
A. “The entire department has been under review that’s a fact. Not everyone has been indicted which is why my comments didn’t mention charges or terminations.”
Q. What state review of the sworn and non-sworn personnel for civil rights, use of force and other violations of public trust is currently underway? Which agency is conducting it?
A. “You as well as the public knows that there are officers and none sworn personnel facing federal and state charges not misinformation facts. There is also an internal investigation being led by the city attorney’s office again facts.”
Q. Other than the FBI investigation, along with the CCDA’s office of the handful of officers for alleged “crimes of moral turpitude” what federal review are 80% of the department’s sworn and non-sworn personnel undergoing? Which agency is conducting it? Why didn’t you say anything positive about our city?
A. “I was there to address the topic of law enforcement and its harmful impact on black people and people of color based on two UN Reports. Did you read the Reports? The issues facing the police department is public and has been devastating to the community what’s positive about that?”
Q. Do you think spreading negative and false information will benefit the Antioch Police Department and city? What good were or are you hoping to result from your speech? Are you wanting the United Nations to get involved in the current investigations of Antioch police officers?
A. “I also mentioned the budget of the Los Angeles police department the point was to get them to recommend investments in community based violence prevention and intervention programs as stated in my comments.”
Q. Finally, did the City of Antioch pay for your trip?
A. “Although I am a council member in Antioch and a resident of Antioch I attended the session as the director of Safe Return Project and a member of the lift up Contra Costa coalition. I included James if you have any questions for him on your fact finding mission.”
Torres-Walker was then asked, “which federal and state agencies are conducting a ‘review’ of the ‘entire department’?” She was also asked, “Where did you get your statistic of 80% of the department? What other personnel besides the sworn officers and the one CSO are under review or investigation?”
She responded simply, “You should be able to get that information from the city attorney.”
The questions and her responses were then sent on Saturday, October 14, to City Attorney Smith, Acting Police Chief Vigil and APD spokesmen asking for them to answer the questions posed to the councilwoman.
Please check back later for their responses and any other updates to this report.