The CPRC got involved in this case, and hired an expert to give his opinion about the incident. As reports of what he said come in, I will post them here. We'll start with this one:
BY BRIAN ROKOS STAFF WRITER January 08, 2013; 12:20 PM
A traffic accident reconstruction expert hired by Riverside’s Community Police Review Commission will give his opinion Wednesday, Jan. 9, of the Police Department’s investigation into the fatal collision between a patrol car and a pedestrian.
Isabel Pablo was hit May 13 while crossing Madison Street at Emerald Street by a patrol car driven by Officer Michael Boulerice. The investigation concluded that Pablo, 57, was jaywalking and intoxicated. It also said that while Boulerice was driving 5 mph over the speed limit and was dividing his attention between his police computer and the road, he could not have stopped in time.
Steven Bellino, of California Traffic Specialists, reviewed the police report for thoroughness and accuracy of its calculations. Bellino will speak at the 5:30 p.m. CPRC meeting in City Council chambers, 3900 Main St., Riverside.
The CPRC can issue opinions and suggest policy changes, but the Police Department is not required to take any action.
The Riverside County district attorney’s office has said it will not prosecute Boulerice. Six of Pablo’s children have sued the city, seeking more than $25,000. They had previously submitted claims seeking $1 million each.
Here they are--two articles on the "expert testimony" given at the CPRC hearing. Big surprise--the expert paid for by the Commission--that is, by the city--agrees with the police. Here's the first:
RIVERSIDE: Expert agrees with police conclusion on fatal crash
BY BRIAN ROKOS STAFF WRITER January 09, 2013; 09:24 PM
A traffic-collision expert hired by the Community Police Review Commission to examine the Riverside Police Department’s investigation of the fatal collision between a patrol car and a pedestrian agreed Wednesday, Jan. 9, with the department’s conclusion that Officer Michael Boulerice could not have avoided Isabel Pablo.
“Pedestrian Isabel Pablo was the sole cause of the collision,” said Steve Bellino, a former Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department deputy who operates a collision investigation company in Huntington Beach.
Boulerice, 28, was en route to a low-priority call on May 13, 2012, when he struck Pablo, 57, who was crossing Madison Street at Emerald Street in the Casa Blanca neighborhood about 8 a.m. on Mother’s Day. Boulerice was driving 40 mph, 5 mph over the posted speed limit. Pablo was crossing at a corner where there was not a crosswalk. She had a blood-alcohol content of 0.39, almost five times the limit at which a driver would be presumed intoxicated.
Video of the collision showed that Pablo did not look to her left, which would have allowed her to see the oncoming black and white.
“Isabel Pablo was walking in the roadway, not in a crosswalk, not in an unmarked crosswalk,” Bellino told commissioners. “Had she used the marked crosswalk, she would have been visible to Officer Boulerice.”
Pablo stepped into the road behind trees and bushes, and a parked pickup, all which obscured Boulerice’s vision, Bellino agreed.
Bellino did not in his presentation address an issue that has become a point of public contention in the crash – that Boulerice acknowledged he was using his patrol car’s computer, or MDC, shortly before the crash. Boulerice, in a statement to a sergeant immediately after the crash, said that he messed up, had been looking at his computer and did not see Pablo.
But in response to a question by Commissioner Ken Rotker, Bellino said the evidence showed that Boulerice was not distracted.
Bellino said Boulerice’s reaction time to braking after seeing Pablo was about 1.6 seconds, whereas the average reaction time of a motorist is 2.2 seconds. Boulerice could not have reacted that quickly, Bellino said, if Boulerice had not been looking at the road at the time Pablo would have first been visible.
Bellino also said that Boulerice could have avoided striking Pablo only if he was driving 32 mph – 3 mph below the posted speed limit – or slower.
Bellino, who said he has investigated 8,000 crashes, said he was “in awe” of the thoroughness of the Police Department’s 282-page report.
“I’m very gratified that the expert recognized the quality of the work that Officer (Greg) Matthews and Detective (Rick) Prince did,” Riverside Police Chief Sergio Diaz said in a phone interview afterward. Diaz described Pablo’s death as tragic.
Matthews and Prince sat in the back of City Council chambers during the presentation.
Not everyone agreed with Bellino’s finding.
Resident Paul Chavez said after Bellino’s report that Pablo might not have seen the patrol car because the sun was in her eyes or because the car was the same color as the road.
“This doesn’t look right. Not to me and the community,” Chavez said.
Bob Garcia, president of the Casa Blanca Community Action Group, said some residents of the neighborhood accepted the Police Department’s report as accurate, and some didn’t.
“What is the community going to say when they hear the expert’s analysis is the same as the police’s?” Garcia said.
The Riverside County district attorney’s office declined to prosecute Boulerice.
Six of Pablo’s children have sued the city for in excess of $25,000. They sought $1 million each in their initial claim.
And here's the second, in which the expert recommends "limiting the in-car use of police comuters, known as MDCs:
RIVERSIDE: Crash expert recommends police limit computer use
BY BRIAN ROKOS STAFF WRITER January 10, 2013; 04:29 PM
The traffic accident reconstruction expert who said a Riverside police officer was not at fault in a fatal collision with a pedestrian said he believes that officers should use their in-car computers only while responding to emergencies.
It’s an opinion that runs contrary to the policy of the Riverside Police Department.
The computers display pending calls and messages between officers. They can be used to check license plates against the database of stolen vehicles.
Steve Bellino, president of California Traffic Specialists, told Riverside’s Community Police Review Commission on Wednesday, Jan. 9, that Michael Boulerice, contrary to the officer’s own admission, was not distracted by typing on or looking at his mobile data computer when Isabel Pablo came into his line of vision on May 13, 2012.
Later, when asked by Commissioner Jon Johnson when the computers should be used, Bellino said their use should be limited to “exigent” circumstances.
In a phone interview Thursday, Bellino defined exigent as “something that would require an emergency response, Code 3, lights and sirens.”
Riverside’s policy does not require an emergency to exist before an officer can use the computer while driving. Boulerice was responding to a report of an abandoned vehicle and at the same time messaging another officer, the Police Department’s report on the collision said.
The policy reads in part: “Field personnel shall use the MDT/MDC’s for receiving and acknowledging routine dispatch assignments, updating unit status, and querying databases when practical to do so, with due regard to officer safety. … MDT/MDC’s should be used whenever practical to reduce radio traffic.”
Police are exempt from state laws that prohibit the use of cellphones and other electronic devices while driving, as long as they do so safely. Officers’ use of computers has become a point of public debate among those following Pablo’s death.
Johnson said while questioning Bellino that some policies were written when officers had only a “steering wheel and a radio on your shoulder,” and now officers face more distractions because of technology.
Boulerice was not prosecuted in the collision. In the interview Thursday, Bellino addressed assertions by some civilians that they would have been jailed if they had struck Pablo.
“That’s 110 percent incorrect,” Bellino said. “The facts are the facts and the speeds are the speeds. If any citizen took out this pedestrian, the end results should be exactly the same. I know people have a hard time believing that.”