Mayor Thorpe to hold news conference Thursday morning; two other council members unaware of matter
By Allen D. Payton
According to an East Bay Times report, eight more Antioch Police officers have been placed on leave and are under investigation for sending each other racist and homophobic texts in violation of department policies. Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe has called a press conference for Thursday morning at 11 a.m. to speak on the matter.
The officers on leave are in addition to eight other officers also on leave while under investigation by the FBI and Contra Costa DA’s office. (See related article)
Questions were emailed to Thorpe, Acting City Manager Forrest Ebbs, City Attorney Thomas L. Smith, Police Chief Steve Ford and the police department’s spokespeople, Lt. Michael Mellone and PIO Ashley Crandell asking to verify the information in the article and for the time and location of the press conference.
Ebbs responded, “The City of Antioch is investigating allegations revealed by information received against a number of Antioch Police Officers. The City has placed the officers on administrative leave pending the investigation of allegations. Given that this is a confidential personnel matter, no further information can be disclosed at this time.”
Thorpe confirmed the time of the press conference, said it will be held at City Hall and that the information reported in the article didn’t come from him.
Councilmembers Mike Barbanica and Lori Ogorchock said they weren’t aware of the matter before being informed by this reporter. “First I’ve heard or seen” of it, Ogorchock responded.
“I sure did not,” Barbanica responded when asked if he had heard about the matter. He then called Ebbs. Barbanica said Ebbs told him he had briefed Thorpe on the matter, just not the rest of the council.
“I told the acting city manager, we are a General Law City not a Charter City and if one council member was made aware, the entire council should have been made aware. For the mayor to be briefed and not the rest of the city council, this is unacceptable,” said Barbanica. “I asked him why I wasn’t made aware of this and why wasn’t the rest of the council made aware, and why did I have to learn of this from the media.”
The District 2 councilman said Ebbs told him Thursday morning, “in a very short period of time he was going to get communication out to the rest of the city council.” That was expected to be received by 10 a.m. prior to the press conference. “I’m waiting for the details to come out before making any additional comment,” Barbanica added. But he said he had an appointment in San Francisco at the time and couldn’t attend the press conference. “Had I been briefed about it, yesterday, I could have rearranged my schedule.”