The Prosecutors Alliance of California has asked the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors to audit the disciplinary practices in Sheriff David Livingston's department and increase outside oversight of alleged departmental misconduct.
The request comes in the wake of an email Livingston sent his department after the March 3 sentencing of Contra Costa deputy Andrew Hall, who received a six-year-prison sentence after being convicted of assault with a firearm in the 2018 killing of unarmed motorist Laudemer Arboleda in Danville.
Hall -- then an officer in Danville, which contracts with the Contra Costa County Sheriff's Office for police service -- also shot and killed Tyrell Wilson in 2021, after seeing the homeless man holding a pocketknife. The county has paid a total of $9.4 in settlement money to both families, even though the second killing is still being investigated.
In the email, Livingston wrote that Hall "served with honor and distinction," and "After an extensive internal investigation, he was found to be within departmental policy when he was forced to use deadly force to protect himself and others on that fateful day. I was proud to support him publicly and privately after the events of November 3, 2018, and I support him today."
"For our district attorney to charge a deputy sheriff, or any peace officer, for a crime based on a split-second tactical decision is abhorrent," Livingston wrote. "It is even more abhorrent for that same district attorney to later repost photos on her reelection campaign social media that show her smiling and proclaiming that she 'charged the officer.'"
The Prosecutors Alliance of California said Monday it sent a letter to the county board of supervisors, saying Livingston's remarks suggest "he believes his deputies are above the law, raising serious concerns over the legitimacy of an Internal Affairs investigation into former Deputy Andrew Hall and how the Sheriff is disciplining officers who abuse their authority."
"Sheriff Livingston's comments are abhorrent and indicate his belief that deputies who kill are above the law," said Cristine Soto DeBerry, the group's founder and executive director, in a statement. "Police have wide latitude to use force, but when they unnecessarily kill they must be held accountable just like anyone else in our community. When we do not hold police accountable, people do not trust the legal system to protect them. That makes the job of policing more difficult and dangerous, and it makes it far less likely that crimes will be reported. That, in turn, poses a threat to everyone's safety."
Livingston responded to the allegations Monday, writing in an email "The so-called 'Prosecutors Alliance' committee is made up of only four of the 58 DAs in the state. Contra Costa is not San Francisco or Los Angeles where two of their far-leftwing founding members serve. Instead of playing politics here, they should do their job and prosecute offenders and start caring about crime victims for once."
The alliance also said Hall being convicted for a shooting that Livingston's department found lawful "raises serious questions about the Sheriff's commitment to public safety and accountability."
"DA Becton courageously charged Officer Hall with the death of Mr. Arboleda, a jury convicted him, and a judge sentenced him to prison," said DeBerry. "Sheriff Livingston should accept the jury's verdict and look at ways to reduce the use of unnecessary force by his deputies rather than question the prosecutor's decision to bring charges and defiantly proclaim to 'have the back' of officers where a jury has determined the force to be criminal."