FRESNO, California (KSEE) — After a news report detailed how Fresno’s independent police auditor decided to withhold a report regarding use of force accusations against a teen, residents called into Thursday’s city council meeting wanting him to resign.
Since the situation wasn’t an agenda item for the meeting, city council couldn’t discuss the matter much. However, after those calls from concerned residents, they plan to make sure they understand the auditor’s role to ensure he acted properly.
During a meeting with Fresno Commission for Police Reform, the city’s independent police auditor, John Gliatta, said despite finishing up a report on a Jan. 2019 incident — he decided to hold off on releasing it. Police body cam footage of the incident showed officer Christopher Martinez repeatedly hit 17-year-old London Wallace.
Regarding his decision, Gliatta said he feared community backlash, as he finished his report about a week prior to the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
“I internally decided not to put it out. The community had some very fragile emotions going on and I didn’t think it would help matters by putting this out because I contradict what the [Fresno Police Department] came up with.”
The admission is not going over well. When the public got the chance to speak to city council Thursday, nearly all callers said Gliatta should resign immediately.
One of them being a member of the Fresno Commission for Police Reform.
“His trust was hanging by a thread and now the thread has been broken,” said CPR member Gloria Hernandez. “The independent reviewer must release the audit on London Wallace and Gerald Johnson immediately. He should then resign in shame.”
The calls sparked an impromptu discussion between city council and city manager Wilma Quan. Quan defended Gliatta’s decision, saying it was driven by integrity and concern for the community. She offered up a workshop during a future city council meeting, so Gliatta could explain his role’s policies and procedures.
Several members, particularly Esmeralda Soria, said that was the best course of action.
“[This is] so people know exactly what are the expectations [of Gliatta’s role],” Soria said. “That we do review what are the policies and protocols, because if something wasn’t followed, then we should rectify.”
That workshop is currently set for Oct. 15. We did get ahold of Gliatta for this story, but he said he had no further comment on the situation.