DAVIS (CBS13) — Former Sacramento County Sheriff John McGinness was set to investigate the conduct of Davis police during a Picnic Day brawl, but now he has withdrawn from his role after remarks on his radio show prompted a city councilman to call for his replacement.
“What he said was abhorrent, the fact he stands by it is puzzling, but I’m happy he won’t be conducting this investigation,” said Davis City Councilman Will Arnold.
Arnold says comments McGinness made on his radio show last week regarding African-Americans, could hurt the investigation.
On Friday, during an unrelated radio talk on capitalism, McGinness said, “If you look at certain groups within our broad population, for example, African-Americans in this country did much, much, much, much better before the Civil Rights Act. Yeah, believe it or not, they did.”
McGinness stands behind his words.
He said, “It’s not a matter of injecting an opinion frankly at all, but rather looking at the historical reality.”
In that talk, McGinness did add that slavery was a horrific period in our history, but says he based his remarks on statistical data from the U.S. Census Bureau from before and after the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
“The trajectory for African Americans prior to that time frame was actually positive, when it came to income earned, intact families, graduation rates, things were rather well,” he said.
According to U.S. Census data, 23 percent of African-Americans were high-school graduates in 1960, versus more than 80 percent in 2010. In 1955, 55.1 percent of African-Americans lived below the poverty line, compared to 24.1 percent in 2015.
His words raise concerns.
“They strike at the heart of the independence and lack of prejudice needed to run this investigation,” said councilman Arnold.
The city hired McGinness after Davis police launched an internal investigation into the picnic day brawl between three plainclothes officers and a group of people.
Police say the officers were kicked and punched while attempting to control the crowd on Russell Blvd. April 22, but the three black men arrested allege that police engaged in racial bias and excessive force.
“It would be a good idea to remove him because he doesn’t seem very impartial,” said Davis student Alex Eisner.
McGinness announced Monday that he is stepping down and doesn’t want this to become about him, or get in the way of this investigation.
“It’s very important that the people of Davis know what took place there, and understand the decisions made by law enforcement, I don’t want to do anything to compromise that whatsoever,” he said.
The Davis Police Chief said his desire is to have this investigation happen in an independent way, where the community can support the outcome.
Meanwhile, Councilman Arnold says the city attorney is set to choose another outside investigator in the coming days.