Community group in Chico pushing for more alternatives to deadly force

Dozens of community members, including friends of Stephen Vest, came together for a protest in front of Chico City Hall that was led by the group Concerned Citizens for Justice.

Posted: Feb 9, 2021 6:22 PM
Updated: Feb 10, 2021 10:20 AM

CHICO, Calif. - Dozens of community members came together for a protest in front of Chico City Hall that was led by the group Concerned Citizens for Justice (CCFJ)

Last month, Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey ruled the October 14th shooting of Stephen Vest, justified.

Ramsey says Vest tried to stab a security guard, attacked occupied cars and chased employees through Petco with a knife.

Members of the group CCFJ say that they don't think the shooting should have been justified, claiming that Vest was suffering a mental health crisis.

The group said it wants the police to look at this as an opportunity to learn what could have been done differently and implement changes for the future.

They added, they want the police to change the way officers respond to these calls.

"There are seven recommendations that we are offering to the Chief of Police and city council to take this crisis as an opportunity for officers to review the bodycam footage, review the 911 tapes, look at the District Attorney's report and use it as an opportunity for growth and to do things differently. There was time to de-escalate," said Jill Bailey, who is a member of Concerned Citizens for Justice.

"De-escalation you absolutely need time and distance for that type of verbal communication to occur and it's very clear to me that that didn’t happen. They used less-lethal option with the taser, ultimately that was ineffective, our officers were put in a situation where they didn't have any other means," said Chico Police Chief, Matt Madden.

Some of the recommendations the group has presented to the police department include mandating training in de-escalation, asking police to maintain full transparency and accountability, and establishing a mental health intervention team.

Chief Madden says most of the recommendations are already being done or that the police department is in the process of addressing them.

He adds that they currently work with Butte County Behavioral Health and their mobile crisis unit that is used on a regular basis.

Although the police department is already working with Butte County Behavioral Health, Chief Madden says they would like to see those services expand.

Chief Madden says the department is always looking at their training, different technology and equipment that can be used, and they will continue to assess where they are at with their training and what technology is out there that can help do their job better.

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