LMPD

LA MESA’S NEW POLICE CHIEF AIMS TO BUILD TRUST, HEAR COMMUNITY’S CONCERNS AT FIRST TOWN HALL MEETING

By Miriam Raftery

Photo:  LMPD Chief Ray Sweeney

August 8, 2021 (La Mesa) – At the first of four town hall meetings held by La Mesa Police billed as community outreach and listening sessions, newly appointed Chief Ray Sweeney promised to work with community members to make changes. The Chief spoke of changes in the work, then fielded questions from the public.

MEET THE CHIEF: LA MESA POLICE HOST FIRST OF FOUR COMMUNITY CONVERSATIONS THURSDAY, JULY 29

By Miriam Raftery

July 27, 2021 (La Mesa) – The La Mesa Police Department has announced a series of four town halls for residents to meet newly appointed Police Chief Ray Sweeney and police staff. Each two-hour discussion is described as a community conversation and listening session.

The sessions, all on Thursdays from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., are:

July 29           Rolando Elementary School

August 5  Lemon Avenue Elementary School

August 12  Maryland Avenue Elementary School

August 19  Northmont Elementary School

LA MESA CHOOSES RAY SWEENEY AS NEW POLICE CHIEF

By Alexa Oslowski

Photo: Chief Ray Sweeney, via City of La Mesa

July 10, 2021 (La Mesa) - La Mesa announced on July 1 that Captain Ray Sweeney will serve as the new La Mesa Police Chief, effective immediately. The selection was made by City Manager Greg Humora. Sweeney has served as a Captain in La Mesa Police since 2015 and has previously served in the United States Army and the Army National Guard.

“After a comprehensive and thorough recruitment process, I am confident Ray Sweeney is the leader we need to advance our Police Department and sustain our professionalism and focus on best practices to deliver for our community. The La Mesa Community will benefit from his immediate familiarity with our City and Police Department while also leveraging his strong character and clear vision for effective community policing,” City Manager Humora said in the press release.

This appointment comes almost a year after former La Mesa Police Chief Walt Vasquez announced his retirement would start in August 2020, just months after La Mesa’s controversial stops of Amaurie Johnson and racial justice protests that turned into riots in May 2020.

CRIMINAL CHARGES AGAINST EX-LA MESA POLICE OFFICER MATT DAGES FOR FILING FALSE REPORT IN AMAURIE JOHNSON CASE

By Miriam Raftery

January 4, 2020 (La Mesa) -- San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan announced today that a criminal charge has been filed against a former La Mesa Police Officer in connection with an arrest of Amaurie Johnson, 23, near the Grossmont trolley station in La Mesa. The criminal complaint alleges that on May 28, 2020, Officer Matthew Dages, 30, filed a police report that contained false information.

The incident was shown in a video that went viral on social media, sparking racial justice protests. The Dages incident occurred three days after the killing of George Floyd by a white police officer in Minneapolis triggered nationwide protests and two days before a riot resulted in looting, vandalism and the burning down of three buildings in La Mesa.  The Johnson arrest has been likened to the fuse that ignited a powder keg of explosive rage over mistreatment of black suspects by white police officers.

TUESDAY PROTEST IN LA MESA STAYS PEACEFUL; MAN BRIEFLY DETAINED AFTER DISPLAYING PEPPER SPRAY AT PROTESTERS

 

Story and photos by Briana Gomez

Photo: Roger Ogden and Tasha Williamson in verbal confrontation

Updated August 16 with additional comments from Ogden.

August 12,  2020 (La Mesa) -- La Mesa police detained but later released a man with alleged ties to a racist group  during a Black Lives Matter protest on Tuesday, following a vocal confrontation with activist Tasha Williamson.  LMPD led Roger Ogden into the police station in handcuffs for reportedly displaying pepper spray during the altercation. On his blog, Ogden called Williamson a “terrorist” and called her a "liar" at the rally. Williamson denounced Ogden at the rally as a “racist clown.”  Each has denied the others claims of racism and inciting terror.  View video.

Despite verbal barbs, at the August 11 rally and an earlier protest on May 1, protesters remained non-violent. Unlike a major protest May 30 that ended in burning of buildings, rioting and looting, the only arrests at the most recent protests were of individuals accused of harassing protesters, both with ties to white nationalist or racist groups. On May 1st, as ECM reported, Ryan McAdams, who has a history of racial clashes, was arrested for battery and pepper spray possession.

PROTEST PLANNED AT LA MESA POLICE STATION ON SATURDAY, AUGUST 1

 

By Miriam Raftery

July 24, 2020 (La Mesa) – Another  protest against the La Mesa  Police Department  has been announced  for Saturday, August 1, at 3:30 p.m. outside the La Mesa Police Department. The flyer indicates that "civil disobedience" is planned and indicates this event is for adults only. The action comes amid nationwide protests calling for police accountability and racial justice.

The protest comes two months after a May 30 protest over police and racial justice issues dissolved into a riot that ended with police pelted by rocks and bottles, three buildings burned down and dozens of buildings looted. However several protests that remained peaceful have been held since then including a unity rally and Juneteeth rally.

LMPD CHIEF RECEIVES REPORT ON AMAURIE JOHNSON INCIDENT NEAR TROLLEY STATION

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Amaurie Johnson, courtesy of Ken Stone, Times of San Diego

July 10, 2020 (La Mesa) – Today, the city of La Mesa announced that an external investigation has been completed into a controversial incident that occurred May27 involved a La Mesa Police officer and Amaurie Johnson.  The result of the external investigation has been forwarded to LMPD Chief Walt Vasquez for his review and a determination on what action if any will be taken.

No further details were provided and the report has not been made public.

LA MESA GIRDS FOR “UNITY PROTEST AND RIDE” SUNDAY, JUNE 14

By Miriam Raftery

June 13, 2020 (La Mesa) – La Mesa Police Department has sent an alert out to inform the public of a protest planned tomorrow at 1 p.m. at the La Mesa Police Department.  The LMPD advisory indicates the protest is expected to be peaceful and that protesters free speech rights will be respected, but that mutual aid from law enforcement agencies across the county are prepared to respond to protect La Mesa if that situation changes.

According to a flyer posted on social media sites, the “Unity Protest” will welcome motorcyclists from clubs across the region in a “Unity Ride” starting in San Diego and ending at the LMPD station, where two weeks ago a protest against police violence that began peacefully ended in assaults tageting police and a barrage of nonlethal weapons fired at protesters, followed by a rampage of looting, vandalism, and the burning of buildings and vehicles.

EXCLUSIVE: ECM INTERVIEWS LA MESA MAYOR AND POLICE CHIEF ON PROTEST PREPARATIONS AND RIOT RESPONSES

 

By Miriam Raftery

Videography by Paul Kruze

June 10, 2020 (La Mesa) – Hours after the city of La Mesa released a timeline and incident narrative on the May 30-31 protest over police violence and the riot that ensued, ECM editor Miriam Raftery and contributing editor Paul Kruze conducted exclusive interviews with Mayor Mark Arapostathis and La Mesa Police Chief Walt Vasquez yesterday at the La Mesa community center, seeking answers to questions on protest preparations and riot responses.

CHARGES DROPPED AGAINST AMAURIE JOHNSON AFTER BODY CAM VIDEO FAILS TO BACK LMPD OFFICER’S ACCOUNT

 

Incident sparked protest May 30 that ended in riot

By Kendra Sitton and Miriam Raftery

Photo: Amaurie Johnson, courtesy of Ken Stone, Times of San Diego, a member of the San Diego Online News Association

Warning: videos contain strong language

June 6, 2020 (La Mesa) - The La Mesa Police Department has dropped charges against Amaurie Johnson, a black man whose controversial arrest was captured in a viral video last week.  Demostrations last Saturday at the LMPD headquarters protested the arrest of Johnson as well as the death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer.

 La Mesa Chief of Police Walt Vasquez announced yesterday that "after a full review of all of the evidence in the criminal investigation" against Johnson, the police department will not seek prosecution "on any of the alleged misdemeanor charges."

The announcement follows release of body cam footage released June 3 showing the interactions between Johnson, 23, and La Mesa Police Officer Matt Dages near the Grossmont Trolley Station on Wednesday, May 27.  That footage does not support the officer’s version of events but does show Dages pushing Johnson and grabbing his shirt.

Johnson had been arrested for assaulting an officer and resisting arrest, which he denied.

PHOTOGRAPHER HIT BY PEPPER SPRAY SHARES FRONT-LINE EXPERIENCE COVERING PROTEST IN LA MESA

 

Hear our interview with Henri Migala, aired on KNSJ radio: click here

By Henri Migala

June 4, 2020 (La Mesa) - My daughter, Rachel, a selfless and dedicated social justice advocate, told me about a demonstration in La Mesa Saturday afternoon in response to the death of George Floyd. I’ve been a responsible citizen for the past several months, self-quarantining at home in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. But like many around the world, I was outraged by the senseless death of Floyd under the knee of a Minnesota police officer.  

I wanted to support the minority community by documenting this historic occasion as a photographer and as a social scientist. So I grabbed my camera and headed for the protest, never imagining the chain of events that would soon engulf the community and put La Mesa into the national news spotlight.

Audio: 

STUDENT BODY-SLAMMED AT HELIX HIGH FILES LAWSUIT AGAINST LA MESA AND POLICE OFFICER

By Miriam Raftery

October 25, 2018 (La Mesa)—Brianna Bell, a Helix Charter High School student shown on video slammed to the ground in handcuffs by a La Mesa Police officer, has filed a federal lawsuit against the City of La Mesa (Brianna Bell v. City of La Mesa, Scott Wulfing, U.S. District Court Case No. 18CV2455 BEN BLM).

The lawsuit alleges that LMPD School Resource Officer Scott Wulfing used excessive force, violated Bell’s civil rights, inflicted emotional distress, and committed assault and battery. Officer Wulfing is also named individually in the suit. He is on administrative leave pending the outcome of a third party independent investigation.

VEHICLES SHOT IN LA MESA

 

By Miriam Raftery

September 10, 2015 (La Mesa) – La Mesa Police received a call at 10:06 p.m. last night reporting shots fired in the 4400 block of Parks Avenue, only a block from La Mesa Dale Elementary School.   

Responding officers “rolled out to the scene and found three cars with bullet holes,” Sergeant Brian Stoney told East County Magazine.

Thus far police have no suspect and no motive. 

LA MESA POLICE SERGEANT BITTEN BY POLICE K-9 FROM EL CAJON

 

February 7, 2013 (La Mesa)—La Mesa Police Sergeant Michael Pierce sustained lacerations to his left arm and wrist from a bite by a police canine during a search for a suspect on February 4. At 7:49 p.m. La Mesa Police responded to a report of a disturbance in the 8200 block of Orchard Avenue, where a suspect reportedly had threatened his brother with a hammer. An El Cajon Police K-9 responded to assist in searching for the suspect.

TEACHER’S AIDE ARRESTED FOR SEXUAL OFFENSES IN LA MESA

 
July 17, 2012 (La Mesa)—La Mesa Police yesterday arrested Chrystina Delrosario, a teacher's aide at Reflections Central School, for unlawful sexual intercourse with a 15-year-old male student. 
 
Officials at the school notified the police department after receiving information that the student may have had sex with the teacher’s aide. The patrol officer was assisted by detectives, who conducted the preliminary investigation. 

LA MESA RESIDENTS HELP APPREHEND VEHICLE BURGLAR

 

June 19, 2012 (La Mesa)—On June 15 at 9 a.m., a resident in the 7400 block of Sturgess Avenue in La Mesa, observed a man burglarizing his vehicle. The victim realized his vehicle window had been broken and observed the suspect holding a screwdriver and stealing property from the vehicle. The victim called La Mesa Police as the suspect fled the scene on foot, jumping over fences and cutting through the back yards of residences. 

LA MESA NEIGHBORS HELP APPREHEND BURGLARS

 
Trio of Santee Residents arrested 

June 14, 2012 (Santee) – Yesterday morning at 10:46 a.m., several neighbors in the 8700 block of Van Horn Street in La Mesa saw three people pull up in a car and park. One exited the car and rang the doorbell of a residence in an apparent attempt to see if someone was home. When no one answered, the male walked around to the rear of house. Several neighbors who witnessed this called the La Mesa Police Department.

DRUG AWARENESS PRESENTATION FOR APARTMENT MANAGERS PRESENTED BY LA MESA POLICE

 
April 4, 2012 (La Mesa) -- On April 10, 2012, the La Mesa Police Department will be presenting a Drug Awareness presentation for apartment managers. Attendees will learn how to identify illegal drugs and drug paraphernalia and how to recognize symptoms of persons under the influence of drugs. This meeting is open to all La Mesa apartment managers and owners. Reservations are encouraged.