Sep 10, 2009

2nd post, Freitas v PHPD

This page discusses these specific topics..

The PHPD's grossly suggestive suspect ID process performed by Officer Scott Senst, as well as what appears to be fabricated evidence which nevertheless contributed to "Probable Cause," (thus a legal arrest).

Photo line-up? One-inch-sized photos with first and last names included under each.

Internal investigation: The PHPD declined to release its findings.

Refusing to acknowledge their countless mistakes, lack of effort and rush to judgment.. To get themselves off the hook the PHPD placed blame of Anthony's arrest and incarceration on an unassuming witness.

Jury Deliberations

The PHPD's misleading and unsupported statements to the CCC D.A.'s office, and to the media.

Sgt. Dan Connelly's questionable account--while present at the suspect ID process.

Captain John Moore...who was the "acting Chief" on this particular day..

Neglecting to interrogate Anthony prior to his arrest within minutes of arriving home from working on a class project--having had four, credible adult alibi witnesses in his presence.

The true offender--Christopher Escover's outstanding, no bail warrant in existence while he lived at home in Pleasant Hill with the former P-Hill Mayor/ret. CCC sheriff's deputy.

Escover's arrest/release for a previous stabbing/attempted car-jacking etc., etc. less than 5 months earlier.

Special treatment?

PHPD officers and the former mayor/ret. deputy who were subpoenaed, yet did not take the stand during the trial.. Freitas v PHPD.

THREE DAYS PRIOR to his son turning himself in for both stabbings---phone contact was made between the former mayor/deputy's home and the PHPD.

Anthony's immediate alibi as told to Captain John Moore, also stated in the presence of Officer Craig Sillers.

The PHPD's blatant refusal to meet with Anthony's alibi witnesses.

Detective Kelli Geis's phone admonishment to a credible parent witness--that she can get in trouble for lying (while giving her alibi-verifying phone statement on Anthony's behalf prior to
him being transported, then booked into the county jail).

Officer Scott Senst's incomprehensible statement to a credible alibi witness.

Sgt Lisa Hugdahl's statement that alibi witnesses can lie in person too.

$30,000.000 bail

$10,000.00 criminal defense attorney retainer.

Broadcast of Anthony's arrest... KTVU Channel 2 news amongst various other news media/radio


During the early afternoon of Jan. 4th, 2007 a young woman-witness made a 911 phone call in which she talks about "the kid" she saw running from the crime scene (a stabbing) at College Park High School. She said "the kid" 4 or 5 times while talking to the dispatcher. Later in the call she says.. "..I think I recognize him" but does not name anyone, showing-through her own communication-she was not certain the suspect was someone she knew, or knew well.

During the suspect ID process, the young woman told PHPD Officer Scott Senst the person fleeing the scene "looked like Anthony-on-the-baseball-team." (We've never argued Christopher Escover and Anthony look similar). This gal did not purposely pinpoint Anthony as a possible suspect. She simply stated the person running through the parking lot (whose face she saw "for probably 2 seconds at the very most") looked like him. She did not know Anthony well enough to know his last name. Officer Senst was aware of this significant fact. He is heard in a recorded police-radio call, saying.. "..suspect possibly name of Anthony." (This witness stated in her deposition she was never 100% positive in the identification of Anthony. She also felt pressured by Officer Senst who "was not happy" while she vaguely described what the fleeing suspect was wearing.)

Officer Senst asked a College Park High administrator to figure out who "Anthony-on-the-baseball-team" was. The administrator brought out to the scene a single sheet of one-inch-sized photos--first and last names included under each. Officer Senst did not ask the school administrator to cover the names before he took possession of the photo sheet. Immediately following Officer Senst having handed the page of photos to the witnesses (who stood together, and within 2 to 3 feet of the victim) the older woman-witness pointed to a male student she believed resembled the suspect. The person in that photo was not Anthony. Nothing was discussed, or reported by Officer Scott Senst as to this particular witness having chosen a male student suspect other than Anthony. There is no record of the PHPD questioning that student/possible suspect or looking into his activities prior to or following the stabbing.
While viewing the photos together, the younger woman-witness--who has indicated she was looking for his name--found the only "Anthony" photo presented to her (first and last names included) then stated to the other witness "no, no, this is him" while pointing to the Anthony Freitas photo.
***Officer Scott Senst's police report-documented version of what took place reads like this... "Both (women) immediately and emphatically identified Anthony Freitas as the subject who had run across the street in front of them."
This grossly conflicting-yet officially recorded-statement is a false claim which contributed to Anthony's arrest and incarceration. Officer Senst's report with his apparently fabricated statement was forwarded to the Contra Costa County District Attorney's office.."for prosecution of Freitas." In our opinion this in itself is an act worthy of criminal prosecution. It appears Officer Senst's false reporting has been disregarded, when in fact all previous reporting by him--on any case--should be carefully scrutinized. If not, why not?

What are the consequences of a PHPD officer documenting a critical, false statement/false evidence, jeopardizing one's civil liberty? How many law-abiding civilians must be affected before action is taken? There should be zero tolerance for any law enforcement officer documenting evidence that never existed, especially when it results in an innocent person being arrested and jailed ($30,000 bail, $10,000 criminal defense attorney-retainer).
Note: Anthony and his attorney's requests for a copy of the PHPD's internal investigation related to this case have been denied all along. No access whatsoever has been given to the internal investigation's findings, or action taken--if any.
Although we have requested an explanation in writing, PHPD Chief Dunbar has not responded with clarification as to Officer Scott Senst's crucial, false reporting of evidence which contributed to Anthony's arrest and incarceration.


Following the younger woman having pointed to the single "Anthony" photo while at the crime scene, Officer Scott Senst did not ask her how sure she was about the identity of Anthony Freitas (as the possible suspect) which investigators are instructed to ask--assuming they've been properly trained. This critical step in the suspect identification process would provide assurance in safeguarding one's civil liberty, and should be highly regarded. Although she thought the person running from the crime scene looked like Anthony-on-the-baseball-team she had not been to a single game while he was on the team (3 years). Her mother had told her Anthony played for College Park High. She saw Anthony once or twice at a local, private pool club--2 to 3 years before this incident occurred. They had never had a class together, or a conversation, anywhere. She left College Park High in 2005. This witness was not aware of Anthony's last name until Officer Scott Senst handed her the single page of photos presenting ONE "Anthony"-the one on the baseball team.
PHPD Sgt. Dan Connelly stated in a police radio call that the suspect had been "ID'd by a photograph as being Anthony 'Freitas.'"
Following the witness having chosen the Anthony photo presented to her, Officer Scott Senst and the PHPD legally established "probable cause" to arrest and jail him. (Having established probable cause was all the PHPD/City of Pleasant Hill needed to prevail in the trial). This is a complete miscarriage of justice. Who's being held accountable for the grossly tainted and completely suggestive photo/suspect ID process they (specific officers) created?

Probable Cause must exist before an arrest is made. Probable Cause exists "when the totality of the facts and circumstances within a police officer's knowledge at the moment of arrest are sufficient for a reasonable person to conclude that the suspect had committed or was committing an offense."

When police officers make an arrest--in haste, under highly questionable circumstances, the result of a blatantly corrupt suspect ID process, it is obviously unlikely they've taken the time to gain sufficient knowledge, or facts, prior to their moment of arrest.

(Read further in this blog regarding the trial--Anthony Freitas v The City of Pleasant Hill/PHPD, June/July 2009)...
As instructed by the judge to be the jury's first decision during deliberations...Did the PHPD establish "probable cause" prior to arresting Anthony Freitas?
What choice did the jury have when making this decision? (Regardless of officers' dereliction of duty, and having rejected his alibi)...As a result of a single witness choosing the one and only "Anthony" photo presented to her the PHPD gained the legal right (probable cause) to arrest and jail him. Following this one and only determination the jury was not allowed to deliberate further--and the trial came to an end.


As you will learn in this writing... Initially, the PHPD made unsupported and misleading claims of evidence, along with wrongful assumptions-prior to jailing Anthony at the County Detention Facility. When we insisted on answers to these claims and assumptions the justification wasn't there, or parts of the story changed (after the arrest and jailing). Instead of accepting responsibility for, and answering to their grossly substandard investigative actions and false documented statements of evidence, it later appeared the PHPD's lawsuit defense strategy was to focus on one measure; convince the jury that they had established "probable cause" (by placing blame of Anthony's arrest and incarceration on one person, the unassuming young woman who pointed to the identifying photo after Officer Senst handed it to the witness(es)). As you've learned, this outright suggestive process led to unreliable (at best) results in identifying a possible offender. The opportunity simply existed for the PHPD to do more, sound, investigative work--as they were trained to do-- prior to arresting then jailing our son.


Sgt. Dan Connelly had been present during the suspect ID process. He, too, it appears, did not observe (while the witnesses stood together and within 2 to 3 feet of the victim) the older woman having identified a different male suspect on the photo sheet. There was doubt the suspect was Anthony which went unnoticed or disregarded at a very critical moment of this investigation.
Sgt. Connelly had not suggested separating witnesses--to get individual accounts from each, then consider and investigate the independent findings. (His training comes into question.) The PHPD reported to the news media, and to the Contra Costa County District Attorney-(for prosecution of Freitas) that the "victim and witnesses" identified Anthony Freitas as the suspect. The reprehensibly inadequate investigative manner, which stripped a model citizen of his civil liberty, and misled the media in an attempt to justify this cursory arrest, is beyond explanation.

During his deposition Sgt. Dan Connelly said he'd been looking over the witness's shoulder while she was looking at a "book" of photographs similar to a yearbook. He described it as "probably the size of one of these phonebooks."
What the witnesses were looking at, together, was the single sheet of photographs identifying each student. There was no book shown to the witnesses at the crime scene. At a point in time after his deposition Sgt. Connelly changed his statement.


As he arrived home--to waiting Pleasant Hill police officers the afternoon of January 4th, 2007--our son had no idea what was about to unfold. As Anthony slowly drove up our street, then having parked in our driveway, he was immediately detained in handcuffs by PHPD Captain John Moore. Having not been on the school campus when the stabbing occurred, Anthony truthfully explained his whereabouts to Captain Moore. He had been in a classmate's home working on an Economics Class project. Four adults-a sworn peace officer, his equally credible wife, and two adult classmates-were present at the home as well. It appears there was no suggestion by Captain Moore-who was the acting PHPD Chief of Police that day-to interrogate Anthony, or suggest to the very investigators he was overseeing that they attempt to contact any of Anthony's four, credible, adult alibi witnesses prior to...

...(within just minutes of being detained in front of our home), Sgt. Dan Connelly arrived from the tainted suspect ID process, indicating to Captain John Moore there was sufficient probable cause to arrest Anthony Freitas for aggravated assault, a felony offense.
No interrogation? Investigate his stated, concrete alibi? Why the rush to arrest? Anthony wasn't a threat to anyone, and was fully cooperative while detained in handcuffs. Captain John Moore had plenty of backup, as at least seven PHPD officers converged in front of our home. (All of this taking place while the true offender, Christopher Escover, son of the former mayor/ret. county sheriff's deputy remained free (no charges filed following his previous (2006) arrest for the attempted car-jacking, attempted robbery, false imprisonment, assault with a deadly weapon (knife) doing great bodily injury, having had blood on his clothing as well)). Also, while rushing to get Anthony off the streets, an outstanding, no bail warrant (parole violation) had been in existence for Christopher Escover's arrest while he lived at home with the former mayor-in Pleasant Hill. The PHPD had been aware of this outstanding warrant.
We've asked PHPD Chief Peter many attempts were made to serve the outstanding, no bail warrant on this known, dangerous young man? This question remains unanswered. Was the PHPD truly concerned about the safety of those who live in, or visit the Pleasant Hill area? Was the D.A. not concerned about the personal safety of those in Contra Costa County? Was special treatment afforded the son of the former mayor/deputy? Why no explanation, still?
Judge Baskin would not allow any questions or evidence whatsoever in the jury's presence referring to Anthony's/our detailing two different styles of law enforcement carried out by the PHPD, and the resulting lawlessness following the special treatment they appear to have provided under these very dangerous circumstances. If charges had been filed following the 2006 arrest/attempted car-jacking attack and/or the Pleasant Hill Police Department had served the outstanding warrant they had possessed, Escover would not have had the opportunity to strike again. Another young man would not have been stabbed. Our son's arrest, incarceration and ensuing costly damages would not have occurred.
The PHPD and D.A. apparently share no legal responsibility for the subsequent violent act, and it's aftermath.

It is our understanding Judge Baskin believed some witness testimony would be duplicative of others, or would not pertain to probable cause related to Anthony's arrest. With a number of witnesses not yet called to the stand, Anthony had to rest his case-prematurely. Anthony's alibi witness--the mother whose home he was in when the stabbing occurred on the school campus could not take the stand though she was scheduled and waiting in the hallway outside the courtroom door. Subpoenaed witnesses not taking the stand included, amongst others, Police Chief Peter Dunbar, Captain John Moore, Lt. Peter Enea, Det./Sgt. Lisa Hugdahl, the victim, Det. Matt Kristic, the former Pleasant Hill Mayor/retired deputy sheriff-Chuck Escover and his wife-who could have been questioned, amongst other things, as to the content of the phone contact made between them and the Pleasant Hill Police Department 3 days before their son was arrested for this violent 2007 offense.
As Anthony's parents, we would have appreciated 3 days to discuss our son's predicament--prior to the PHPD arresting then jailing him.


Prior to Anthony's arrest, a College Park High Administrator made statements to PHPD Officer Scott Senst--at the crime scene--telling him school office staff felt it would be "shocking" if he was involved in the stabbing because "Anthony's always a good kid." This credible school official had also stated.. "It's amazing (to think) that it could be him."

Anthony has never had a ticket (moving violation), and had had no previous contact by the Pleasant Hill Police Department, or any other law enforcement agency, anywhere.
Adults who have known Anthony for years telephoned the PHPD, expressing strong beliefs that they must have the wrong young man in custody. Their statements were disregarded as well.


After learning that our son had been arrested for a stabbing within minutes of working on the Economics Class project, the parent-sworn peace officer-alibi witness telephoned the PHPD. While speaking to Det. Kelli Geis, having informed her of his employment at our county's juvenile hall, he offered to go to the PHPD--(along with his wife)--to speak with investigators in person. In response to this vital offer, Det. Kelli Geis told the significant alibi witness it was not necessary for him and his wife to come to the PHPD to meet with investigators in person-thus rejecting these crucial alibi witnesses. This reckless investigating by Det. Kelli Geis showed a careless disregard for Anthony's civil liberty, yet it was not an unlawful or unconstitutional act by this public servant whose neglectful decision-making affects civil liberties.

(Immediately following the peace officer-alibi witness's phone conversation with Det. Kelli Geis)...While his wife was adamantly stating the time of day Anthony had been in her home, in her presence at the kitchen table, on her laptop computer-while he worked on the class project, this mother-alibi was admonished by Det. Kelli Geis-who asked the witness if she knew she could get in trouble for lying.
As stated, this parent-alibi witness was not allowed to take the stand-per Judge Baskin.

Prior to transporting our son to the county jail the Pleasant Hill Police Department rejected corroborating alibi statements given by two credible parents. Additionally, and incomprehensibly, their son (another alibi witness) was left a cell phone message by Officer Scott Senst who told this young man...."There's no point in interviewing you...since we've already spoken to your parents."
This unconscionable denial by Officer Scott Senst as well showed a blatant disregard for Anthony's civil liberty. Officer Senst and Det. Kelli Geis had no basis whatsoever to assume Anthony, and his adult alibi witnesses were being dishonest.

Immediately following our son's arrest we arrived at the Pleasant Hill Police Department's front desk/lobby. Due to Anthony having just turned 18 years of age (an adult) we were not allowed any contact with him. While desperately inquiring as to our son's state PHPD Det./Sgt. Lisa Hugdahl told us Anthony would need a complete change of clothes, and shoes. He was ordered by Det. Kelli Geis and Officer Scott Senst to remove everything he was wearing-for evidentiary purposes. In response to further questioning our son's status, Det./Sgt. Hugdahl informed us.. Anthony would either be released to go home, or he'd be going to the county jail. We then asked Det./Sgt. Lisa Hugdahl if the alibi witnesses should come to the PHPD to speak with investigators in person. Det/Sgt. Hugdahl's response to Anthony's father was that the alibi witnesses can lie in person, too.
Det./Sgt. Lisa Hugdahl was subpoenaed by Anthony, though she did not take the stand during the trial.

NO ONE from the Pleasant Hill Police Department made an attempt to meet with the alibi witnesses who had not only offered to meet, they were immediately available--five minutes away from the PHPD.

Shortly after Det. Geis, Officer Senst and Det./Sgt. Hugdahl refused the opportunity to meet with the alibi witnesses, Anthony was transported, then booked into the Contra Costa County jail--$30,000.00 bail. (criminal defense attorneys-retainer of $10,000.00, with many more expenses to follow..up to our total out-of-pocket costs of approximately Thirty Five Thousand Dollars--while seeking evidence and answers from the Pleasant Hill Police Department. Anthony's pre-trial/trial attorney took the case on a contingent basis as he believed in our effort to seek a reasonable explanation, compensation and justice.

Anthony was "scared to death" incarcerated with a number of men/arrestees--including some wearing San Quentin jumpsuits. He was now an "inmate" as shown on our caller ID when he phoned, asking if we knew when he could come home.

News of the arrest and Anthony's identity were broadcast throughout Northern California and beyond following a hasty press release by the PHPD. They included.. KTVU Channel 2 news (how Anthony's elderly grandparents learned of his arrest), KGO San Francisco radio, the Contra Costa Times newspaper, various internet news websites, and the College Park High newspaper-while attending his Senior year. Anthony's arrest was also "featured" on a nationwide high school Journalism website.
In contrast, Anthony (still a "lead" at the time) and the news media were not notified of Christopher Escover's arrest for this particular assault until 3 days after his arrest occurred.

**Six days after Anthony's arrest and jailing--PHPD investigators met with his alibi witnesses. At this time they found these adults to be credible. No apology or compensation ($11,000.00+ in damages) was offered to Anthony/us by the Pleasant Hill Police Department.


(June/2007)...While still seeking an explanation from the Pleasant Hill Police Department as to their suspect ID process, the victim reportedly having identified Anthony as the suspect though he (the victim) had had at least one conflict with Escover in the past (as stated by adults with first-hand knowledge), no apology from the PHPD for their grave mistakes, errors in judgment, and refusal to turn over evidence they'd used against Anthony, etc., etc., we quickly learned that our efforts, alone, would not produce convincing answers, and solid facts from the Pleasant Hill Police Department.
With the assistance of a private investigator, crime scene witness statements, sworn alibi witness declarations, etc., it was clear, statements made, and documented by the PHPD-while attempting to justify Anthony's arrest-greatly conflicted with our findings.
Without a reasonable explanation, nor proven/stated evidence, and our monetary damages exceeding $11,000 we/Anthony filed a claim against the PHPD/City of Pleasant Hill. Our claim was, not surprisingly, rejected. Melene Maxfield of the Municipal Pooling Authority-the City of Pleasant Hill's insurance administer-stated... "The investigation into this matter shows the police followed proper investigation procedures during the course of this incident. As a result the City must reject your claim. The City will defend itself in court should it prove to be necessary."

Seeking answers from our tax-payer-supported "public servants" is a costly feat. However, walking away was not an option. Without progress being made in our search for the truth, we/Anthony decided to seek answers, evidence and compensation through the court--believing this was our final opportunity to seek justice, and an apology. The PHPD continued to deny it was their unfounded rush to judgment, inconceivable lack of effort, improper handling of investigations, (in addition to a non-follow-through on Escover's 2006 blood evidence?) etc. that contributed to Anthony's arrest and ensuing, costly aftermath. Furthermore, the Pleasant Hill Police Department, Mayor David Durant, City Manager June Catalano, nor the City Council had responded to the numerous inquiries within our 13-page formal complaint filed-Sept. 1st, 2007-eight months after Anthony's arrest.
It is our understanding one member of that particular City Council is a close friend and neighbor of the Escover family.

(December/2007)..No offer of compensation had been made, though our monetary costs directly related to Anthony's arrest were now approx. $14,000.00. Following these paid expenses, and eleven months of questioning investigative procedures, ignored requests for evidence, conflicting and false statements in police reports, etc., Anthony/we filed suit in Contra Costa County Superior Court. We believed (at the time), through the legal process the PHPD would be compelled-in front of a jury-to explain Christopher Escover's 2006 attempted carjacking/stabbing arrest then release from incarceration with no charges filed, their rush to incarcerate Anthony-disregarding his substantiated alibi, amongst numerous other stated inconsistencies. Anthony and us-his parents, felt we unquestionably deserved nothing less than a clear explanation as to his arrest and jailing.

end of 2nd page/post..
see right side of page for 3rd listed (dated) post..