The Joint Legislative Audit Committee is calling for an investigation of the Department of Developmental Services, in particular, its in-house police force, the OPS or Office of Protective Services. OPS has been under fire for years for reportedly conducting lax investigations into mysterious abuses and even deaths at Sonoma and the other developmental centers.
In 2006, the U.S. Justice Department review ended with a troubling conclusion -- that the Department of Investigations, "...Fail to reconcile evidence appropriately, fail to include interviews of relevant staff and residents... and fail to determine the cause of serious incidents."
Assemblyman Jim Beall, D-San Jose, co-authored the bill. He said, "This is a series of repeated incidents. It shows they have a lack of integrity in terms of their investigative abilities."
Beall says the tasering of patients at Sonoma Developmental Center is another atrocious example of the police department's incompetence.
Here is a chronology of what happened, based on internal documents related to their investigation.
Last September, the director of the center received a message on his answering machine. The anonymous caller said someone has a stun gun and was using it on patients. The man was identified as psychiatric technician assistant Archie Mallori. He worked at the center nearly 14 years. Officers confronted Millora and found a taser in his car and a loaded Glock semi-automatic pistol, plus a separate magazine with live rounds.
Nurses examined patients in his care and found suspicious abrasions on 12 people. A forensic pathologist concluded that the marks were most likely left by a taser.
All of the reported patients have extreme difficulty communicating. But when questioned, one of them uttered the word "stun" and Millora's name which in the incident report identified as "Staff A." Millora was eventually fired but he was never arrested. In April, he pleaded no contest to misdemeanor possession of a loaded firearm. He got probation and a $190 fine.
But Millora was never charged with the taser assaults, which if convicted would have given him serious prison time. We've learned that the Office of Protective Services decided to handle the case as an administrative matter.
St. Sen. Joel Anderson, R-San Diego, is a co-sponsor of the audit bill. He said, "This has to be investigated. At the end of the day, we have people's lives in our hands and we have to insure that they're being protected."
The Department of Developmental Services declined our request for an interview. Instead, they issued a statement instead saying in part, "We continued to take aggressive action to improve our internal law enforcement and welcome the audit."