OAKLAND (BCN) — The attorney for a veteran Oakland homicide detective who has been placed on leave for allegedly having his girlfriend help him write police reports said on Tuesday that he expects the detective to be cleared of any wrongdoing.
Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf and City Administrator Sabrina Landreth announced last Thursday that at their request, the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office will investigate alleged criminal misconduct by an Oakland police officer that is separate and unrelated to an ongoing sexual misconduct probe, which was first broken by KRON4. They didn’t name the officer being investigated.
But attorney Michael Rains said that he doesn’t mind identifying Sgt. Mike Gantt as the subject of the investigation because Gantt’s name has already been disclosed by multiple news organizations who have cited anonymous sources.
Rains said Gantt told him Tuesday that “there’s a lot of misinformation” about what he did in his investigation of the highly publicized shooting death of 66-year-old anti-crime activist Judy Salamon in Oakland’s Maxwell Park neighborhood in broad daylight on July 24, 2013.
Rains said Gantt had his girlfriend help him transcribe three recorded witness statements in the case because he was under pressure to complete his report on the case quickly but he didn’t share any police reports or documents with her.
“In an ideal world, the Oakland Police Department would have had clerical support to help him transcribe the statements,” Rains said.
The department didn’t have adequate resources so he turned to his girlfriend because she was “very capable” and she didn’t retain any copies of the interviews she transcribed, Rains said.
Rains said, “He was not out there sharing reports and this was a very limited situation,” adding that Gantt was the one who wrote the report that was submitted to prosecutors.
Rains said the allegation that Gantt engaged in any criminal misconduct is “absolutely absurd” and he believes Gantt will be cleared and allowed to return to work.
The two reputed gang members accused of murdering Salamon, 25-year-old Stephon Lee and 23-year-old Mario Floyd, are scheduled to stand trial on July 25. Gantt was a key prosecution witness in their preliminary hearing last year.
Floyd’s lawyer, Annie Beles, said that she hasn’t yet received any information from the District Attorney’s Office or Oakland police about the investigation of Gantt.
Beles said the only information she’s received about the probe has come from the news media and what she’s heard has left her with more questions than answers.
Beles said she will seek more information about the investigation at a previously-scheduled hearing for Floyd in Alameda County Superior Court on Wednesday morning in which she is seeking to have prosecutors turn over more evidence in the case, which is scheduled to go to trial on July 25.
Lee’s lawyer, Darryl Stallworth, declined to comment on the investigation into Gantt, saying he hasn’t received any official information about the probe.
Rains said Gantt has actually been on paid administrative leave for two months because Oakland police had already put him on leave for an argument he had with his wife at their home in unincorporated Alameda County.
Rains said Gantt himself called Alameda County sheriff’s deputies to report the incident but said Gantt “didn’t do anything wrong” and didn’t use any force or violence.
The attorney said sheriff’s deputies came to Gantt’s house but no charges were filed against Gantt.
Rains said an Oakland police commander who investigated the incident told Gantt that he didn’t do anything wrong and wouldn’t face any discipline, but was overruled two days later by former police Chief Sean Whent, who placed Gantt on leave.
Rains said Gantt simply “had an argument” with his wife and “should be exonerated” of any wrongdoing.
Rains also said that Gantt, who has been with the Oakland Police Department for more than 20 years, was terminated for several months about 10 years ago for allegedly interfering in the investigation of a friend who was accused of rape.
Rains said Gantt “did nothing dishonest or unethical” and he believes the decision by police commanders to fire Gantt was “an overreaction.”
Rains said Gantt took the matter to arbitration, was cleared of any wrongdoing and was allowed to return to work.