The San Diego Police Department must make available to a defense attorney the names of all witnesses to complaints of excessive force and racial bias lodged against two officers allegedly shot by Sagon Penn. Superior Court Judge Raul Rosado ruled Monday that the names, addresses and phone numbers of all witnesses to “three or four incidents” in the files of Officers Donovan Jacobs and Thomas E. Riggs are relevant to Penn’s defense, and gave the department three days to comply with his order.
Penn is accused of killing Riggs with two shots from the officer’s gun after a scuffle.
Rosado studied the officers’ personnel files in chambers for an hour at the request of attorney Robert Slatten. Slatten, who is defending Penn, said that Jacobs and Riggs may have used excessive force and hurled racial epithets at Penn when they attempted to arrest him on March 31.
During the arrest attempt, a scuffle ensued in which Penn managed to pull Jacobs’ service revolver from its holster. He allegedly shot Jacobs once in the neck and fatally wounded Riggs. Sara Pina-Ruiz, who was riding in Riggs’ car, was also shot twice. Jacobs and Pina-Ruiz have recovered from their wounds.
By law, Rosado could only review entries in the officers’ personnel files for the past five years. He said the files “contained complaints from citizens for various things, some of which are relevant and some of which are irrelevant” to the case. Rosado limited his order to the names, addresses and phone numbers of the witnesses and did not allow Slatten to review the files himself.