For the second time in two months, an outside investigator hired by the town has declared that citizen complaints against Atherton police officers are unfounded.
John Johns, the town's former finance director who successfully sued Atherton for wrongful termination, had accused officers of evidence tampering, retaliation, and unlawful detention related to an August 2007 incident.
Mr. Johns filed the citizen's complaint in February 2010, naming two officers, and later expanded the complaint to include additional officers.
The town hired Pete Peterson, a former police chief of Clayton, California, to investigate Mr. Johns' complaint. Atherton Police Chief Mike Guerra on March 10 notified Mr. Johns of the investigation's findings: all allegations are "unfounded."
Mr. Johns has challenged several elements of the investigation, and said he will seek a new review of the alleged police misconduct. A key contention is that he named five current officers in his complaint and amendments, he said. Yet, the findings refer to only four officers.
He also said that not all of the violations he alleges were committed against him were addressed.
In an e-mail written yesterday, Mr. Johns asked Chief Guerra which officers were investigated, and informed him that he intends to file a new complaint. Mr. Johns, who told the Almanac he couldn't locate the complaint in its entirety, also asked Chief Guerra to provide a copy of the complaint to him and to the newspaper.
"I ask that you provide me this information so that I can reconcile what the Atherton Police Department perceives to have been the nature and scope of my citizen's complaint and what I actually complained about," he wrote.
Chief Guerra said yesterday (March 15) that his staff is reviewing Mr. Johns' requests and comments.
Mr. Johns' complaints stem from his detention in Town Center by officers, including then-police chief Robert Brennan, when he was on administrative leave from his town post. Mr. Johns maintains that the incident was in retaliation for his audits of the police department that cited irregularities. He was fired two months later.
Mr. Peterson also conducted the investigation into resident Jon Buckheit's complaints against the department over the alteration of a police report detailing Mr. Buckheit's 2008 arrest during a domestic violence incident.
Mr. Buckheit and other residents had protested the hiring of Mr. Peterson, and pushed instead for the appointment of an outside investigator by a judge or former judge.
Mr. Peterson concluded in January that Mr. Buckheit's complaints were "unfounded," a ruling Mr. Buckheit challenged as incomprehensible.